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Monday 11 December 2017

Ross eager to get stuck into Welsh

Tighthead relishing scrum battle at Aviva

While Wales coach Warren Gatland may have struggled for depth in some areas, he was flush with talent at loosehead prop despite the withdrawal of Gethin Jenkins.

It all came down to what Ireland tighthead Mike Ross describes as "the destructive scrummaging" of Paul James against a "good technician" in Rhys Gill.

Saracens' Gill got the nod to complete a challenging front-row with Huw Bennett and Adam Jones, and it is one the Irish front three will relish and respect in equal measure.

Certainly, Wales appeared to have the upper hand in this most personal combat zone.

Ross has had his head trained on the computer screen since in order to dissect and destroy them tomorrow.

"They bring a real aggression to their scrummage," said Ross. "They can be quite difficult to work against at times. During the quarter-final, they got penalties out of us on one or two occasions.

"We are working hard on what we want to do. It will be an interesting battle between the two scrums (come tomorrow afternoon).

There is a solid basis for believing this is exactly why Donncha O'Callaghan was preferred to Donnacha Ryan as a well-worn tighthead scrummaging lock behind Ross.

"It can make a huge difference. Donncha is one of the best tighthead scrummaging locks I have worked with. He is very enthusiastic about that part of the game," added Ross.



Communicator

"He is a good communicator. He is always talking to you. He is also a hard worker and you can really feel him pushing like hell behind you. You definitely don't want a guy who is passive in there."

Ross would admit that he doesn't do some things as quickly as Leinster would want in the open field. But, he never drops the ball when he gets on it and he nearly always makes the gainline.

"I am no Cian Healy," he admitted. "I certainly endeavour to make a four-mile-an-hour carry. As long as I am going forward I don't really care. It is something I work hard on. There is nothing worse than getting stripped of the ball in contact. It becomes turnover ball. This is the hardest to defend because it is an opportunity that comes about unexpectedly."

A turnover in open play is one thing; a turnover at scrum time quite another. Expect fireworks tomorrow.

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