Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Ireland head coach Andy Farrell open to Porter loosehead switch, but he's 'number 1 tighthead ' for now

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says it is a possibility that Andrew Porter switches back to loos...

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says it is a possibility that Andrew Porter switches back to loosehead in the future, but that the Leinster man is their first choice tighthead as things stand.

With Tadhg Furlong yet to play since rugby's return from lockdown in August, Porter has been the clear first choice tighthead with both Leinster and Ireland in recent months, to the extent he played 80 minutes in last week's defeat to England.

Porter starts again versus Georgia on Sunday, with John Ryan supporting him from the bench.

The 24-year-old has played the bulk of his professional rugby at tighthead, having been converted from a loosehead during the 2016/17 season.

But with looseheads Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne and Jack McGrath now all on the far side of 30, it's believed Porter could move back to the position which saw him star as an underage prop for Ireland.

Asked about the potential for that to happen today, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says it's something they have considered, but the current injury to Tadhg Furlong means it's unlikely to be anytime soon.

"There's been a bit of debate about that, but again with injuries in his position at tighthead he's obviously been number 1 tighthead for us with Tadhg struggling with injury a little bit.

"It's always been in our minds about the opportunity or the option of swapping him over, but at this moment in time he's 100 percent our number 1 tighthead with Tadhg being injured," he said.

"We'll see what the future brings, you know? We'll see how other people come through in the tighthead position as well. Obviously Tom O'Toole was involved with us previously, he's been out for quite some time and just played his first game back. We've got to roll with the punches and see what the opportunities presents to us in the future."

Prop Life

Finlay Bealham starts at loosehead this week, with the Connacht prop making his first test start in two years. And while the bulk of Bealham's rugby has been played at tighthead, Farrell says they've been willing to give him a go in the 1 shirt for some time.

"Finlay Bealham - obviously playing at loosehead is something we've been thinking about for a while - and one or two others in that are as well, because we need to try and build a bit of background in that area of the game for ourselves as well. Finlay has been in fine form for us, he's certainly a guy that's able to get around the field and bring some physicality to his game, so we're excited to see how he goes at loosehead."

Debut for Daly

Munster utility back Shane Daly will become the 10th debut given out by Farrell in 2020, with the Cork Con man named on the bench.

Having been involved with the squad since the final games of the Six Nations in October, Farrell says he had been hoping to get Daly his first test cap even sooner.

"That's the special one, isn't it? To be able to give somebody the opportunity hopefully off the bench, to get his debut for his country is a special moment for him and his family.

"He deserves it. He's a guy that's had a bit of bad luck during this tournament regarding injuries. He was injured just before he came into camp for around three or four weeks. He came in fully fit, and then re-injured a groin issue and missed a couple of weeks. But he's fitted in unbelievably well. We always talk about the different pressures of an international camp, especially for a youngster. He's fitted in very well, we're excited to see him.

"He's a player that can cover many positions for us as well, and out there on the field he's calm and collected within how he approaches the game, so we're hoping that he brings that to his debut performance at the weekend."

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Andrew Porter Andy Farrell Autumn Nations Cup Irish Rugby Tadhg Furlong