herald

Monday 24 April 2017

Healy has to put his hand up

Leinster prop looking to channel his aggression

Cian Healy
Cian Healy
Jack Conan

Cian Healy wants his old shirts so badly that he has been trying too hard to get them back.

The questions hang there: has the game or Healy's body caught up with him? Will he ever get back to being what he was?

"I'm just trying to take every opportunity that's been given," he said.

"I think the Munster game a while back, I performed poorly on the discipline front and that was itching away at me a bit.

"You can't afford to do that when you're given the opportunities.

"Apart from that, it's been edging away in the right direction I think."

It is possible to want something too much.

It can lead to throwing an offload when it isn't on or reaching for ruck ball when it is a lost and illegal cause.

"I'm just trying to take every opportunity that's been given," he said.

"I think the Munster game a while back, I performed poorly on the discipline front and that was itching away at me a bit.

"You can't afford to do that when you're given the opportunities.

"Apart from that, it's been edging away in the right direction I think."

The super-consistency of Jack McGrath has not allowed Healy to play his way back to full impact.

The big game roles have generally been cameo in nature.

Understandable

It was understandable that Healy can get caught between doing his job and doing too much.

Aggression channelled in the wrong way can lead anyone into the land of mishaps and mistakes.

"I was fairly high strung going into that game," he said.

"I gave away a silly sort of penalties. I think it is trying to push a bit too far, and not really playing naturally.

"I'll try and do that (play naturally) and be as relaxed as possible."

This is not a given for a man whose whole reputation is built on being explosive and confrontational.

There is no better place than deep in the South of France to send a message out to Leo Cullen, Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland.

This is the sort of hostile environment in which Healy can thrive.

Afterall, Castres at Stade Pierre Antoine is a totally different proposition to what appeared at The RDS in round one.

"It's like they have a different level of energy to go to," he said.

"We've worked on getting fit and being able to keep up with the pace of game and setting the pace of games.

"We're simply looking to take what we've done in training and bring it over there. And in the pack, fight the fire there.

"Getting the upper hand on the pack is something that is pretty important for us.

"We'll try and take the steam out of what they're trying to achieve."

It will all start in the front five where Ross Molony has edged out Mike McCarthy to replace the suspended Hayden Triggs.

The loss of the New Zealander should not be under-estimated for his attention to the details of the game.

Despite this, Molony is blessed with a quick-thinking brain, leadership skills and the athleticism of a modern second row.

The loss of Sean O'Brien to a calf strain is compensated by the growth in the game of Jack Conan, who will fit nicely into a back row with Josh van der Flier and Jamie Heaslip.

Richardt Strauss has been impressive in his return to action.

The importance of his experience from previous seasons may have been the vital ingredient that prompted James Tracy's drop to the bench.

Outside of that, Leo Cullen has shown his commitment to rewarding form by omitting Rob Kearney, making his way back to full-steam, to stay with wings Adam Byrne and Rory O'Loughlin.

The capacity for Castres to completely shred the formbook is real.

Leinster must tread heavily.

Castres: P Berard; J Caminati, A Taumoepeau, F Vialelle, D Smith; J Dumora, A Dupont; A Tichit, B Mach, D Kotze, V Moreaux, R Capo-Ortega (capt), Y Caballero, A Bias, S Mafi.

Leinster: I Nacewa (capt); A Byrne, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, R O'Loughlin; J Sexton, L McGrath; C Healy, R Strauss, T Furlong, R Molony, D Toner, J Conan, J van der Flier, J Heaslip.

Verdict: Leinster.

Castres v Leinster (Tonight 7.45 live Sky Sports 2)

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