Prop Marcus Horan believes Ireland have the potential in their scrum to surprise teams at the forthcoming World Cup, admitting that the Irish forwards thrive on criticism of their set piece play. Read on for the thoughts of the 47 times-capped front rower.
ON PLAYING ITALY LAST WEEK:
“The Italians would be one of the best in the world at scrummaging I suppose and it was a great run-out for us. With the pool that we’re in for the World Cup, it’s going to stand to us down the line.
“It’s important get those games. We set ourselves up against these teams and try and grade ourselves against them every season so it’s important to have a game like that under our belts heading towards the World Cup.”
ON POOL D RIVALS ARGENTINA AND IRELAND’S SCRUM:
“I think the Argies will probably be leading the way scrummaging wise. Our scrum is going really well. We are very happy with the way training is going and the progress we have made. It’s great that we always have our critics – it keeps us going.
“On Friday night against Italy we obviously didn’t start well but I think it was more to do with the interpretation of the referee’s call. We got the hang of it in the second half and we put them under pressure in one or two scrums. We got one or two against the head which is a great thing against an Italian side.
“We pitted ourselves well in the Six Nations too against France in the second half of the game at Croke Park and the boys did well out on the summer tour in Argentina. It’s a place we can surprise these two teams (Argentina and France) and hopefully give it a good go.
“On French soil, if their scrum is under pressure, the crowd tend to turn against them so it’s an important area of the game we should try to exploit.”
ON CRITICISM OF IRELAND’S SCRUM AGAINST ITALY:
“I can understand when it comes to Friday night and one or two scrums early in the game, but to be honest that was a mix-up between us and the referee’s (Nigel Owen’s) calls.
“His calling was slightly different to what we were used to and the I think the Italians were, we felt, jumping the gun on the call. To be honest, I suppose they were just interpreting it that bit better than us but we got the hang of it in the second half.
“It is disappointing from our point of view that it took that long to get it right and get used to the call. The referee does come into the dressing room and discuss it with us beforehand but our interpretation going out was slightly wrong.
“His call was a bit quicker than a normal referee but that is something we just have to get used to and study up a bit more on each referee. Maybe that was a bit of naievity on our side going into the game. But physically we gave it to them and I believe their front row faded a fair bit. Our fitness showed through and we lasted that bit longer than them.”
ON DIFFERENT REFEREES’ INTERPRETATIONS OF THE SCRUM:
“I think we do have Nigel (Owens) and we have the benefit of that now and knowing how he works. It’s just down to us to get the small things right – if it’s a fraction of a per cent it will go a long way.
“Those things need to be worked on. If it’s a referee’s call we have to know how to deal with it. If that helps us down the line, it’s only going to be of benefit.
“It does change from referee to referee. Some put a huge emphasis on the pause. There can be a huge pause and sometimes that pause is varied. With some guys, it’s the same all the time and you kinda wonder ‘which is good?’
“Obviously there will be teething problems at the start of a game if you’re not used to the referee but we’ve no excuse now. We will have had Nigel and we’ll know what way he works next time. It’s no fault of the referee. That’s how he works and it’s down to the players to get it right.
“It’s all very fine a referee coming in and telling you what way he is going to say it in the dressing room beforehand but the proof of the pudding is when you actually go out there and do it. That’s a bit different. We’re just disappointed it took us too long to get it right and wise up to it.”
ON IRELAND FINDING A LEVEL OF CONSISTENCY:
“It’s important we try to put things right but from a personal point of view it’s disappointing that we haven’t got that level of consistency, in terms of building on it when we do have a good game. That’s important from our point of view.
“There are certain games you are very disappointed with, then you go out next time and it goes well and everyone is nearly slapping each other on the back and saying how great you are.
“You have got to build on the positives as well as working on the negatives and that is something that I would be personally disappointed with – that we haven’t got that level of consistency yet.
“But there’s no better place to work on it than in this pack. Everyone is talking about France and Argentina but I would say Georgia will have some big units in their pack and will be well able to scrummage so it’s important we don’t forget that either.”