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Dublin: 6°C Friday 25 September 2020

'It's down to who's willing to work harder': McGrath scrummaging with a plan

The Leinster loosehead will pack down against the heaviest man to appear at last year’s World Cup. You think he’s fazed?

IRELAND LOOSEHEAD PROP Jack McGrath is ready for all comers at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The 26-year-old underlined his claim among Ireland’s pound-for-pound fittest players during the tense draw with Wales. Not only helping to solidify the second half scrum while playing the full 80 minutes, but putting in 18 teak tough tackles in the process.

Jack McGrath Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After getting his first real ‘blow-out’ of the week in today’s training session, McGrath reported for media duty pain-free and ready to do it all over again.

The task is a tough one. An athlete of a weaker disposition might balk at the challenge of going head-to-head with the 140+ kg Uini Atonio. For McGrath though, the New Zealand-born French international means just a minor tweak to his usual approach.

“He’s a bit different to (Rabah) Slimani in body shape, so there’s a little bit of a different plan there. But for us as a pack, it’s not too much difference and we’re obviously just trying to improve a few things from the weekend.”

France Rugby Six Nations Source: Jacques Brinon

New France coach Guy Noves has given a vote of confidence to his back-up props for this Test, shelving the excellent Slimani and Eddy Ben Arous so that McGrath and Nathan White face men with fewer match minutes as well as an extra day’s rest under their sizable belts.

It matters little to McGrath, but the nature of the modern set-piece makes being an 80-minute man something of a throwback. The Dubliner insists that facing down two tightheads per game isn’t anything to be fazed by.

Jack McGrath and Eoin Reddan Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“With French teams they usually change their whole front row after about 50 minutes. Whatever work you do, you’ll be seeing either prop on the field at some stage, so you have to do your homework on all of them.

“That’s where your S&C (strength and conditioning) comes in, and what you’ve been doing off the pitch.

It doesn’t change too much. Maybe one or two scrums when they come on and they’re a little fresh. It takes its toll then, but other than that… it’s down to who’s willing to work harder.

“First scrum of the game you’re always trying to lay down a marker, because going over there, they’re a formidable side, and we’re looking to do that on Saturday.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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