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Tuesday 24 April 2018

O'Connor's looking for even Moore

Blues boss tips prop to have bright future

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

THE new scrum laws shouldn't trouble Martin Moore too much as he is studying to be a solicitor when his time in the game comes to an end.

That looks like being some way off. The 22-year-old was handed his Leinster Player of the Month for October award this week.

The accolade slipped slightly under the radar as the fallout from Ireland-New Zealand rolled out across newspapers and airwaves for the first half of his working week.

There is something unarguably French – think loose head Thomas Domingo – about the unusual shape and size of the barrel-chested Moore, 5'11' tall and 19 1/2 stones' weight worth of cornerstone prop.

The squat build makes him a difficult proposition to move. His short back and thick-set legs mean he is an anchorman suited to the new rules. It is better advised to try to get in under his skin than his chest.

The scarcity of tight head props in Ireland immediately moves Moore into the race for the Six Nations with Ulster's Declan Fitzpatrick and Munster's Stephen Archer ahead of him in the national queue.

Does Leinster coach Matt O'Connor (inset) think he is ready for international rugby?

"Marty has got some development in him. It is still early doors for him," he said.

"But he has been very good for us this year. He was very good for 70-plus minutes in Treviso. He is doing a great job for us."

Will Moore be ready by the time the 2014 Six Nations rolls around? "I hope he never gets picked – but that's unlikely," said O'Connor, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Patience

Leinster seems to be blessed with a plethora of provincially produced prop options on the loose head side in Cian Healy and Jack McGrath and the tight head corner with Mike Ross, Moore and the injury-stalled Tadhg Furlong.

"It certainly speaks volumes for the programme and the academy and what has gone on previously," said O'Connor.

The apparent sudden rise of Moore is an example to those who struggle for patience. The waiting game can be mercilessly tortuous.

There is a strong and fair argument to be made about whether Leinster's up-and-comers should be farmed out to other provinces, most notably Connacht.

Leinster flanker Shane Jennings had to move away to Leicester Tigers for two seasons (2005-2007) to make the necessary improvements by getting game time.

He knows what it's like to sit and watch when all you want to do is get picked and play. He waited until he was 24 before he made his move.

"The blokes nowadays are different," said Jennings.

"It's weird. They're coming out physically developed. They are specimens coming out of school, whereas we didn't really have an understanding of strength and conditioning and weights when we were 18, 19, 20 years of age.

"I know that Leinster Schools have always been very strong, and Leinster Youths. The clubs are very strong. So, there are good provincial set-ups feeding a lot of good people through and there are a lot of good kids playing. That has a knock-on effect.

"With us doing well here that makes people want to be involved and we are getting guys through the sub-academies and academies.

"The thing we have to get right is that while that skill is great, they have to understand the culture and what it means to play for the province so there is a good balance there."

This is the balance between wanting it all now and having the patience to wait until you are ready to do justice to the club. That is why it usually all starts at places like Rodney Parade and Stadio Monigo.

"It's unglamorous, but those are the matches that win you Leagues," said Jennings.

"There is a joy in going over there even if people don't think it's that pretty.

"Going over to Newport or Treviso – they're hard places to go and that builds character.

"Thankfully, a lot of those lads are learning that because I remember going to those places a lot of the time and coming home with my backside kicked."

That was then. This is now. Leinster has developed to a level where the kids can learn in a winning environment.

"It's nicer to learn when you win rather than getting your head kicked in," he said.

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