Wales prop Keiron Assiratti. Pic: Getty Images.

Every Dog Has Its Day . . . And Keiron Assiratti Is Ready To Add Some Bite For Wales Against Ireland

By David Williams

Keiron Assiratti wants to show Wales can add some bite to their bark in Dublin next week.

So far, Wales have threatened but not delivered after two defeats in the opening rounds of the Six Nations.

Now, Assiratti is ready for big dogs Ireland after time spent mulling over his future with his pet sausage dog, Pixie.

Less than a year ago, Assiratti’s future in rugby looked bleak after the Wales prop was told by Cardiff they could not afford to keep him.

The 26-year-old was in danger of becoming a rugby stray, turfed out by his owners.

But Assiratti’s form forced a re-think and now he will be the guard dog of the Wales pack at tight-head as they try and muzzle double Grand Slam-chasing Ireland next Saturday.

“I was thinking of signing for Merthyr and I probably would have taken a side job,” admits Assiratti.

“I don’t know what. I’ve no idea. I’d have just had to wing it!”

But hard training away from Pixie – “she doesn’t stop barking, she does my head in” – gave the forward from the Rhondda Valley a dogged determination to dig in.

“I had to think about getting a job for my family, to try and secure everything. But I didn’t know what I was going to do.

“I just had to play as well I could and see what happened. Now, I can say I’m doing quite well so it’s been a big turnaround.”

Assiratti made his Wales debut last summer and featured in the first two rounds of this Six Nations, both of which ended with narrow defeats against Scotland and then England.

His record against Irish teams is like most current Welsh players – somewhere between poor and awful.

He has one win, one draw and 18 defeats and will be part of a Welsh squad attempting what would be a huge shock by winning in Dublin in the tournament for the first time since 2012.

His solitary victory over an Irish team came six years ago, when Cardiff beat Connacht, 17-15.

“I feel like it’s going to come so people just have to be a little patient with us,” adds Assiratti.

“But as (Wales captain) Dafydd Jenkins has said, we can’t keep going on about having a young squad. We just have to go there and meet fire with fire.”

For Assiratti that will mean coping with the power of Andrew Porter, the Irish colossus who already looks like the favourite to wear the No.1 shirt for the British and Irish Lions in Australia next year.

“He has been good for Ireland for the last, I don’t know how many years.

“But I am enjoying playing and having the exposure of my first Six Nations. It was good to go up against Joe Marler and England last weekend.

“He’s a really experienced loose head, but it was a good battle between us.

“Even though the results haven’t gone our way we feel like we are fighting and it is going to come.”

Assiratti will pack down with Corey Domachowski in the Wales front frow, the loose-head he has played alongside since their schooldays.

“Corey doesn’t stop talking. He could talk a glass eye to sleep.

“Within our squad he is also on the joke of the day committee, but his jokes aren’t very good.”

It will be the biggest punchline of the tournament so far if they finish on the winning side.

 

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