Rory Best wants Ireland’s squeaky-clean scrummaging record to be “protected” by the officials in Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations clash with Wales in Dublin.
Captain Best admitted he and boss Joe Schmidt will reiterate Ireland’s desire to scrummage “as legally as anyone can” to referee Glen Jackson before the Wales encounter.
Ireland head coach Schmidt this week claimed Wales loosehead Rob Evans “is a tricky customer, the angles and stepping around”, and skipper Best has upped the ante by asserting the hosts’ plans for best behaviour at the set-piece.
“We pride ourselves on how we scrummage and how we try to be effective, but we try to scrum square and scrum legally – or as legally as anyone can,” said Best.
“And the big thing for us is that if we can stay like that and keep the weight on, if other things happen to compromise the scrum going down or the scrum wheeling, that the referee takes it into consideration.
“I know the coaches will be talking to him. And that will be our simple message before the game: that we have shown in the past that we want to scrummage straight and we do scrummage straight, and we scrum legally.
“And all we ask is for that to be respected, and I suppose protected.
“It’s a real test for us because we’re going to have to make sure that we do some things really, really well.”
Ireland must face Wales without injured British and Irish Lions trio Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and Robbie Henshaw.
Prop Furlong and second row Henderson both miss out with hamstring problems, leaving rookie duo Andrew Porter and James Ryan to lock out the tighthead side of Ireland’s scrum.
Best insisted that Porter can cope on his Test match baptism of fire however, despite the 22-year-old only switching from loosehead to tighthead midway through last season.
“He doesn’t look overly young for the size of him,” said Best, of Porter, who will win just his fifth Test cap at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
“He’s taken to tighthead and to international rugby really well.
“He’s always learning, he’s inseparable from Cian Healy here at the minute, and it’s the same at Leinster.
“He’s a young, enthusiastic kid that just wants to learn, and he keeps getting better and better.
“The way he prepares and goes to training, he’s ready to take this step.
“Having Tadhg (Furlong) there was a lovely buffer to let Andrew come on and just get used to the level, but sometimes your chance comes at someone else’s misfortune.
“But the last five minutes was probably arguably his best five minutes, which is exciting and says a lot about his conditioning.”