Ross backs Porter to make tighthead grade
Mike Ross believes former Ireland U-20 star Andrew Porter can make the grade in his old jersey having made the switch across the front-row this season.
The retiring tighthead prop has played some part in the youngster's development as he helps out with scrum coaching at UCD, where Porter has been wearing the No 3 jersey in recent times, having initially come through as a loosehead prop.
Leinster and Ireland's resources on the left side of the scrum are strong, with Cian Healy, Jack McGrath and Peter Dooley all ahead of Porter in the pecking order. But with Ross' imminent retirement, the cupboard is more bare on the tighthead side.
So, the province have encouraged Porter to make the move and he is now going through the rite of initiation.
"He's looking pretty good," Ross reflected. "The kid is really strong, Cian Healy is looking at him a bit enviously.
"He's looking good, it's quite tough to switch over to that side but he's improving every week. You can see it, he's figuring it out.
"A couple of training sessions, he found it tough. A very important moment in his life happened - he got his wings. That's a huge developmental milestone in a young tighthead's life.
"That's when you get lifted off the ground. It hasn't happened to him since. I've got them, Tadhg (Furlong) got them, (Michael) Benty has got them... every tighthead has got them at some point. It's a very important developmental milestone.
"It was Peter Dooley, he was quite proud of himself."
Leo Cullen revealed that the switch was John Fogarty's brainchild and is encouraged by Porter's development.
"It was more Fogs who felt he had the potential to make the transition, in terms of age profile and the group of players that we have; physically he's in a good place and technically there's a bit of work to do," said the Leinster coach.
"We'll see how it goes, a number of players have worked on both sides. Jeremy Loughman has played loosehead and tighthead, Michael Bent... those players are invaluable to the squad and we'll see how Andrew goes.
"There's plenty of encouraging signs with how he's gone in training and a couple of games he's played for UCD as well."