With Andrew Porter sidelined for Ireland's two remaining Guinness Six Nations games, Andy Farrell has a call to make at loosehead prop.

The Ireland head coach will draft another front row into camp next week, but whoever arrives looks more likely to be a reserve rather than competing with Cian Healy and Dave Kilcoyne for minutes.

The number 1 jersey looks set to be a straight shootout between the pair. Healy has been the preferred second choice to Porter since November, but while he's outscored Kilcoyne for appearances during this Six Nations campaign, the Munster man has significantly more game time.

Kilcoyne bagged 37 minutes off the bench last week against Italy, while Healy's two earlier cameos as a replacement amounted to just 22 minutes.

The likely scenario is that Healy starts, with Kilcoyne's style of play lending itself to an explosive impact off the bench, but whichever way Farrell calls it, the timeshare is likely to be more evenly split.

Since Porter's switch across the scrum this season, his age and fitness means he's regularly been playing beyond 60 or even 70 minutes, with the ratio likely to fall back to a more traditional 50:30 over the next couple of games.

"I'm in a spicy battle now with Killer (Kilcoyne) for the week," said Healy at this week's Irish mini-camp.

"Both of us have been in and out in training, and you back each other in that role, getting on top of plays, 'where should we be?' and ‘this is what we should be doing’ and we’ve been working really well on that because we obviously get less reps than the starting team would get so we’ve been shouldering the burden on each other a bit, and I think we’ve been doing that really well.

"It’s going to be a nice week for us to get going."

Porter (L) has taken over as first choice loosehead from Healy (R)

The pair are actually the two oldest forwards in the Irish squad, with Healy 34-years-old and Kilcoyne 33, but it looks almost certain that they will be alongside Porter as the three main loosehead props Farrell is working with as we close in on next year's World Cup.

Kilcoyne is on record that he intends to keep playing until he's 40, while Healy recently signed a two year contract at Leinster, which will bring him up until the summer of 2024.

And with the three-time Six Nations winner fourth in Ireland's all-time list of caps with 114, he's likely to at least come close to Brian O'Driscoll's record of 133.

"I did have to take a step back and think about what the role is and what do I have to deliver. I was honest with myself and I was letting it get at me so I just parked it, because if I'm thinking about what minute it is in the game, I’m not really thinking about what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’m doing myself an injustice and the team an injustice."

Having been on the brink of retirement in 2015 following a neck injury, the Clontarf man's longevity can be attributed to his work off the pitch, with Paul O'Connell describing him as "a secret trainer" for the extra work he puts in around fitness and recovery.

"Yeah, I love that side of it," Healy added.

"There's something where you just kind of disappear and work on a few things for a while.

"It's kind of like a few personal feel-goods, personal gains, and it benefits you for your sports.

"It is an easy enough thing to do, to set aside a little bit of time to work on A, B or C. You're sitting on your phone in the evening, looking at the TV, I'd be looking up different recovery strategies, different rehab strategies and not just on Twitter and Instagram for the night."

Becoming a father in 2021 has also changed his perspective, as it's been known to with sportspeople, with his son Beau born in January of last year.

"I don't think it changed my approach to how I go about my business or anything, but down-time is a lot different and I can certainly switch away from it easier than I have before.

"If you come in off a bad day or a bad loss I’m not dragging that into a house with me. It’s nice. It’s a good part of it."

He admits there were plenty of occasions this season when he had to manage his frustration.

Having been the first name on the team sheet for both province and country for the majority of his career, he had to take a backseat this season when Porter switched across to become Ireland's new long term loosehead prop.

And while he played in each of Ireland's games in the Autumn Nations Series, he was on the pitch just over 50 minutes across the three of them, which he previously would have logged in one game last season. And of that game time, most of it came in the blowout wins against Japan and Argentina, playing just four minutes in the win against New Zealand.

"I struggled with it in November and I was getting a bit pissed off with coming on a bit later and stuff.

"But it's probably from the structure at Leinster and understanding at Leinster that you’re probably going to get 50:30 (minutes) and that’s literally week-in, week-out. I had probably expectations of that instead of going in fairly open-minded about it.

"I did have to take a step back and think about what the role is and what do I have to deliver. I was honest with myself and I was letting it get at me so I just parked it, because if I’m thinking about what minute it is in the game, I’m not really thinking about what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’m doing myself an injustice and the team an injustice.

"It was a hard-enough sit-down but I enjoyed the process of ironing it out and coming to a decision on how I’m approaching it and I think it’s done me fairly well so far, since then."

"I discussed it with my wife a bit, but it was probably just myself noticing that I was getting a bit bothered by it, and I shouldn't be, because I play the game to play the game. I don’t play the game to train every day of the week and I want to enjoy every opportunity there is to actually play the game and not be thinking about minutes or any of that."

Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Healy is likely to have a larger role in the team over the coming games, starting with Round 4 against England at Twickenham (live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player).

England have been functional without being flamboyant, bouncing back from their disappointing defeat to Scotland with wins against Italy and Wales.

However, Healy is expecting Eddie Jones' side to step up a level in the latter stages of the competition.

"It's one of the things you have to take into account when you travel there, for sure, the atmosphere, the walk into the ground, everything about it.

"They probably are due a big performance but I'd probably look inward at ourselves and I think we are (due one) as well.

"It's an odd enough one, but it goes back down to what we do on the paddock for the next week, as to how that game is going to turn out."

Listen to the RTÉ Rugby podcast on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow all of Ireland's Six Nations games via our live blogs on rte.ie/sport and on the RTÉ News App or listen to live radio coverage on RTÉ Radio 1. Watch live coverage of England v Ireland on Saturday 12 March (4.45pm) on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.

Also, see live URC action this week with Benetton v Leinster (Saturday 5 March, 12.30pm) live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.