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Sunday 11 December 2016

Ross propping up Blues scrum

The league leaders will have to control scrummaging of WP Nel

Leinster's Mike Ross. Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Mike Ross. Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

Leaders Leinster have Mike Ross, Tadhg Furlong and Marty Moore.

Second-placed Connacht have Nathan White and much improved fellow international Finlay Bealham.

Glasgow have Tonga international Sila Puafisi and the emerging Zander Ferguson.

The Scarlets have the serous muscle of Samson Lee.

It is more than just a co-incidence that the Top-4 clubs in the PRO12 can draw on the cement blocks of quality tight-head props.

It has been a long established rugby tradition that the number three is one of the first shirts filled for any club or country with serious aspirations towards silverware.

Heck, that is why John Hayes was part of the Irish furniture for so long.

"I'll keep pushing that yeah," said Ireland's Ross, possibly no pun intended.

"Your out-half is probably your most important. I suppose a bit of self-interest here, but I'd say your tight-head probably wouldn't be too far behind him.

"If you have a bad scrum, suddenly a scrum in the 22 becomes a line-out in your 22 because you have conceded a penalty and it gives guys an opportunity to relieve the pressure.

Opportunity

"A few bad scrums and if the opposition knows they have you in the scrum they are more likely to take that opportunity."

Ulster have Wiehahn Herbst. Munster have BJ Botha and seventh-placed Edinburgh have WP (Willem Petrus) Nel.

Leinster will have to subdue the influence of the Scotland front row of Alistair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Nel to prosper on Friday night.

"We won't be looking past Edinburgh this weekend because they've the Scottish front row, pretty much," stated Ross.

"The front row of Nel, Ford and Dickinson have given teams a lot of hard times over the last few months."

It could be a long night for one club out to confirm top spot or another desperate to crack the Top-6 for Champions Cup qualification.

The former Free State Cheetah Nel made a deep impression in the Six Nations. But, he is much more than just a set-piece specialist.

"I first came up against him a couple of years ago when he was playing for Edinburgh," said Ross. "I don't know if you remember it, but he skinned Shane Jennings on the outside and ran in from about 40 metres, which I thought was absolutely disgraceful," he joked.

"It was a bit annoying, really. That's the man I wanted to be. He (Nel) didn't get a look in with South Africa for whatever reason and made the decision to come over to Scotland and it's worked out really well for him."

Now, the time has come for Leinster to work out the Edinburgh front row.

It would give them the platform to keep a grip on the PRO12.

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