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Leinster assistant coach Robin McBryde has praised the province’s forwards who starred in Ireland during the Fall Nations Series.
Leinster’s players dominated the starting pack selection for November’s three international games against Japan, New Zealand and Argentina and offered a wide variety of qualities in each game.
Seven Leinster forwards started the first two games against Japan and New Zealand, while the front row of Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong was a constant on the team’s sheet in all three games.
The Irish forward unit combined to score nine of the nineteen attempts the national team scored at the international break – all six forwards who crossed the line in green will go blue again in the coming weeks.
“They really have kept the trend: the forwards are outperforming the running backs by 3: 1 [16-6] in Leinster here too, ”McBryde said.
“So if it’s a sign of the times, a big change in rugby or if the runners need to improve their game, I don’t know what it is.
“It’s great to see that cohesion, both here in Leinster and with Ireland really, you know. I’m happy with just winning penalties or winning one against the head in the scrum and what you have, you know, scoring attempts, the more they can do, the better it really reflects on the work of the group. “
McBryde also noted that he was impressed with other aspects of the forwards’ games during the international break, highlighting the driving maul against Argentina.
Driving mauls and escapades from these mauls led to five of Ireland’s seven attempts in Dublin over the weekend, both directly and indirectly.
In addition to their scoring excellence, the Irish forwards excelled with powerful carries that helped their team gain important meters; the stats shown below are all through OptaJonny.
Caelan Doris topped the charts in the Fall Nations Series with 36 carries to her name, while her teammate Jack Conan had 32 in two games; the pair’s numbers represent 45% of Ireland’s total in all three games (152).
Conan committed at least two tacklers from 19 of those carries and was a useful lead option in the first two games.
Leinster’s two back rowers also had a strong ruck presence: Doris managed 99 rucks in total at the November Internationals, a total shared with Welsh and Dragons winger Taine Basham.
The evolution from three-man crash-ball expert strikers to mobile threats has been a trend that several national teams have picked up on, including Andy Farrell’s Ireland.
Tadhg Furlong’s role as open player in the first group of two in Ireland’s 1-3-2-2 attack underscores the threat of this tactic.
Furlong, arguably the most complete tighthead in the world, cut through defenses multiple times in all three Autumn Nations Series games with the ball in his hands.
Josh Van Der Flier and Ronan Kelleher should also be commended for their carrying capacity, as well as Ryan Baird, who excelled against Argentina.
All of the forwards mentioned are on Leinster’s books and McBryde believes the multifaceted capability of today’s packs is a great asset to both the province and the country.
“You can’t just rely on size, if you have lemons, you make lemonade. You’re never going to have the biggest herd, here in Leinster or in Ireland really, so you’ll have to play to your strengths and I think that’s what Ireland has done in the last month … “
“… that’s what the modern striker is really about: being able to contribute on the field and, obviously, nail the play as well.”
Leinster returns to action Saturday night when they host Ulster at the RDS Arena for their first interprovincial clash of the season.
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