Six Nations 2014: Rory Best welcomes front row competition

Rory Best
Rory Best

Ireland hooker Rory Best says a new generation of players is providing stiff competition for front row places.

Rookie international props Jack McGrath and Martin Moore have turned Ireland scrummaging sessions into a fearsome contest, according to the Ulsterman.

"When we're training in the scrum now, if you don't get it right, you're going to get done and that's important," said the 31-year-old Irish number two.

"It obviously brings competition for places, which is good for everyone."

Rory Best says lessons have been learned from the defeat by New Zealand

Leinster duo McGrath, 24, and Moore, 22, are likely to be on the bench for Sunday's Six Nations opener against Scotland in Dublin.

Fast-developing tighthead Moore is expected to win his first cap as a replacement, with experienced campaigners Cian Healy and Mike Ross Ireland's starting props.

Ulster hooker Best will win his 71st cap, with Sean Cronin among the replacements and McGrath in line for just his fourth international outing if he is called upon.

Best admits Ireland's forwards have sunk their teeth into some testing scrum tussles in training at their Carton House base in preparation for the Six Nations.

"The young guys are coming through and there's some real competition in training now.

"From that side of things it's great to see, especially with their age profile too, these guys are young and have a fantastic future ahead of them.

"It's important that they know that getting into the extended squad is just step one.

"Getting into the match-day squad is step two, and then you've got to be looking to start and push to better yourself every time.

"That's the attitude they will adopt, they've already given that impression, and it's great for the squad.

Jack McGrath
Prop Jack McGrath has won three Ireland caps

"Competition for places drives everyone on and hopefully raises standards across the board."

Moore has just 23 senior Leinster appearances to his name since his provincial debut in April 2012.

He racked up 18 of those in his breakthrough season, and secured a new Leinster deal, snubbing interest from the likes of Aviva Premiership clubs Exeter and Harlequins.

The Castleknock College and Ireland Under-20s graduate is highly regarded in Irish Rugby Football Union quarters, and looks to have earned a first chance to impress under head coach Joe Schmidt.

Provincial team-mate McGrath made his Ireland debut in the 40-9 November Test victory over Samoa, claiming man-of-the-match honours.

Ireland boss Schmidt is likely to make few changes from the starting line-up that lost out so agonisingly 24-22 to world champions New Zealand in Dublin in November.

Luke Fitzgerald and Dave Kearney are the primary contenders to partner Fergus McFadden on the wings when former Leinster coach Schmidt names his squad to face Scotland on Friday.

Ulster flanker Chris Henry should slot in for Sean O'Brien, who will miss four months' action after shoulder surgery, and that could free up a spot on the bench for the uncapped Cardiff Blues loose forward Robin Copeland.

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