Monday 19 February 2018

I don't need to be rested for summer tour, insists Ross

Ireland's Mike Ross in action during squad training
Ireland's Mike Ross in action during squad training
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

MIKE ROSS does not believe he'll need to be rested for Ireland's summer tour of Argentina as the tighthead prepares to face his home province on Saturday.

The Cork native reckons he's an "honorary Leinsterman" at this stage after five seasons with the eastern province, but he is fully aware of what's coming down the track at Lansdowne Road.

At 34, Ross is still massively important to province and country with the 2015 World Cup looming, and the emergence of a creditable rival in Martin Moore has helped keep him fresh, he says.

There is some talk that Joe Schmidt might rest some key players for the two-Test tour at the end of the season to help them be in the best shape possible for next year's tournament, but Ross reckons he'll be okay.

"I feel pretty good because I haven't actually needed to play 80 minutes yet this season," he said when asked if he felt he might need a rest.

"Generally it's from the 60th to the 80th minute that you empty the tank completely and you start dipping into reserves. The way things have been working between myself and Marty this season, I think it's been pretty good for both of us.

"The impact has been reduced in the scrums, which is good from an injury point of view. You don't see as many collapsed scrums, and generally the collapse is where the injuries occur."

Knowing Munster as he does, Ross is expecting a response from the province, who clearly feel under-represented at national level. The tighthead is likely to be up against one of those players who feels like he should be involved in Dave Kilcoyne, while James Cronin can't be far off either.

"I think they're pretty close," Ross said of the Munster duo. "It's very fine margins get you selected at this level. I think they've been pushing each other pretty hard.

"I've been watching them over the past season. I think it was James Cronin's debut last season and it's testament to how far he has come that he's pushing Dave Kilcoyne, who only really made a breakthrough in the last couple of seasons himself.

"So he's probably getting a bit annoyed because he's just got his arse in the chair and some young fella is trying to push him out of it."

As for Munster coach Rob Penney's comments about the clash representing the meeting of the province and the 'Six Nations champions', Ross reckons the New Zealander wasn't being entirely serious. However, he accepts the idea that those Munster players on the fringe of the Ireland squad will be hoping to impress Schmidt.

"It was probably a bit tongue in cheek, Rob's comments," he said. "Look, guys who missed out will always have a bit of an edge about them because they have something to prove – whereas if you've got that jersey you don't want to give it up.

"At the same time, it's a pretty important game in the Rabo. There's only two points between us and we want to stay at the top, and this will go a long way towards ensuring that."

Irish Independent

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