Ireland’s scrum coach John Fogarty has hailed Andrew Porter as a thinking man’s prop and touted the 24-year-old to hit a new level during the Autumn Nations Cup.
Dublin’s Aviva Stadium hosts the first match of the new eight-team competition, with Wales on hand to help raise the curtain with a Friday night kick-off.
While the 2021 Six Nations remains the next big prize on the horizon, there is plenty to play for teams and individuals as the sport continues the process of regaining its footing following the coronavirus shutdown.
And Fogarty has set Porter, his former Leinster charge, the challenge of using his head to help bring a fresh dimension to Ireland’s front row game.
“He is a very, very smart player, a smart guy. Not all props are thick and he’s one of the smart ones, I can assure you!” said Fogarty, a former hooker in his own playing days.
“In the past – very much in the past – Andrew didn’t have enough patience at times. The journey he’s been on over the last number of years to learn his craft so he can deliver at scrum time has been great to watch.
“He has used his smarts to scout, to look forward, to see where opportunities and threats are. He’s developed his training week really, really well and grown in confidence. He’s at a stage now where he can step up and we’re looking for that from him.
“He’s well established in the team, he’s learned his craft, developed patience and he himself has set himself a huge standard to perform to. We’re excited to see him play this weekend.”
Ireland go into the match heavily fancied, in part due to their own prowess and form and in part due to the five-match losing streak of Wayne Pivac’s visitors.
Wales have lost their last three games against Ireland too, with their last Dublin win coming five years ago.
Ending that sorry streak could provide inspiration in itself but Fogarty has promised any such response will be met in kind.
He said: “They’ll be motivated but we’ll certainly match any motivation. We’re excited to get out there and see what we can do.
“It’s going to be tough and I imagine there’ll be lots of emotion coming from Wales, for lots of different reasons. For us there’ll be lots on energy to put in a performance out there and some of the moments we didn’t take against France, we want to take this weekend.”
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