If you watched Ireland’s U20s take on Wales in Dublin last Friday evening then chances are that the sheer size of the Leinster loosehead prop Andrew Porter stood out every bit as much as the abandon with which Nigel Carolan’s offloading side played.
An impressive performer on Ireland’s Junior World Cup team last year, Porter’s performances have had to vie with his sheer proportions for attention with Carolan saying late last month that the player was already bigger than most senior props in the business.
So, just how big is he right now?
“I’d be about 119kg, getting there,” he said yesterday through a broad smile.
Word on the grapevine is he is breaking all sorts of gym records.
“Yeah, well I wouldn’t be far off, really.”
And his best?
Power isn’t his only special feature. Porter ran 50 metres for a try while playing with UCD recently. He seems very much in the Cian Healy mould in that he dearly loves the opportunity to tuck the ball under his shoulder and take off.
He was just one among a number of physically imposing players highlighted by Carolan prior to last week’s disappointing first Six Nations outing against Wales when a more experienced visiting pack had their number at the breakdown and experienced some joy at scrum time as well.
“We gave away two easy penalties so we’ve been working on it a good bit this week,” Porter explained.
“And we have been reviewing the French scrum. We had a look at them against Italy. They used it well and as part of their attack plays.”
France in Narbonne tomorrow isn’t far off the ultimate test for a rugby player of his ilk. The U20s have won just once on the continent, back in 2012 when a side boasting talents such as JJ Hanrahan, Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson had one point to spare in Grenoble.
That said, Porter was one of the nine players in the squad named yesterday for tomorrow’s outing who also featured last April when the Irish U19s secured a 13-10 win over their Gallic counterparts at the French union’s national training centre in Marcoussis.
Changes have been kept to a minimum this week despite the Welsh defeat.
Full-back Jack Power misses out through injury which sees Hugo Keenan move over from the wing and Conan O’Brien slip in at 11 having featured off the bench last week.
Ireland Sevens player Terry Kennedy comes in as cover on the bench.
Also unavailable through injury is openside flanker Will Connors who impressed early on against the Welsh before being forced off. His place goes to Dan Walsh of Cork Constitution.
The last change sees Conor Kenny replace Sligo’s Conan O’Donnell at loosehead.
Ireland (U20s v France):
H Keenan (UCD/Leinster); M Byrne (Terenure/Leinster), S Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster), J O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), C O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster); J McPhillips (QUB/Ulster), J Poland (Cork Constitution/Munster); A Porter (UCD/Leinster), A McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), C Kenny (Buccaneers/Connacht); P Claffey (Galwegians/Connacht), J Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster); C Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht), D Walsh (Cork Constitution/Cork), M Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster).
S Fenton (Young Munster/Munser), J Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster), C O’Donnell (Sligo/Connacht), S O’Connor (Cashel/Munster), K Brown (Shannon/Munster), S Kerins (Sligo/Connacht), B Connon (Newcastle Falcons), T Kennedy (St Mary’s/Leinster).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved