Friday 28 October 2016

Cian Healy will be given all the time he needs to make World Cup squad

Prop's heroic powers of recovery are crucial in countdown to World Cup

Irish prop Cian Healy
Irish prop Cian Healy

Cian Healy is a special player for whom you make special plans.

There are not that many loose-head props in world rugby you can say that about.

His fitness to practice and play for Ireland at the World Cup cannot be overstated.

Ireland have two guaranteed go-forward carriers in Seán O'Brien and Cian Healy.

You could add Iain Henderson to that shortest of lists should the Ulsterman unseat Peter O'Mahony for the number six jersey.

The speculation over Healy's stalled rehabilitation from neck surgery in May was stymied by his appearance at training on Wednesday and, more significantly, by tight-head Mike Ross's assertion that he was "hopeful" about his fellow front rower as Healy had been scrummaging on Tuesday.

The release of tension was palpable for Ireland will have to overcome issues of size, power and depth of quality to make it to a first ever World Cup semi-final. For this to happen, there are special players that must be in place when the heat comes on.

Jonathan Sexton, Paul O'Connell, Jamie Heaslip and O'Brien are three.

Healy is another.

While Jack McGrath is an able deputy with enough international experience, the other Leinster loose-head does not have the explosive, athletic power to dynamite defences.


Munster's valuable Dave Kilcoyne would move into the back-up role as a loose-head more similar in style to Healy.

However, it is informative to examine Healy's recent history of setbacks and how he has exceeded medical expectation.

The 27 year-old has been dogged by injuries, like the ankle operation for syndesmosis in December 2013.

The medical guesstimate for his recovery was eight weeks. He was back in four.

Last September, Healy completely tore the hamstring off his bone in an innocuous change of direction manoeuvre at a Leinster training session.

The damage required an operation in what was estimated to be a five-month break from the game.

He was back in just over four.

Back on April 30, Healy was given an injection into his neck in order that a clearer picture would emerge as to what exactly he was dealing with when he found himself unable to hold a pen such was the degree of numbness in his hand.

Seven days later, the condition was diagnosed and deemed serious enough to warrant his 'next day' appointment for surgery on Friday May 8.

By all accounts, the surgeon was pleasantly surprised at what he found and 12 weeks of rehabilitation was ordered.

He was not condemned to the six months given to Dan Cole or the five to Joe Launchbury when the England internationals experienced similar symptoms from bulging discs in their necks last season.

The point is the man has a super-human history of surpassing medical opinion.

Only time will tell whether he can do it once again.

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