PLAYING at No 8 is not as simple as leaning on the back of the scrum and giving it a bit of a shove.
I did it 54 times for England and another 281 for Harlequins.
Along with your half-backs, the No 8 has the capacity to influence any game.
It is a position of utmost influence and impact on any type of match, be it wet and wild in Edinburgh or on a summer’s day.
And that is why it requires someone in the shirt whose primary position is at No 8.
Flanker Curry will have been going through another intense crash-course this week in the five key areas that a No 8 needs to deliver on the Test scene.
FOOTWORK/SKILL AT THE BASE OF THE SCRUM
CURRY will now know that the ability at the base of the scrum and how you communicate and link up with your scrum-half is a very specialist skill.
On top of all of that, you’ve also got to angle your a*** to prevent the opposition scrum-half pressuring the base.
You have to control the ball under all sorts of pressure as the scrum wheels from side to side, shoots backwards and forwards.
You have got to keep that little egg safe while still putting all of your weight into it to help the lads up front.
It’s easier now than it used to be, with new laws only allowing the ball to be put in once the scrum is stable.
Front rows used to be allowed to ram into each other and the ball would squirt out anywhere — you needed your Go-Go Gadget legs on, but it’s a bit more controlled now.
You can do as much as you want in training, but nothing replaces that live practice and we saw Curry lose control of the ball a couple of times against France.
Controlling the ball can get so specific in terms of what foot you have on it, depending on where the scrum is going and what the opposition No 9 is doing — whether pressuring at the base or standing off to provide an extra man in defence.
Even the most experienced muck it up now and then, but the microscope will be on this aspect with 21-year-old Curry this weekend.
TRUCKING IT UP
IN nearly all teams the No 8 is the big ball carrier — and this is relied upon more when trying to generate slow ball to quick ball.
A lot of forwards and backs are very good at running lines, picking space and using footwork.
On the front foot, these new-age athletes show their abilities.
But, as we saw during England’s defeat in Paris, if you don’t have front-foot ball you need to be able to make something out of nothing to create time and space for the team.
A No 8 needs to be explosive from a standing start and use the correct body height, footwork and leg drive to help achieve this.
You’re the man the team look to when they are going nowhere and running into brick walls. Then it’s time to exert your influence
WE all know that forwards generally have limited brain capacity — but not the No 8.
He is the general among the pack and Curry has to be the guy that, during on-field meetings, is speaking to the decision-makers in terms of tactics.
The No 8 has to have the game understanding and present the point of view of the forwards — as these half-backs like to have all the answers at times!
I HAD a fantastic relationship with Danny Care over the years at Quins and England.
At international level I would spend a lot of time with the scrum-halves. I played with Shaun Perry, Andy Gomarsall, Ben Youngs and Richard Wigglesworth.
And after a session we would talk about calls for picking right, picking left, flicking the ball through the legs, passing right or left.
You nail it down and get used to the cues.
Sometimes they would like to give you a subtle tap on the a*** or a call.
You’re constantly under pressure at the base and there has to be that clear understanding.
CURRY should be looking to get his hands on the ball in attack at least 25 times at Murrayfield.
Whether that is 15 carries and ten passes, it doesn’t matter.
You need to be getting that many touches, to influence the game and get your own players shifting forward.
It goes without saying that you should be one of the highest contributors to the tackle count too.