Sunday 17 December 2017

Best: Jack McGrath deserves his Samoan shot

Ireland's Jack McGrath during the captain's run ahead of their Guinness Series International match against Samoa tomorrow
Ireland's Jack McGrath during the captain's run ahead of their Guinness Series International match against Samoa tomorrow

Nick Purewall

Debutant prop Jack McGrath has won his Ireland chance on merit, according to Rory Best.

Hooker Best has backed the Leinster 24-year-old to produce a powerful scrummaging display against Samoa in Saturday's opening autumn international.

McGrath will go up against Leicester's robust front-rower Logovi'i Mulipola at the Aviva Stadium.

But Ulster front-rower Best believes Ireland's new cap can give as good he will get at the set-piece.

"It's a great day for Jack," explained 31-year-old Best.

"Having watched his games this season, he deserves his chance.

"He's a great guy, he's trained really well and I hope it goes really well for him, because he deserves it and he deserves a good performance.

"I think if you look at the way he's been playing this season, he gets around the pitch.

"But from scrummaging with him, he's a solid lump, he's like a wee block, and he'll stick in there and scrummage well for you.

"He's got a good engine, but the big thing for me is that he's a very, very honest player - the sort of guy you knock him down, he'll get up and keep working hard for you, right through the 80 minutes.

"And I think that's all you can ask, especially your front-row forwards, if they're getting up and working hard for the team I think that's a massive aspect to have."

New forwards coach John Plumtree admitted earlier this week that Ireland must sharpen up at the lineout for this autumn series.

Experienced hand Best is confident Ireland can quickly address any previous lineout issues though.

Leinster's mammoth 6ft 11in lock Devin Toner will lead the lineout in Dublin.

Best said the new calling system is fairly straightforward - only serving to intensify pressure to ensure it actually works.

He continued: "It's about getting excited for these games, and making sure we're accurate in everything we do.

"It's getting the detail right for the lineout, making sure we're not overcomplicating things.

"When things are not too complicated, then the pressure is on to make sure you get it right.

"The lineout has gone well over the last two weeks, but it's important now to transfer that to the match.

"Dev (Devin Toner) will be calling it, there are a few new combinations, but that's no excuse, we've had two weeks to be ready."

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