Leinster: Andrew Porter owns up to scrum issues ahead of Champions Cup final

Colin Newboult

Leinster loosehead Andrew Porter insists that he is working hard to fix the scrum problems which have plagued the side over recent weeks.

Despite the comfortable victories over Leicester Tigers and Toulouse in the Champions Cup knockout stages, the Irish province were demolished in the set-piece.

Porter struggled against the Leicester and Le Rouge et Noir props and it is an area La Rochelle will undoubtedly target, particularly with Uini Atonio anchoring the scrum from tighthead.

Aiming to fix mistakes

“Particularly because it’s kind of my side of the scrum as well,” Porter told reporters. “It’s not a huge kind of a pack thing that we are looking at. I’m trying to fix those mistakes that I have made in those last games against Leicester and Toulouse.

“It’s little small things. It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel here. You trying to fine-tune a few things and that’s what you will really need against La Rochelle this week with the pack that they have. We’ll have to be on top of our game in that sense and myself in particular.”

Porter started his career as a loosehead but switched to tighthead when Ireland had plenty of depth in the number one position.

However, the 26-year-old has reverted back to the slot he played at age-grade level and admits that he is still learning about the role.

“Yeah, look, I suppose it could be but every game you play you are playing against different opposition that scouted you so they know exactly what to look for,” he said.

“Every game you play is going to be different and every scrum you hit is different in that sense as well so you need to be able to learn out on the pitch as well. It is down to that moving across where every day is kind of a learning day, in a game and in training as well.”

This match is a repeat of last season’s semi-final where La Rochelle utterly dominated and surprisingly overwhelmed the Irishmen physically.

The French outfit will once again bring a big pack to the Champions Cup showpiece event in Marseille but Porter is confident that Leinster will be able to counteract that power.

“Look, all we have to do is play smart,” he added. “That’s a huge thing about us. We might not be the biggest team in Europe but, hey, we have some of the smartest players in the world playing.

“We will be trying to keep the pace of the game high. That’s something we really pride ourselves on. Hey, look, we know exactly how big those French packs are, that’s something they use with their power game in their scrum and maul. We know exactly what to look for.”

READ MORE: La Rochelle grapple with ghosts of Finals past


Scrum battle key in Marseille

Former Leinster hooker Shane Byrne on how key the scrum battle will be in the Champions Cup final.