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Six Nations 2016 England v Ireland: Jack McGrath pleads for more streetwise scrum

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland prop Jack McGrath has said the side's scrum must be more "streetwise" if they are to secure a first victory at Twickenham since 2010 this afternoon (4.50pm kick-off).

The set-piece has been under pressure in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations - the tries conceded against Wales and France were both the product of a creaking scrum - but there is some hope that the return of Mike Ross to the tight-head jersey will shore up the unit.

McGrath, whose Test performances over the last year-and-a-half are keeping a fit-again Cian Healy on the bench, knows that Ireland need an improvement today against a sizeable English pack.

"It hasn't gone great in the first two games," he admitted.

"I think it will be a little bit different this time because England actually want to scrummage properly.

"I'm really looking forward to playing against them because we've had good battles against them in the past and it's going to be no different this weekend.

"For us, we want to go over there and meet them head-on and have a good ding-dong battle with them.

"You have to go over there and you have to meet them head-on, especially in Twickenham because it's such a cauldron and that's where they see their strong point.

"That's where we need to try and take that away from them."

The allusion to scrummaging "properly" comes after Ireland openly questioned the tactics used by French replacement props Eddy Ben Arous and Uini Atonio in Paris two weeks ago, and McGrath offered a gentle reminder to today's referee Romain Poite that the men in green are looking for a fair fight.

"Like, for us, we're trying to scrummage straight and legal and do everything we can," he said.

"So if it's interpreted the wrong way it's our issue and we have to take the referee and the touch judges out of it and sort it out, basically, on the pitch. You have to be streetwise as well."

When asked if Ireland had managed that thus far, he replied: "Probably not, no.

"You've seen the results and you've seen what's happened at the scrum so you've probably answered that yourself."

An almost ever-present in matchday squads since making his debut against Samoa in Joe Schmidt's first Test in charge, McGrath will be representing his country for the 28th time today but is sure the advice given to him on the occasion of his first cap will be shared with debutants Stuart McCloskey, Josh van der Flier and substitute Ultan Dillane.

"You're told you're there for a reason and just back yourself," he recalled.

"Just do what you've done to get there, don't get stuck in the moment. That was pretty much the advice given to me and the advice will be given to them, it's as simple as that really."

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