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Ross: Brains and brawn needed now

Ireland tighthead Mike Ross insists the increasingly cerebral approach to scrummaging has destroyed the stereotype of the brainless prop.

Ross feels the amount of time spent analysing opponents and their technique ensures intellect is every bit as important as brawn in the modern international front row forward. The 31-year-old, who will start against Wales in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown in Cardiff, revels in plotting the downfall of his rivals.

"A lack of experience can be an advantage to a certain extent, but guys are clever," the Leinster forward said. "The stereotype of the very thick prop doesn't hold true at Test level because if you're stupid, you simply won't survive."

He added: "You can't obsess over footage too much because guys will change to a certain degree as time goes on.

"But you look at more recent stuff to get an idea of how they scrummage and then see what's caused them trouble in the past and try to formulate a strategy that will help you implement that.

"It gets complex but it's up to you to deal with it. If they're trying to take your space, you need to come up with a strategy to nullify that.

"That's what I enjoy about it. It's a little bit like chess. You have to come up with strategies to nullify each other.

"It's like a back-line move that comes off. If you're implementing a scrummaging policy that is causing the opposition maximum difficulty, you do derive satisfaction from that."

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