herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

future is now for ryan

You couldn't blame Dominic Ryan for feeling aggrieved at how injury has taken him away from the game.

"The real issue was two seasons in a row I had syndesmosis on each ankle. It should have been operated on both times, but it wasn't," he said.

"It took me 14 weeks to come back as opposed to the lads who come back after six or eight.

"An extra few weeks is huge in this industry. So being out for six weeks longer in successive seasons really put me on the back foot".

Ryan had moved from 'the next big thing' to a candidate for moving away from Leinster in the space of four seasons.

The shoulder operation to Jordi Murphy, the reported minor ankle problem to Sean O'Brien, the strained knee ligament of Dan Leavy and the IRFU's Player Welfare Programme has provided three opportunities.

EMBRACED

Ryan has embraced them with open arms. This hack had penciled him in as his Man of the Match at The Sportsground last Friday night until Kieron Marmion turned the game on its' head.

"In terms of filling in for people, I don't see myself as that player. I see myself as a starter," he said, frankly.

"I never had any doubt that if I stayed injury-free that I was going to be in contention for a starting-place in the team. I firmly believe that myself".

The physical presence on the floor and the eye-wincing hitting of Ryan were the standout factors in Leinster's move to a 9-0 lead in Connacht as he put 65 minutes on top of successive 80s against Glasgow and The Scarlets.

The intelligent Commerce graduate also has a thoughtful take on the value of confidence and how not playing can impact on it.

MENTAL SIDE

"It's actually something you can work on when you're injured, that mental side of things," he said.

"Confidence comes from playing though, so it is tough. I don't necessarily lose confidence. It's more of a case of not getting any by not playing.

"So much of your game, especially in my position in the back-row, comes from actual match practice, being instinctive and being in the moment.

"It's all about playing. Training is important, gym is important but at the end of the day it's all about performance. We're professional athletes and we just want to perform on the pitch.

"I know what I'm capable of doing once I'm fit. That's up there with any of the other players in the country in my position.

"It's frustrating seeing lads in your position getting ahead of you when you're injured, knowing that it would have been you if only for fitness. That's the motivation for me. I know what I'm capable of when I'm playing".

And he's playing better than ever.

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