Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Leinster will need Healy to deliver knockout blow

The Ospreys front-row, and their grizzled tight-head Adam Jones in particular, will be a tough nut to crack

It's pop idol meets prop idol.

On one side, Cian Healy, summertime DJ and wintertime loose-head extraordinaire. On the other, Adam Jones. A man for all seasons and perennially top of the props.

If that's not enough to whet your appetite, on the other side of the scrum Paul James returns to the venue where on his last visit he accounted for three opponents with all the summary brutality of a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Mike Ross, absent then but present now, will be gunning to avenge his team-mates' embarrassment last time out when the Ospreys completed a rare league double over the European champions.

Leinster effectively trumped Ulster at their supposed strength in last week's European final, snaffling 14 points from turnover ball at scrum time. They will seek to do something similar on Sunday in the Rabodirect League final (4pm).

The Ospreys possess one of the most fearsome eights in Europe though — the one that did for Munster's European pedigree last season, and ended Tony Buckley's Irish career.

In the RDS last month, Ross' absence was pivotal and Healy was powerless as Connacht new and old, Nathan White and Jamie Hagan, crumpled, while the luckless Jack McGrath succumbed to the ethical, but mis-placed, sideline call to refuse uncontested scrums.

From a position where Leinster were cruising to victory, Ospreys seized upon the weakness and plundered an unlikely away win.

“We were unfortunate with two tight-heads coming off and poor Jack thrown into the deep end,” recalled Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss. “Our scrum, for some reason, didn't function well at all from the start.”

Healy admits to struggling against the vast experience of Lions star Jones.

“He's good,” concedes Healy.

“He hits out at the loose-head and doesn't let you get underneath him. It's just a case of trying to wear him down, catch him off his guard and get underneath him.”

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Munster back-rows James Coughlan and Paddy Butler have been called into the Ireland squad ahead of Tuesday's summer tour warm-up match against the Barbarians in Gloucester.

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