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Monday 18 December 2017

'No Mas' means nothing as French scrum comes calling

The artist inside of scrum coach Greg Feek is all about "painting good pictures" for referee Wayne Barnes against France.

Hooker Rory Best has convinced the Irish medical team he is free from any symptoms from his concussion last week to take his place in between Mike Ross and Jack McGrath in the front row. "It's a real good opportunity to see where we are at. We have got no illusions to the contest that is going to be there," he remarked.

The French appear to have entered a new dawn without their cornerstone scrum anchor Nicolas Mas.

"Maybe they've made some changes ahead of the World Cup. They know what Mas can do and they want to see (Rabah) Slimani and (Uini) Antonio do their thing.

"Who knows? They're not going to put their second beast tight-head out there. I think, at the moment, that's their plan and Antonio brings a big impact off the bench with his size.

"They are destructive at scrum time," said Feek.

"For us, it's all about being really disciplined first and foremost and trying to paint good pictures to the referee.

"Those pictures mean that we can scrum well as well so that is kind of what we have to be like."

The Irish set-piece was the foundation of their November series and it was rock solid aagin in Rome last week.

The reality is the Irish pack is bound to tire against the fierce French.

Where the visitors hold a distinctive advantage in sheer bulk, the Irish will look to an explosive bench to give them the edge in the final quarter.

"As you know sometimes games open up a little bit more," Feek pointed out.

There is real impact in the formidable five of loose-head Cian Healy, back from injury, hooker Seán Cronin, tight-head Martin Moore, lock Iain Henderson and the versatile Jordi Murphy.

"Test matches tend to be a little more tactical but if it does happen and players like Cian and Sean Cronin and Iain Henderson come on and are able to make a break they can win you the game.

"First of all, they know the hard yards have to be done and if that does happen that is great.

"There is definitely some athletes there but the guys up front deserve to be in the starting position."

It will take all of Ireland's forwards to overcome a real examination of their scrum by the French.

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