Rugby Des Berry: ‘Leinster ace Andrew Porter needs a return to loose head to realise his potential’

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Rugby Andrew Porter. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Andrew Porter. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

It was the eve of the 2016 U20 World Cup final. England coach Martin Haag would have been well aware of how to stop Ireland, in their first final, at the AJ Bell Stadium.

They would place a heavy emphasis on Ireland’s Big Three up front – James Ryan, Max Deegan and Andrew Porter.

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Loose-head Porter had terrorised the tournament with his physicality on both sides the ball. He had earned the nickname ‘The Terminator’ for good reason, flying up out of the line to obliterate opponents.

The English implemented a two-man plan on the gain line to stop Porter from gaining momentum. It worked. Of course, the long-term succession planners at Leinster would have known they had a diamond in their hands.

The question was: where would he be best polished? The coaches are notoriously slow to push players before they are ready to jump up to the professional game.

Nonetheless, ten weeks later, Porter made his PRO14 debut as a replacement against Benetton.

The first start on his second cap followed in February 2017 at loose-head, his one and only start in the position for the province.

At the time, there were just three tight-heads listed on Leinster’s 2016/2017 squad against four loose-heads with Mike Ross three months away from retirement.

Scrum coach John Fogarty suggested Porter move to tight-head as a matter of necessity. He has been there ever since.

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Leinster star Andrew Porter is featuring on both sides of the scrum for Ireland (Donall Farmer/PA)

Still. Times change. And so do personnel. This season, the Leinster senior squad includes four tight-heads, Furlong, Michael Bent, Vakh Abdaladze and Porter and three loose-heads, Cian Healy, Ed Byrne and Peter Dooley.

That trend continues in the Academy, where th

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