CONNACHT’S LATE, LATE show naturally stole the limelight in Galway last Saturday, but Irishman Marty Moore had an impressive impact on proceedings after appearing off the Wasps bench with around 22 minutes remaining in the game.
The Ireland international tighthead had been rotated out of the starting XV for Jake Cooper-Woolley, as has been the case for much of the season under Dai Young as Wasps keep their squad fresh and competitive.
Moore and the Wasps scrum hadn’t enjoyed the best of times collectively in the scrum a week before at the Ricoh Arena, while Connacht’s wide game plan meant the 25-year-old didn’t quite have the opportunity to make an impact around the pitch.
However, 10-times Moore was superb at the Sportsground on Saturday, helping Wasps to demolish the Connacht scrum twice – once for Josh Bassett’s try – while he also made two positive carries and completed all four of his tackles.
The former Leinster man now has 12 appearances for his new club under his belt, six of them starts, and has shaken off the early-season niggles that held him back upon arrival in England.
Moore has strong ambitions of continuing his international career, and more performances like the one last weekend will make it difficult for Joe Schmidt to ignore him.
Marty’s been excellent for us, to be quite honest with you,” said Wasps director of rugby Young in Galway. “He struggled at the start of the season just to put games together. He had little injuries with his calf and elbow and shoulder, so he never quite got a run together.
“But I think he’s really starting to show what we knew he had, really. His mobility around the field, he hits a hell of a lot of rucks and secures a lot of ball for you. Obviously, we’ve talked to him about being much more of a dominant ball carrier, which I think he’s bringing to his game now.
“He always makes a lot of tackles and hits a lot of rucks, so I think his ball carrying is part of his game we believe he’s improved. He has scrummaged well, and I think when he came on again today he helped take our scrum to another level again. I’m really pleased with him.”
Wasps captain Joe Launchbury, who was superb again last weekend, was similarly positive about Moore’s impact on the Premiership club.
The England lock said Moore has been “brilliant, he’s been a really strong addition to our front row” and underlined that he believes Moore has the ability to add to his Test caps.
“He’s certainly got the quality to play international rugby,” said Launchbury. “I don’t know what the rules are in terms of playing abroad for Ireland, I don’t know if it’s the same as England, but he’s certainly got the quality to play international rugby.”
While Moore had to settle for a place on the bench last weekend, Irish centre Brendan Macken enjoyed a relatively rare start for Wasps in the 13 shirt.
It was the 25-year-old’s second start of the season in frontline competitions – he has also featured in the Anglo-Welsh Cup – as he looked to stake his claim in an extremely competitive area of the pitch for Wasps.
We all know what a decent player Brendan is, but unfortunately when you’ve got some of the players that we’ve got, he doesn’t perhaps get the rugby that he would like,” said Young.
“But as you can see, he never lets you down, does the basics really well and he’s a real quality player. We really enjoy having him at Wasps. I’m sure he’d like to play a bit more, but when you’ve got the likes of Elliot Daly, Kurtley Beale, Kyle Eastmond and the likes, game time is very difficult for him.”
Former Leinster midfielder Macken signed a new two-year deal with Wasps in January of this year, extending his contract until the summer of 2018, and he will be desperate for further opportunities in the coming months.
Macken made four starts in nine appearances last season – his first year with Wasps – and will hope to increase that tally in the current campaign.
However, Young recognises that keeping Macken happy will be a challenge for the Premiership club, even if the centre is currently contracted for another two seasons.
“He’s a quality player and I’ve loved having him,” said Young. “We want to keep him, but I’m sure there comes a point where he’s going to be really close to starting week in, week out for other teams.
That’s what happens in squad situations sometimes. He’s done everything that is asked of him with us and he’s a real quality player. We’ll fight tooth and nail to try and keep him, but as you’ve seen tonight he’s a starter in most teams.
“When you’ve got Daly, Eastmond, Beale, it’s a tough ask for him, isn’t it?”
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