Saturday 24 March 2018

Cian Healy: ‘Jack McGrath is making me fight for my place’

Ireland's Jack McGrath
Ireland's Jack McGrath

By Nick Purewal

Old hand Cian Healy admits he is being forced to hit new heights - by rookie Ireland prop Jack McGrath.

The Leinster team-mates are separated by 39 international caps, but senior man Healy sees little difference in quality.

And the 26-year-old, who has represented Ireland on 40 occasions, has conceded fellow loosehead prop McGrath's arrival in Joe Schmidt's squad has caused him to step up his level once again.

Healy said: "It's been great watching Jack because when he got included he just constantly plugged away and has been working on the finer details.

"He has constantly plugged at it, wants to learn and is always asking for stuff.

"When we are put together in the gym or we are with each other in scrummaging, we're tagging in and out.

"We are constantly learning off each other.

"It is not like I'm not learning anything off him as well.

"We are bouncing things off each other and what to do different weeks in and out.

"It's a nice little team we are getting up."

Confident the competition will keep sharpening him up, Healy said McGrath's man-of-the-match showing in the 40-9 victory over Samoa underlines his ability.

Healy said: "That competition is healthy.

"I'm hoping that is going to push me in my game as well and when there is someone that good around as well, you've got to be really on top form.

"If you slip up with how you are playing there is someone there to step in."

Accomplished front-rower Healy was forced out of the summer's victorious British Lions tour of Australia with ankle ligament damage - just hours after being cleared of allegations of biting against Western Force.

Leinster's frontline prop has no qualms about facing Australia in Dublin on Saturday after the summer's frustrations, though.

He said: "I'm not really counting the summer thing as anything.

"It is always great to get to play against one of the Southern Hemisphere teams and they pose a big threat in the pack, the tackle and it's the type of game I like.

"It is usually a fast game, they are usually pretty hard hitting and I'm looking forward to it.

"I had to park all that (from the summer) and move on."

Expecting a stern examination at the scrum this weekend, Healy warned Ireland not to throw everything at producing a miracle play.

Calling on Ireland to build pressure systematically instead, he added: "We've got to stick to our plan.

"We have been of trying to pull magic out and that is when you fall short of what you are trying to do.

"We have been fairly sharp on our detail and looking for those small things.

"We are pretty happy if we stick to that we will be alright.

"We are confident in how we are going at the scrum, pretty happy with our pack, and we'd had to work hard at that.

"Australia have a big pack, big fellas.

"They had a few good scrums against England so we are going to have to be pretty sharp not to be turned over there."

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