Sunday 24 March 2019

Tight-head Porter could be next in line for the IRFU

Prop: Andrew Porter
Prop: Andrew Porter

No matter how the saga over Joey Carbery and Ross Byrne plays out, it is just another sign of the IRFU's long-term goal to spread the talent throughout Ireland.

The problem is that the majority of the hottest prospects in the game are housed at Leinster.

Indeed, Andrew Porter could well be the next man in the IRFU's line of vision.

The 22-year-old prop phenom played his first Leinster match at tight-head, off the bench against Ulster, just 11 months ago.

In that period, he has skipped ahead of Michael Bent at Leinster and John Ryan at Ireland.

He has been to the United States and Japan last summer and used in all five of the Six Nations matches.

"The coaches at the beginning said, 'there's going to be a bit of frustration on your part, but stick with it'.

"I obviously didn't think it would happen this quickly. One thing led to another.

"I think I played one game for Leinster last year against Ulster at tight-head and then got the call up for the summer tour.

"Things really picked up from there," he said.

"I am getting more game-time for Leinster this season and getting my first Champions Cup game against Exeter at home.

"It's really kind of almost snowballed."

For all of that, Porter has had just five starts in the position from his 18 appearances for Leinster this season.


Porter is second-choice to Tadhg Furlong at Leinster and Ireland.

This means there will be precious little time to accelerate his progress with starts in Europe or for Ireland in the next 15 months unless Furlong suffers a mishap.

There is the Leinster machine that is churning out all these potential Ireland internationals.

Then, there is the culture and the winning environment that has been built up over the last 15 years.

If you don't add to it, you don't stay a part of it.

"It's just about building good habits on and off the field I think, whether you're doing your analysis or your meal prep or whatever it is," said Porter.

Where Munster have tended to trade on the more direct style of rugby pushed by South Africans Rassie Erasmus and Johann van Graan, Leinster have usually moved to the cerebral beat of antipodean drums.

Matt Williams, Michael Cheika, Joe Schmidt and Matt O'Connor have all passed through the club. Now, Leo Cullen has leaned on the international expertise of career coach Stuart Lancaster to maintain Leinster's learning environment.

"I think it's just more interest in finer details, my technique in scrums or my tackle technique, my ball focus and my carries," said Porter, about what he is working on.

"It's just fine-tuning now, getting that extra one or two per cent here or there."

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