Ronan O'Gara comments on Dan Leavy's brutal battle with David Pocock are spot on
'They'd better have a red button for Dan Leavy versus David Pocock!'
That was the take of The Hard Yards team as they anticipated Ireland pitching Leinster flanker Dan Leavy into a fearsome breakdown battle with Australian poacher-supreme David Pocock.
The Wallabies flanker made light work of Ireland at the breakdown in the First Test and Joe Schmidt has counter-acted that by bringing in Devin Toner and Dan Leavy for the second helping, in Melbourne.
Former Ireland internationals Kevin McLaughlin and James Downey discussed Leavy vs. Pocock [from 23:30 below] and Ronan O'Gara has pitched in on the matter, in his Examiner column, with a brilliant observation.
O'Gara is looking forward to the battle of the No.7's as much as the rest of us, and says a wise head could make a lot of money selling tickets to that alone. He remarked:
'Dan Leavy has a face you don’t want to argue with. Every crease, crevice, and scar speaks of a personality which doesn’t take a backward step, neither physically or metaphorically.'
McLaughlin spent much of his career, with Leinster and Ireland, at the breakdown coal-face. He was in awe of Pocock's stunning return to Test rugby after 18 months away. "It was pretty incredible but, you know what, he's generally illegal," he says.
"Looking back at his approach and the way he actually makes his poaches... he actually has this ability to fall with the tackled player, attach to the tackled player. Doesn't release, gets straight back up and he never really releases the tackled player. He has such a low centre of gravity and huge upper-body strength. He latches on with his arms and uses his arms to leverage him up, and he gets his hips up in the air. He paints a really nice picture for the referee."
"And he isn't always actually going for the ball. Sometimes he is just blocking the ball in. So it looks like he is trying to get the ball but he's in a really nice position and it is next to impossible to clean him out. Because he falls with the tackled player and there is no release, it is very hard for the referee."
Jordi Murphy may have taken the fall for being unable to quell Pocock and Wallabies captain David Pocock at the breakdown but Ireland will be well aware that a collective effort is required.
Still, having a formidable, young man like Leavy in-situ will be a massive help. It should be a fascinating watch.