Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

I’ll put record straight against Castrogiovanni: Healy

Cian Healy bristles at criticism of Ireland's scrum and is eager to establish his own reputation by routing Martin Castrogiovanni at Croke Park on Saturday.

Scrummaging has often been viewed as Ireland's Achilles heel and the RBS 6 Nations champions will be targeted by Italy's feared front row.

The Azzurri excel in this department — it is probably the only area where they’re expected to subdue Declan Kidney's side — with their outstanding prop Castrogiovanni the key threat.

Castrogiovanni, among the top tightheads in the game and a 62-cap veteran, will relish his battle with a rookie who made both of his Test appearances last autumn.

The rivals have met before in last season's Heineken Cup final and while Healy was pleased with his performance, he is aiming to prove Ireland's scrum has been unfairly written off.

“I don't think the criticism of our scrum is fair,” said the Leinster loosehead. “I don't understand why our scrum comes in for stick when it helped us win a Grand Slam and 6 Nations.

“There must be something going right. But it's also something we're looking to turn into a strength of the team.

“I did okay against Castro last season, it wasn't my worse day out. But it was a bit tougher when Julian White came on.

“Castro is a good scrummager, he's clever, but it will be a different pack behind him on Saturday.

“But that Heineken Cup final was a while ago now.

“I'm sure he's progressed as a player since then, as I hope I have.

“I want to get the better of him because he is so renowned for what he does. I'd like to turn him over.”

Ireland's scrum was given a torrid time in November's 15-10 victory over world champions South Africa, but rallied in the closing stages.

It was another step in Healy's rapid climb up the ranks and the Clontarf-born prop, who is a dynamic force in the loose, is competing with Marcus Horan for the number one jersey.

Horan continues his comeback with Ireland Wolfhounds against Scotland A today after undergoing minor heart surger.

Healy knows he faces a major battle to keep his place in the side when the 32-year-old Horan returns.

“There's a lot of quality competition at prop. Declan told me I've been picked for what I do with Leinster, so don't try and change that,” he said. “Marcus has been getting game time while Tom Court has been doing well for Ulster.”

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