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Ross ready to seize Ireland chance

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Mike Ross

Mike Ross

Mike Ross

Mike Ross is ready to rally Ireland's retreating scrum when they open their RBS 6 Nations against Italy on Saturday.

The Irish set-piece, traditionally viewed as a weak link in their game, endured a torrid time last autumn when it was taken apart on several occasions. Calls to draft in scrum specialist Ross were ignored, but his position as the country's in-form tighthead could not be overlooked for the Six Nations.

"There's certainly an element of pressure, especially as it's my first Six Nations appearance," he said. "The scrum concept is a strange one - if you're a prop that's what you're examined on. If you don't deliver. it's a bit like a hooker not hitting any of his targets in the line-out or a second row not taking any. But I've been given my chance now and I have to take it."

He added: "I take pride in my scrummaging. It's something there has been a lot of focus placed on in recent seasons.

"It's good to have a strong facet of one's game that is recognised."

Ross could hardly have asked for a tougher assignment for his first foray into the Six Nations.

While Italy's overall limitations prevent them from flourishing in the competition, they remain one of the most feared scrummaging units in the game.

"Playing Italy in Rome is certainly a measure of where you are," said Ross.

"The Italians have a very good scrum, they're very aggressive and very strong. There's Martin Castrogiovanni, who does the business week in and week out in the Premiership.

"And there's Andrea Lo Cicero and Salvatore Perugini, who are strong men and no shrinking violets. You know that if you don't front up in that area there's going to be a long afternoon ahead of you."

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