Lahiff relishes acid test for London Irish scrumBy Alan Manicom
October 04, 2012
Max Lahiff believes London Irish’s pack will learn tomorrow how much their scrummaging has really improved this season.
Exiles’ front row have shown up well despite the club’s disappointing start to their Aviva Premiership campaign.
But Lahiff is well aware that leaders Northampton Saints will provide the biggest test so far at set-pieces.
The 22-year-old loose-head claims that the progress is down to the arrival of new forwards coach Glenn Delaney in the summer.
He said: “With Glenn coming in, we have signed a lot of props and there has been a massive emphasis on our set-piece.
"It has been really good so far.
“In the last three games, maybe not so much (in the 35-11 defeat) against Worcester last Friday, we have been pretty dominant and got a lot of points out of squeezing people at scrum time.”
Lahiff also credits Scotland international Scott Lawson, a close-season signing from Gloucester, with helping his development.
He said: “Scott coming in has been really good for me. He has a lot of international experience.
“We have gone to being more independent in our set-up so we don’t rely so much upon the pack, on the lean.
"It is more independent. We are getting our own balance rather than relying on the locks.
"It is working really well. It allows us to get more weight through, which is good.”
But Northampton, who have won their first five games, are renowned for their forward power.
Lahiff added: “It will be a big test and I am really looking forward to it.
"They have a really good international-calibre front row.
“Brian Mujati, Soane Tonga’uiha and Paul Doran Jones are reputable set-piece merchants so it will be a really good acid-test for us.
"This will be where we see if we have got a lot better.”
Lahiff went to top rugby-playing school Wellington College, but was picked up by Irish while he was playing for Rosslyn Park colts as a 19-year-old.
He said: “At Wellington I was not very good. I was a late developer.”
And as Lahiff prepares to pack down against Doran Jones tomorrow, he said: “He is another Wellingtonian, so it should be a good laugh.”
The pair, though, never faced each other in their schooldays.
“He left the year I started,” said Lahiff, who is regarded by his team-mates as the strongest player in the squad.
He now has a rival for that claim, though, in new tight-head prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa.
The Fijian international can be seen box-squatting 260kg in six repetitions on YouTube and Lahiff laughed: “That is a serious squat. I have seen that video. It is pretty impressive.
"I would say I am stronger in the upper body department, but not there.”