Belfast Telegraph

Jack McGrath urged not to become distracted by Ireland hopes

 

Jack McGrath
Jack McGrath

By David Kelly

Rewind to 2017 and there was no question who was Ireland's first-choice No.1.

Jack McGrath was so established as a prop idol that Joe Schmidt felt it prudent to rest him from the spring trip to Italy.

A few months later, he toured New Zealand with the cream of British and Irish rugby.

That was then; two years on, McGrath will more than likely miss out on another Italian job - except this time it will not be because he is being rested but because he is not required.

Clubmate Cian Healy has re-asserted his dominance in the prop charts and, with Dave Kilcoyne making a timely burst, McGrath is on the outside.

Depending on Joe Schmidt's Roman ruinations, McGrath might hope for some salvation should the coach decide that Healy requires a breather.

It's difficult to know if Saturday's audition against Zebre advanced his uncertain claims; at times, the Leinster front five occasionally struggled.

At HQ, the reflections on the weekend are so sombre it is almost as if Leinster lost rather than romping to another five-pointer, scoring their 100th try en route to stretching their almost unassailable Guinness PRO14 conference lead.

Pressed as to whether McGrath might have earned himself a swift return to Italy this weekend, assistant John Fogarty said: "He needs not to be distracted by all of that. He needs to focus on himself, focus on developing and performing."

Belfast Telegraph

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