Ireland prop Mike Ross is set for his third game in as many weeks against Australia tomorrow. Having not played for 30 days before running out against South Africa, Ross insisted that it is rare that a player will get to play a game being 100% fit.
“Never…here’s the thing like, apart from pre-season most guys will go into a game with some sort of a niggle. That’s the same in the majority of cases. I don’t think you’re ever going to feel 100% but if you’re 95% that is generally good enough,” explained Mike Ross, as he spoke ahead of the GUINNESS Series showdown with the Wallabies.
“As the season goes on, you’re get bangs, you get little knocks. You’d never go into a game with a torn cruciate, for example. Some guys might have a sprained finger or little niggles – something that will annoy you but is not going to stop you from playing to the best of your abilities.”
While the experienced tighthead stated it was not ideal for him to go straight into the team for South Africa having been sidelined for the previous month with a groin problem, he was surprised with how good he felt on the field of play.
A month off contact work and off-field conditioning helped free up some niggles he did have but match fitness was something he had to battle with against the Springboks.
“No (I’d never say I’m not match fit). Match fitness is different. If you’re not match fit you just suffer more. You just know you’ll be blowing out of your arse – you just have to deal with that!
“Ideally, you’d like to be cruising about the place but you know you have to put yourself through the wringer first to get there.”
Ross said it is a myth that the Australian pack is weaker than some of the top international eights, mentioning the concession of a number of penalties during last year’s 32-15 loss to the Wallabies as a sign they will be no pushovers this time around either.
“It is a stick people have beaten Australia with for a long time but every time you beat them with it, they come back stronger. I remember one time before they played England (last year), the talk was that England were going to mince their scrum and the shoe ended up on the other foot.
“First of all Australia have good players, so that helps. Secondly, they are very clever. They have more than one string to their bow. It’s never just ‘route one’ with them.
“They might have one bad scrum and then come out with a good one. It’s not like every scrum is going to be bad – they’ll have good ones. They have a lot of strength in their scrum, as they showed in the Rugby Championship.”
Jonathan Sexton praised Australia boss Michael Cheika as the coach who changed the mentality at Leinster and Ross agreed that Joe Schmidt has done likewise for Ireland. The attention to detail and the level of intensity he has brought has players likening training toughness and intensity to that of match day.
But there are marked differences between Schmidt and his opposite number this weekend, according to the 34-year-old front rower.
“Joe has brought a focus like never before on players knowing their roles and exactly what they have to do at every phase and executing that perfectly, as that is how our game-plan works. If one guy is out of sync, that affects the whole thing.
“‘Cheiks’ is probably a bit more fire and brimstone than Joe would be. Different coaching styles but both are pretty effective.
“Some of these southern Hemisphere guys probably don’t know your name. That’s the impression you get but that certainly won’t be the case with Cheiks.
“I had him for years and I have an idea (of his style). Every team he puts out always fronts up and looks to win the collision. I’m sure Australia will be no different this weekend,” he added.