From Rugby Coach Weekly
The role of the prop – especially the loose head or left-sided prop – is more than just simply being a good scrummager. Here are three areas in which Ireland’s Cian Healy is such a great attacking weapon.
Click here to see a video clip of Cian Healy in action.
1. Walk the scrum
One of the principal strengths of the loose head now has to be the ability to hold up the opposing tight head at a comfortable height so the scrum can be “walked” forward. This normally draws a penalty from the referee. In the video clip, note that when the tight head tries to drop the scrum height at 62:24 the loose head is able to pick him up off the floor and sustain the drive. This is even clearer on the replay.
2. Be a defensive “jackal”
Another aspect of the important multitasking a loose head may be required to undertake occurs at defensive breakdowns. Most of the top sides in the world now field a prop or hooker who is able to stand strong over the tackle ball and “jackal” for it effectively. Healy does this job for Ireland. Note that the jackal is achieved most successfully from the “assist tackle” position. In the video clip, the Ireland 12 makes the tackle initially while Healy assists in throwing the ball-carrier to the ground before going back in for the steal (see picture 1).
3. Become a ball carrier
The loose head usually gets his head out of the scrum and into open play first and is often placed at the back of a shorter lineout so that he can quickly become an important second wave ball carrier (see picture 2).
An ability to carry the ball well at first receiver and make the “hard yards” is therefore very useful. South Africa especially have always valued No.1’s who can carry successfully in traffic, like “Ox” du Randt and “the Beast” Mtawarira. Note Healy’s good forward body lean and the ability to keep his legs pumping through contact and shake off all but the most determined tackles.