Heineken Cup: Leinster progress down to Feek result
You think of combinations in Irish rugby and immediately land on O’Callaghan-O’Connell, Reddan-Sexton and D’Arcy-O’Driscoll.
However, a relationship that tends to get overlooked but was, arguably, the most significant for Ireland in the Six Nations and will be at the World Cup, is the one forged between Greg Feek and Mike Ross.
Former All Black, Feek was brought in as Leinster coach at the start of the season and then swiftly co-opted into the Ireland set-up for the November internationals.
And, even though Ross was, mistakenly, not used in those four games, it was clear his bond with Feek was cementing.
The two self-professed scrummaging nerds could be seen in deep discourse around the squad hotel in Killiney, frequently on their feet to emphasise some shoulder angle or stance.
That partnership has since flourished to the point where Ross is now the fulcrum of Ireland’s vastly improved scrummaging effort and it has been an unexpected bonus for Feek.
“Yeah, it was ‘Mike who?’ back in August when he was mentioned to me,” said the New Zealander this week, “he’s come on well. Rossy. I certainly know more about him now.”
Feek’s work with his Leinster and Ireland colleague Cian Healy is also reaping rich rewards and with Heinke van der Merwe and Stan Wright on their books, the scrum guru has the propping raw materials to put it up to most scrums in Europe — and they will need every ounce of power they can muster against Leicester on Saturday.
The Tigers are an old-school outfit who have always prided themselves on their scrum and continue to do so under the guidance of Richard Cockerill.
Even without suspended Puma Marcos Ayerza, Cockerill’s men will run out at Lansdowne Road hungry to set the tone at the point of contact and provide a platform for Ben Youngs and Toby Flood.