Leo Cullen is convinced that Leinster and Ireland can both prosper on the back of the province’s decision to experiment by switching two of their top props from one side of the front row to the other.
The head coach has named Andrew Porter at loosehead for tomorrow’s URC visit of the Vodacom Bulls to Dublin. It will be the first time the recent British and Irish Lion has turned up there since November of 2016, after which he moved to tighthead.
Cian Healy has never worn a No.3 jersey. It’s impossible to remember a time when it was ever even considered in jest but the 33-year old veteran has been included on the bench this weekend as the province’s replacement tighthead.
Porter’s switch back to loosehead has been rumoured for a while now given Leinster are far less stocked in that department than the other, but it is not exactly standard practise for front row forwards to jump from billy to jack.
Healy’s case is little short of mind-blowing.
Consideration had been given to him starting there against Harlequins in a recent pre-season friendly but both players have apparently been working hard on their new portfolios through the summer.
The question is, how much time are Leinster prepared to give all this?
“We have a block of five games and I watched the Lions and that was the thing that intrigued me the most: how Trevor Nyakane played tighthead in the first Test and then at loosehead in the second Test, and the impact he made.
“There is no reason in my mind why the two lads can’t have a similar impact,” said Cullen. “They have that ability. They don’t get bogged down unnecessarily. They don’t get overawed by challenges. If anything, they embrace that challenge.
“Not so much for Andrew. He is a loosehead, he is a converted tighthead. We went through the process of being open-minded and seeing what it looks like and we have seen a fair amount over the course of pre-season which gives us confidence that we can persist with it for a period.
“Cian, it is probably more of a challenge for him than it is for Andrew. It is probably a bit more straightforward for Andrew.”
Watch this space.