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Monday 11 December 2017

Jack McGrath: Italians want to shove the scrum in your face but we'll be ready

Jack McGrath during squad training. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare
Jack McGrath during squad training. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare

Jack McGrath believes Ireland can turn Italy's confrontational scrummaging against them in tomorrow's Six Nations opener in Rome.

Prop McGrath will go toe-to-toe with Italy's combustible tighthead Martin Castrogiovanni, and admitted Ireland will aim to exploit the Azzurri's sometimes volatile set-piece passion.

Toulon prop Castrogiovanni was fined by European chiefs after a foul-mouthed tirade launched at his former Leicester boss Richard Cockerill in December.

Read More: Joe Schmidt stands by his choices

McGrath believes Ireland will meet fire with fire at the coal face at the Stadio Olimpico, backing tighthead Mike Ross to handle the pressure despite recently losing his starting place at Leinster.

"They really want to shove their scrum in your face," said McGrath of Italy's no-nonsense approach.

"Their lineout maul too, that's their bread and butter and where they pride themselves the most.

Read More: Ireland go with big guns for an Italian shootout

"If we can meet them in that area and maybe go one better that's what we ideally want to do.

"But it's not just doing it once; it's doing it every time.

"If you give them a sniff there's massive confidence there.

"And especially at home the crowd is just going to get behind them and really rally them up.

"So it's up to us as a pack to really get stuck into them early, and turn it around on them.

"They are unbelievably passionate people so it will be really tough.

"But we'll take them on up front first and foremost.

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