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TBeastT

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Porter back to loosehead? Surely a player of Alaalatoa’s quality isn’t too keen on being 3rd choice, even if he would get plenty of game time during internationals.
 

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Porter back to loosehead? Surely a player of Alaalatoa’s quality isn’t too keen on being 3rd choice, even if he would get plenty of game time during internationals.
Looks like it, not happy about it personally though. Ireland have two quality tightheads for the first time in the pro era and we're throwing it away.
 

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Porter back to loosehead? Surely a player of Alaalatoa’s quality isn’t too keen on being 3rd choice, even if he would get plenty of game time during internationals.
Good signing. With Furlong and Porter that’s probably the best trio of tightheads in Europe. Do you really need him though?

So yeah it's a weird one. As a lot of people are suggesting Porter back to looshead could be the plan, although I'd be loathe to do that. Having two top class tightheads for Ireland is a rare advantage and there's no guarantee anyone will develop to fill the role, also there's always the chance one of them is injured.

I think with the Lions tour and regular international duty it makes sense from a Leinster perspective. Bent is all but confirmed to be retiring and if we want to be competitive on two fronts next year (especially with the South Africans joining) we need to not be hurt by our scrum. Outside of the top two our tightheads are Vakh who's just back from being out for around a year with a back injury and the 21 year old Clarkson. Presuming Bent retires we'll have lost three tightheads in the last two years either to retirement or other provinces. In fact every province now has a Leinster tighthead on their books. So from a Leinster perspective I think Alaaltoa makes sense. From his own perspective it doesn't seem to presuming he wants to at least be in the top 23. Unless the plan is Porter switching. Since he got capped by Samoa, staying in NZ wasn't really an option but it's not like there's a lack of clubs looking for a top tighthead. I wonder if it's a mixture of brand recognition, encouragement from Crusaders coaches after the contact they've had with the Leinster staff and other clubs wanting to block him lining out for Samoa.
 

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From an Ireland and Leinster POV, I’d have thought Porter moving back to loosehead makes a lot of sense given Healy is 33 and AFAIK, there aren’t too many Irish qualified looseheads of obvious quality coming through.

Sure Kilcoyne is an option for Ireland but he’s 32 so not much younger than Healy.

For Leinster, I would have thought that a starting front row with Porter and Furlong with Ala’alatoa on the bench is quite a bit better than having Furlong and A. N. Other starting with Porter on the bench?
 

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From an Ireland and Leinster POV, I’d have thought Porter moving back to loosehead makes a lot of sense given Healy is 33 and AFAIK, there aren’t too many Irish qualified looseheads of obvious quality coming through.

Sure Kilcoyne is an option for Ireland but he’s 32 so not much younger than Healy.

For Leinster, I would have thought that a starting front row with Porter and Furlong with Ala’alatoa on the bench is quite a bit better than having Furlong and A. N. Other starting with Porter on the bench?
I can see the appeal, but it's also very easy to understand why people don't want it to happen. Having two quality tighthead props is something that hasn't happened in Ireland before and messing around with it can go wrong quickly. Porter did a lot of work to switch to tighthead in the first place. You're generally right about the looseheads, there are a few lads but anyone in the top talent band is well away from international rugby. You're also right that 1. Porter 3. Furlong 18. New guy is probably better than what we have now and I can see why Porter would be interested, an entire career of mostly being second choice for club and country isn't necessarily appealing to a guy who's shown he's good enough to be an international starter.

The opposition to it is generally based on the reality of Ireland needing two good tightheads and there not being obvious replacements of the same quality for Porter in green. There's a reality where Porter switches back, Furlong gets injured 6 months out from the World Cup without adequate backup and Porter has to switch sides again for the third time in his career. The IRFU loves meddling in things like this and it doesn't always work out as hoped and a lot of the time and unexpected solution to the problem they were trying to fix pops up anyway.

Anyway, it's likely going to happen. If we were signing a prop to replace his holiness Bent and be purely third choice you'd imagine there were probably cheaper guys available. Not to mention that Andy Farrell a) has talked about it before and b) seems to really rate Tom O'Toole, so presumably he sees a reality of 1. Porter 17. Wycherly probably 3. Furlong 18. O'Toole come the world cup which if it works would be great. He's also made it clear that he doesn't rate any of the looseheads outside Healy/Kilcoyne since he never calls them up unless he absolutely has to so it makes sense that he'd be interested in a switch.
 

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From an Irish pov I'd prefer Porter to stay where he is but from a Leinster POV the suggested is definitely better.

I'd also think Porter sees it as his chance to become a near automatic starter for both which isn't going to happen anytime soon with Furling about the gaff.
 

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Yep. Exactly my thinking.

O’Toole and Wycherley have good potential for the 18 and 17 shirts IMO.
 

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With regards to Porter switching back, it probably would make sense for Leinster, we now have more senior contracted THs than LHs and getting Porter and Furlong together on the pitch is quite tasty. Although I do think having the ability to bring on Porter for Furlong is something no other club can replicate and has allowed us to turn the screw on teams before along with keeping both guys pretty fresh. Of course we would be hoping that Alaaltoa can produce to a high level, mitigating that change and boosting us overall due to comparative lack of stars at LH. There's plenty of evidence that he can do that but it's not guaranteed, plenty of imports have come over and struggled to adapt, especially in their first year or so. Byrne and Dooley will never be standouts but I don't think they'll let us down either and with the level of the rest of our pack that's probably enough.

From an Ireland pov it's a much bigger risk. We'd be banking a lot on TOT. We can all see the potential there but there's a reason Moore started vs Northampton and will probably start against Leicester. His scrummaging isn't there yet and frankly there isn't any guarantee it ever will be. Farrell obviously does rate him but also appears to view him as a project. For every prop like Porter who develops their scrummaging there's a Buckley. I do agree there is a lot more apparent talent coming through at TH unless Jack Byrne absolutely bursts onto the stage.

Like LF said Porter has done a lot of work to get to where he is now. For a year or so after he switched sides he was getting dominated even at AIL level. It does appear from the WC warmups that he can switch back to LH with relative ease but obviously we want to avoid the scenario where he is constantly switching sides.

It's also interesting that the original props Leinster were rumoured to be after were Gomes Sa (a LH) and Isa Tu'ungafasi (mostly a LH), Alaaltoa has been primarily a TH but I believe has played LH for the Waratahs and Counties Manukau. I'm also not sure if Vakh is another guy who got converted from LH to TH.

It's an interesting dilemma facing the Leinster and Ireland coaching staffs, I think there's good reasons for going either way but I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that switching Porter is the plan at the moment.
 

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Vakh switched from loose to tight at u20 level.

Sounds like Toner will be staying for another season.
 

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Hawkshaw signs a senior contract and Penny re-signs.

I kinda wish they'd stuck to the old format of announcing all the renewals at once rather than this weird one contract on the half hour for a few hours everyday thing.
 

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Hawkshaw signs a senior contract and Penny re-signs.

I kinda wish they'd stuck to the old format of announcing all the renewals at once rather than this weird one contract on the half hour for a few hours everyday thing.
I agree. Could have been exciting maybe spread across one day, but over several days is annoying/torturous.
 

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Hawkshaw signs a senior contract and Penny re-signs.

I kinda wish they'd stuck to the old format of announcing all the renewals at once rather than this weird one contract on the half hour for a few hours everyday thing.
Penny signing is good. Keep Munster's paws off him.
 

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Keenan renewed too, unfortunate timing for his contract to be up, would probably be pushing for a cc if it was next year
 

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Milne gets a senior contract.

They starting earlier today?
 

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Cronin re-signs. Bit surprised but handy depth to keep around.
 

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With regards to Porter switching back, it probably would make sense for Leinster, we now have more senior contracted THs than LHs and getting Porter and Furlong together on the pitch is quite tasty. Although I do think having the ability to bring on Porter for Furlong is something no other club can replicate and has allowed us to turn the screw on teams before along with keeping both guys pretty fresh. Of course we would be hoping that Alaaltoa can produce to a high level, mitigating that change and boosting us overall due to comparative lack of stars at LH. There's plenty of evidence that he can do that but it's not guaranteed, plenty of imports have come over and struggled to adapt, especially in their first year or so. Byrne and Dooley will never be standouts but I don't think they'll let us down either and with the level of the rest of our pack that's probably enough.

From an Ireland pov it's a much bigger risk. We'd be banking a lot on TOT. We can all see the potential there but there's a reason Moore started vs Northampton and will probably start against Leicester. His scrummaging isn't there yet and frankly there isn't any guarantee it ever will be. Farrell obviously does rate him but also appears to view him as a project. For every prop like Porter who develops their scrummaging there's a Buckley. I do agree there is a lot more apparent talent coming through at TH unless Jack Byrne absolutely bursts onto the stage.

Like LF said Porter has done a lot of work to get to where he is now. For a year or so after he switched sides he was getting dominated even at AIL level. It does appear from the WC warmups that he can switch back to LH with relative ease but obviously we want to avoid the scenario where he is constantly switching sides.

It's also interesting that the original props Leinster were rumoured to be after were Gomes Sa (a LH) and Isa Tu'ungafasi (mostly a LH), Alaaltoa has been primarily a TH but I believe has played LH for the Waratahs and Counties Manukau. I'm also not sure if Vakh is another guy who got converted from LH to TH.

It's an interesting dilemma facing the Leinster and Ireland coaching staffs, I think there's good reasons for going either way but I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that switching Porter is the plan at the moment.
It's interesting, EOS has had more starts that TOT, but I'd say both are maybe a couple of years out from being internationally ready. Both have big work ethics, Tom is a really strong boy but needs maybe more big game involvements, however defensively both are outstanding. The scrummaging aspect comes with experience, I think both may be regular starters this time next year but we shall see. Developing props is not a strong point in Ulster rugby for whatever reason, but the talent for both is definitely there. O'Toole's biggest thing coming through the age groups is his handling skills are exceptional
 

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