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‘Everyone is chomping at the bit to get a starting spot’ - Andrew Porter

The Ireland tight-head has achieved so much since switching from loose-head but still has big ambitions.

Andrew Porter pictured at last year's World Cup.
Andrew Porter pictured at last year's World Cup.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ANDREW PORTER GOT 19 minutes when he last played for Ireland. The game before was better, 35 minutes elapsing between the time he got the nod to warm up and the final whistle sounding. But the six caps before then were frustratingly similar, 22 minutes against Russia, 28 against Japan, 30 against Scotland, 24 against Wales, 35 against Wales, 26 against England.

It’s been a recurring theme in his Ireland career. At 24, he’s won 23 caps – which isn’t anything to be ashamed of, especially when you consider that John Hayes 26 when he made his international debut, while Mike Ross was 29.

Players are never content, though. Porter may have a grand slam and Champions Cup on his CV but he’s also in danger of being known as the 30-minute man, 19 of his 23 caps coming off the bench.

“You’re always looking to improve,” he said, “always taking notes, figuring things out. Everyone is chomping at the bit to get a starting spot. We all have that competitive edge.”

 

ronan-kelleher-dave-kearney-and-andrew-porter Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kearney and Andrew Porter pictured in the Aviva Stadium with Official Sponsors of Irish Rugby Dove Men+Care. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

It doesn’t help that the man ahead of him in the queue for Leinster as well as Ireland is Tadhg Furlong, someone who is rarely injured and even more rarely out of form. All Porter can do is wait and stay ahead of John Ryan, Finlay Bealham, Marty Moore and Tom O’Toole.

“It’s a competitive arena, the front row,” he says. “It’s great we have so many options.”

To stay competitive, he hasn’t been shy to ask Furlong for help, swapping notes on the intricacies of front-row life. “That’s our culture in Leinster,” he said. “We’re all about the team, not individuals. He’s a friend and a team mate.” But he’s also a rival.

To overtake him, Porter knows his game has to go to another level. “You’re always working on your skills, your passing, your footwork, your scrummaging. You are never satisfied. You always want to improve.”

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