Leinster prop Andrew Porter (Image: ©INPHO/Evan Treacy)
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Andrew Porter admits he needs a scrum quick-fix before taking on man mountain Uini Atonio in Saturday's Champions Cup final.
But he insists that if Leinster "play smart" against La Rochelle they will achieve their hoped for fifth tournament victory.
The 26-year-old switched back to loosehead from tighthead ahead of this season.
It was an experiment that worked for Leinster and Ireland – transforming both front rows into one of Europe's most dynamic.
Yet there have been moments when Porter has struggled and that must be addressed before he faces La Rochelle's 37-year-old French international Atonio, who weighs over 30kg more than the Dubliner.
“It's huge," Porter said. "I played against him against France. Hey, it didn't go our way and we'll be looking back to La Rochelle last season as well.
“It's about learning from those days and boxing smart. Here look, we're just really excited for the opportunity. It's really exciting.
"Look, all we have to do is play smart. That's a huge thing about us.
"We might not be the biggest team in Europe but we've some of the smartest players in the world playing.
“We'll be trying to keep the pace high. That's something we really pride ourselves on.
"Hey look, we know exactly how big those French packs are, that's something they use with their power game in their scrum and maul.
“We know exactly what to look for. We can't wait to get back out there.”
Leinster coughed up nine scrum penalties in their last two European games, against Leicester Tigers and Toulouse.
Porter is quick to hold his hand up and insists that the scrum issues aren't part of a bigger malaise for Leo Cullen to address.
“Particularly because it’s kind of my side, it’s not a huge pack thing that we're looking at," Porter stressed.
"I’m trying to fix those mistakes against Leicester and Toulouse. It’s little small things – it’s not trying to reinvent the wheel here.
"You're trying to fine-tune things. That’s what you really need against La Rochelle's pack.
"We’ll have to be on top of our game in that sense – and myself in particular.”
Porter isn't interested in blaming his transition back to loosehead for his struggles.
“Look, it could be that but every game you play, you're playing against different opposition that scouted you so they know exactly what to look for," he said.
"Every game is different, every scrum you hit is different. You need to be able to learn out on the pitch as well."
A prop in the modern game can't just be judged on scrummaging either, even if it is a crucial factor.
They must also be able to contribute around the pitch, and in Porter and Tadhg Furlong, Leinster have two stand-out players in that regard.
Porter says it is something he has worked hard on. "Definitely," he remarked. "It is about being an all-round player.
"I try to be that all round player with off the ball work as well and not just carrying and tackling.
"My work rate and fitness, I've been trying to finetune that to be the best player I can be.
"It’s not just myself that has that expectation to be a better ball player.
"We want everyone to be comfortable on the ball and be good around the park as well because of the speed we play at.
"Sure you see Tadhg Furlong and how skilful he is – I'm just trying to work my way up to be as skilful as him some day.”
Stuart Lancaster on D-day for Tadhg Furlong, James Lowe and why Leinster need a 9/10 display against La Rochelle
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