Andrew Porter glad to be in thick of action ahead of 'huge block' for Leinster

Leo Cullen's men have some big games before Ireland's November series. 
Andrew Porter glad to be in thick of action ahead of 'huge block' for Leinster

BUSY MAN: Andrew Porter is raring to go ahead of a busy period for club and country.

Despite the temptation to slowly ease himself back into the provincial system, Andrew Porter was more than happy to be thrown in at the deep end by Leinster head coach Leo Cullen in recent weeks.

Having started all three tests on Ireland’s successful summer tour of New Zealand, Porter and his frontline international colleagues were rested for this season’s United Rugby Championship opener away to Zebre on September 17. However, the UCD graduate was subsequently recalled to the Blues’ front-row against Benetton at the RDS six days later and also lined out at loosehead prop for last weekend’s interprovincial derby with Ulster in Belfast.

Given the number of potential games he has for both province and country between now and the end of 2022, Porter was eager for an early return to on-field action.

“It’s nice being able to get back into things. The worst thing you can do as a player is take too much time off because obviously there’s huge games coming up. Not just at a provincial level, obviously there’s the November Internationals,” Porter said.

“First of all we’ve huge games with the URC. Last week we’d a huge interpro, this week we’ve the Sharks. Another huge test. They’ve won their last two games on the road, so it’s definitely a big challenge for us.

“After that we’ve more big games. We’ve Connacht in an interpro and Munster after that. It’s a huge block for us and we’re really excited.” 

While there was general satisfaction within the Leinster camp following their 20-13 victory against Ulster, the eastern province’s assistant coach Robin McBryde admitted earlier in the week that some of the decision making by the visitors in the second half didn’t reach the required standard.

17 points in front with 46 minutes on the clock, Leinster were made to sweat after John Andrew touched down off a line-out maul to spark a spirited fightback from Ulster.

Cell C Sharks are expected to pose a similar set-piece threat at the RDS tomorrow night (kick-off 5.05pm) and Porter acknowledged this is something that he and his fellow forwards will need to be prepared for.

“Obviously it was a hugely physical game up in Ulster at the weekend. It’s an incredibly tough place to go. The crowd is always behind them. It’s a noisy enough atmosphere. We’d be very disappointed that we let in a maul try. They are the standards we are setting. It’s another huge challenge given the style of play that a lot of South Africans bring.

“That power game. If they get a penalty, they’ll kick to the corner and maul you over. They’ll look to win penalties at scrum time. It’s a huge litmus test for us as a pack and individuals to see where we’re at, at this stage of the season.” 

Although this won’t be his maiden encounter with the Sharks - he featured in a 28-23 defeat against them in Durban last April - Porter will be hoping to face their national team for the first time when South Africa pay a visit to the Aviva Stadium on November 5. Ireland may be sitting on top of the world rankings for the time being, but the 2018 Grand Slam winner insists the Springboks remain a formidable side.

“I was in camp for my first Autumn Internationals [in 2017] and I didn’t get to play [against South Africa].They’re still reigning world champions so it’s a huge task and they’re champions for a reason. They’re an incredible team, but it’s an incredible opportunity for us as a team to try to take that,” Porter added.

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