Tuesday 25 October 2016

Anchorman Ross and captain Nacewa show there is no substitute for experience

Mike Ross
Mike Ross

Ireland prop Mike Ross would have to be categorised as an 'unsung hero' of Irish rugby.

It is only when the tight-head isn't there that you begin to realise his importance to the foundations of Ireland's Six Nations.

The 36 year-old was one of 17 Leinster players to be confirmed as contract renewals yesterday.

Certainly, Ireland's problems at scrum time in Stade de France were the difference between victory and defeat.

The value of Ross's old style attention to the job requirements of a tight-head prop still hold true.

"I think it's probably his ability to perform his core job," said coach Leo Cullen.

"He's a scrummaging tight-head who enjoys the scrum and knows everything about every opponent that he's going to come up against."

The mere fact Ross had to leave Ireland to find work in his specialist area for Harlequins leaves a scar that will never fully fade.

"He has a wealth of experience as well. You know, played in England for a couple of years with Harlequins, had to fight to get his first cap.

"I presume now that he's in there for the last couple of years he doesn't want to give it up lightly."

Moving on, Isa Nacewa has extended his contract by one more season too.

The New Zealander has spoken more than once of how he will stay at the province for as long as the 33 year-old is wanted.

The appointment as club captain, during the international windows, in light of the retirement of Kevin McLaughlin was proof positive that the New Zealander has retained all or most of his skills and physicality on rejoining Leinster.

Sean O'Brien's signature on a three-year central contract with the IRFU had been reported in December. It will offer little consolation at this point as the Ireland international contemplates missing out against England at Twickenham on Saturday week with a hamstring strain.

The commitment of other senior Ireland internationals Dave Kearney, Jack McGrath, Mike McCarthy and Rhys Ruddock maintains the heartbeat of the club.

While Robbie Henshaw confirmed his decision to join Leinster for three years, Garry Ringrose, the centre heir apparent to Ben Te'o, was also included.

The future is looking bright as those involved in the Six Nations, like prop Tadhg Furlong and flanker Jash van der Flier have also made a firm commitment to the province.

Second row Ross Molony, hooker James Tracy and prop Peter Dooley are among those who would have attracted the interest of other Irish provinces and foreign clubs in recent months.

Leinster contract renewals

Michael Bent, Adam Byrne, Tom Daly, Peter Dooley, Tadhg Furlong, Dave Kearney, Cathal Marsh, Mike McCarthy, Jack McGrath, Ross Molony, Isa Nacewa, Sean O'Brien, Garry Ringrose, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock, James Tracy, Josh van der Flier.

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