PLAYER TURNOVER OBVIOUSLY plays a part, and a medal never hurts, but Marty Moore is a prime example of how a player can quickly grow to belong at international level.
The42 squeezed in for a space alongside a swollen media pack wishing to speak to the tighthead yesterday, 366 days on from the Castleknock man’s international and Six Nations debut.
Six months before that, he hadn’t even played for Leinster. Yet here he was with six caps to his name, confidently and calmly fielding question after question with cameras and mic after mic thrust above his barrel chest.
“Last year, coming into the national squad, it was all new. Everything was a first for our first game, debut and this year I am a little bit more relaxed.
“I suppose the fact that I’ve been out for so long injured looking in on it has given me a load of time to prepare. Mentally, and speaking to Enda McNulty in the setup and knowing our plays, I’m more comfortable coming back into the environment at this stage.”
He would be confident enough to start against France this weekend and make his seventh time in the jersey his first full cap. However, the considerable hurdle of Mike Ross is still proving to be an irresistible force when it comes down to Joe Schmidt’s selection meeting.
“That’s pro sport,” Moore says with a shrug of his wide shoulders.
“You have to do whatever you can and the decision comes down to the coaches. At the end of the day, I’m absolutely delighted to here. If, four months ago, you had asked me if I would be here, I would have been guessing. It’s great to be back in time and to have been able to get those games with Leinster. That gave me the opportunity to get back into this squad.
It’s not that Moore is content to play a support role for Ross, he knows his time will come. Props everywhere have learned to shelve the notion that they must conserve energy to last 80 minutes. The workload they are subjected to in today’s game means replacements are usually an absolute necessity come the third quarter of a Test.
“When you look across, there’s very few international tightheads that can play 70-80 minutes, but they would be expected to last 60-65. They might turn into passengers after that — it’s not an accepted practice. But generally, to be really effective, there’s not many players that can go by the 60-70-minute mark.”
64 minutes had elapsed when Moore was called on against France last season. He will hope that the improvements Simon Easterby and Joe Schmidt demand of the pack this week will for a slightly less heart-stopping experience than Paris.
“They’re a powerful team but they’re also so dangerous. We know we have to be so disciplined as a collective. We’re going to have to work very hard — they have a lot of dangerous players that can open up holes, as they did against the Scots. They’re on the back-foot then, all of a sudden, Bastareaud or Fofana cuts back and Huget is off down the wing.
“They are a team that, even when they are on the back foot, you have to keep pressing forward. You can’t ease off at any stage.”