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Moore Primed For Scrum Showdown With Les Bleus

Moore Primed For Scrum Showdown With Les Bleus

With the ‘major job’ of overcoming the Italian pack done, Martin Moore now fixes his eyes on France this weekend. Moore recovered from injury to get game-time at Leinster before the RBS 6 Nations and he seems to be reaping the rewards. That gave him the opportunity to put his hand up for selection and head coach Joe Schmidt liked what he saw.

It has been a roller-coaster twelve months for Martin Moore. Being brought into the matchday 23 for the first time in last year’s RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland was just the beginning. In 17 minutes he made enough of an impact to be retained for the Welsh match.

Just over a month later, he was preparing for what turned out to be a Championship-winning performance by Ireland in Paris. Not too bad for a player who was part of Lansdowne’s Ulster Bank League title success the previous spring.

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The setback of a shoulder injury saw the 23-year-old miss out on the recent GUINNESS Series, but there was no easing him back into the blue jersey. He showed that he was back to his best with starting roles in Leinster’s victories over Cardiff Blues and Castres Olympique and in the drawn game against Wasps.

“Last year, coming into the national squad, it was all new. Everything was a first for our first game, debut and this year I am a little bit more relaxed,” admitted Moore.

“I suppose the fact that I’ve been out for so long injured, kinda looking in on it, has given me a load of time to prepare, mentally, and speaking to Enda McNulty in the set-up and knowing our plays, I’m more comfortable coming back into the environment at this stage.”

The RBS 6 Nations winners’ medal capped off a breakthrough year for the young tighthead prop, giving him a level of confidence this season against any opposition. With the competition for places increasing, Moore feels that dealing with being picked to start or given a bench spot is just another part of professional sport.

“Everybody wants to play and everybody knows that. But you have to put that straight to the back of your mind when you hear the team announced. Based on whatever happens, it is irrelevant then because especially as a prop forward, you are almost guaranteed to be on the field which is something you can plan for.

“The way we play, everyone has to make their involvement worthwhile and you can’t dwell on the fact that you are out there first or you are coming on later in the game. You have to make the impact that you can. Hopefully by doing that, that is how you will be selected in few games.”

The powerful French pack helped secure a 15-8 win over a battle-hardened Scotland side in Paris last Saturday. There is a small bit of unfinished business with France from last year, with Moore admittedly unhappy with how some of the scrums went in the final quarter.

This weekend is a chance to put things right as he now knows what to expect from les Bleus. But a year is a long time in professional sport, admits Moore, and having watched the performance against the Scots, facing the French on Saturday will be another tough ask.

“I’ve only seen edited clips but, generally, (they’re) the usual France. They’re a powerful team but they’re also so dangerous. We know we have to be so disciplined, as a collective. We’re going to have to work very hard.

“They have a lot of dangerous players that can open up holes, as they did against the Scots. They’re on the back foot when all of a sudden, Mathieu Bastareaud or Wesley Fofana cuts back and Yoann Huget is off down the wing.

“They are a team that even when they are on the back foot, you have to keep pressing forward. You can’t ease off at any stage. At set-piece time, the French, you never really know what to expect. It’s never going to be an easy day and as a more experienced player this year, I know what to expect,” he added.