herald

Sunday 16 December 2018

Leader of pack Feek is key to Blues

Leinster 'scrum doctor' hails skill, dedication of Ross and Healy as work brings big rewards

The Leinster scrum doctor Greg Feek has moved into a house in Dublin as a sign of his commitment to the province and Declan Kidney's Ireland.

The 10-times capped All Black prop has been the unseen element in Leinster's success story. Until now.

He has made the move north of New Zealand in order to maintain Leinster's scrum and transform that of Ireland's in the Six Nations.

"It is a bit like the missus. You are always negotiating your time with the players. They know that if they want to be not just good, but really good, they need to do extra work. It requires sacrifice at times," said Feek.

The chemistry with Leinster's front row club has been just right. He has met a like-minded individual in tight-head Mike Ross and an exciting presence in loose-head Cian Healy.

"It has been great. The personalities on the team -- they're all humble guys in a team that's doing well. It hasn't gone to their heads. They're keen to keep working on what they need to improve on," he said.

There have been calls from far and wide for the promotion of Mike Ross to Ireland's first choice at tight-head given the capitulation of Munster's scrum this season. Tony Buckley and John Hayes have been found wanting when Ross is still waiting and wanting to be found.

"Mike's got a lot of experience. I call him a bit of a scrum nerd as well. He loves it. He also possesses some physical attributes that you need to have if you want to hold up against these good teams," said Feek.

"Mike's done well. He still has games when if he wants to be an international prop, he has to be consistent, not only in the scrums, but in all the other stuff you have to do around the field. Consistency is really important at the top level."

Then, there is Healy, the raging bull, with all the explosiveness and athletic talent of a professional without the bank of experience required for the most physically and technically demanding area of the game.

"Cian has a lot to work with. He possesses some physical attributes that are pretty exciting. He is only young. He is still learning. You can't hurry these things. For them to remember, you've got to take your time," Feek added.

"You have players who are willing to soak up (information) and improve and are willing to go away and do what they have to, the little extras, to get their consistency right. The attitude of the boys has been great."

When Leinster lost Bernard Jackman and John Fogarty to retirement, CJ van der Linde in the summer and Stan Wright in pre-season, they looked in dire need of front-row firepower.

Instead, Ross has been given time to find his feet, Heinke van der Merwe has been a sound acquisition and hooker Richardt Strauss and Healy have blossomed to such an extent that Leinster will want to erase their scrum disaster against Toulouse in the Heineken Cup last year

"At the end of the day, you want to play rugby and win and do your job well. That is motivation in itself," he said.

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