Live

LIVE: OTB Weekend

02:00 PM-07:00 PM

LIVE: OTB Weekend
Advertisement
Rugby

"He has given Ireland a stronger scrum" | Keith Wood's Ireland front-row depth chart

The Former Ireland captain joined Ger and Eoin on OTB AM and assessed Andy Farrell’s front-row options

Cameron Hill
Cameron Hill

13:25 12 Jan 2022



Rugby

"He has given Ireland a stronger scrum" | Keith Wood's Ireland front-row depth chart

Cameron Hill
Cameron Hill

13:25 12 Jan 2022

With less than a month until the Six Nations kicks off, former Ireland captain Keith Wood ran through his Ireland front-row depth chart on Wednesday’s OTB AM

Andy Farrell’s side begin their campaign with the visit of Wales on February 6th.

Wood mentioned last month that it would be a straight shootout between Leinster duo Ronan Kelleher and Dan Sheehan for first-choice hooker. 

But Wood has now also given his thoughts on which players would pack down with either Kelleher or Sheehan in the front three.

Wood joined Ger and Eoin on OTB AM and assessed Farrell’s options at 1 and 3 respectively.

No. 1 - Andrew Porter

Wood settled on Andrew Porter as his pick for loosehead, edging out the stalwart Cian Healy.

Traditionally plying his trade on the other side of the scrum, Porter’s move from tighthead to loosehead has been one of the great success stories in Irish rugby over the last year.

Wood has been seriously impressed by Porter’s capacity to adapt to the position.

“Porter had been a loosehead originally, and moved over to tighthead,” Wood said. "Tighthead is notoriously difficult and almost damaging on players.”

“I do think there would be a liberation for him going across, but his reaction to going across has been beyond professional.”

“I think he has given the Leinster team and the Ireland team a stronger scrum.”

“The fact Cian Healy is still playing is pretty amazing, from the injuries he has had”, Wood continued. “The quality of his performances in the autumn were just fantastic.”

“So, I think you get an opportunity to get the most that you can get out of Cian Healy because Andrew Porter has moved over there.” 

“I think it has worked out incredibly well. There was a high level of risk involved in it, but we can’t sit here and say that we don’t want to see some risk.”

Wood: "All the ball carriers need to have that subtlety"

Wood further explained why he believes Cian Healy remains ahead of Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne in the pecking order.

“Dave Kilcoyne is incredibly powerful as a ball carrier, and that is very useful when you have the space to do so.”
Wood added: “What [Farrell] has looked to do is have a variety of different playmakers and a variety of different lines and pods.”

“You need ball handlers, so you don’t just need to be Dave Kilcoyne, running at huge, accelerated pace into contact or into space, doesn’t matter which. You can’t do that all the time.”

“There is a requirement for all the players who are ball carriers to have that subtlety.”

Tadhg Furlong 20 March 2021; Tadhg Furlong of Ireland celebrates a scrum penalty during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

 No. 3 - Tadhg Furlong

Wood had no trouble in selecting the New Ross man as the first-choice #3.

However, Wood feels things get complicated further down the field, with a significant dropoff in the quality of back-up tightheads. 

“I think Bealham has played pretty well this season. But I think there is a very large gap between him and Furlong, or him and Porter.”

“One thing I will say about Furlong is that Furlong does not need anyone behind him to push him. He is a setter of his own standards and there is just no issue with him at all.”

“We do need to try and upskill the other tightheads because there is a big gap there now,” Wood insisted. 

“I don’t know what Farrell will think, whether he’ll say, ‘we can definitely have Bealham or Tom O’Toole on the bench and we’re ok with that’.”

“But actually, if it really became a big issue, would it go back to Porter? I don’t know.”

“For me, the second-best tighthead is Andrew Porter - but he can’t play two sides of the scrum at once!”

Download the brand new OTB Sports App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

Subscribe to OTB Sports's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


Read more about

Andrew Porter Irish Rugby Rugby On Off The Ball Six Nations Tadhg Furlong

Live: Title

Description

Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share

Next up in queue

Title
Description
Duration

There are currently no podcasts in the queue

Go to podcasts

On Air

LIVE: OTB Weekend

LIVE: OTB Weekend

02:00 PM-07:00 PM

Share

Up next

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

07:00 PM-12:00 AM

Share

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

12:00 AM-02:00 AM

Share

Repeat: Off The Ball

Repeat: Off The Ball

02:00 AM-05:00 AM

Share

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

05:00 AM-07:00 AM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

07:00 AM-07:30 AM

Share

LIVE: OTB AM

LIVE: OTB AM

07:30 AM-10:00 AM

Share

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

12:00 PM-01:00 PM

Share

OTB Gold

OTB Gold

01:00 PM-02:00 PM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

02:00 PM-05:00 PM

Share

LIVE: Monday Night Rugby

LIVE: Monday Night Rugby

05:00 PM-06:00 PM

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on