Sunday 23 October 2016

Loose-head prop Healy ready and raging to play for Ireland

Cian Healy
Cian Healy

Team Manager Mick Kearney has been able to confirm that 'The Raging Bull' Cian Healy is ready to be let off the leash against Canada on Saturday.

"Cian had a few dark days over the course of the summer. But, towards the end of August, he made fantastic progress," said Kearney.

"He has been in full training for the last two weeks. He is available for selection."

This makes official the noise out of camp Ireland that Healy would be able to put his formidable shoulders to the wheel for his country.

It would make sense for Healy to play against the Canadians.

Even an athlete of his dedication needs game time to sharpen his ball skills, fine-tune his instincts and become reacquainted with the physical nature of international rugby.

"Over the last twelve month, between a couple of operations, he was out of action for a very long time," said Kearney.

"He worked incredibly hard over three or four months. There was a degree of pessimism about him for a while.

"But, certainly towards the end of August, that all turned good and he's been flying since then."

Kearney's news on the other outstanding injury cases could not have been better.

Scrum-half Conor Murray completed his return-to-play protocols and Rob Kearney recovered from a knee niggle for both to train fully yesterday.

He gave as good as a guarantee Joe Schmidt will give game time to all 31 players in Ireland's squad at the RWC.

"The team hasn't been picked yet for Canada, but to bring a 31-man squad and not give them an opportunity in the pool stages wouldn't be the best thing for the squad," he offered.

"If you look back to 2007 there were a number of players who didn't play in the pool stages and didn't play at all.

"That leads to a certain amount of discord maybe among the group.

"It is important to use the squad during the group stages. But, ultimately that is down to the coaches to make that decision."

The nervousness about starting out on their World Cup odyssey will be diminished by the venue.

"There are advantages in that Ireland are playing in The Millennium Stadium," he said.

"We have played there with the closed roof during the summer series and will have an advantage playing Canada under a closed roof as well.

"We're very familiar with the whole environment. Players are very familiar with it.

"I think there has been a significant degree of success that a lot of players have enjoyed whether it is Leinster in the Heineken Cup - Paul O'Connell obviously won a couple of Heineken Cup medals there as well - and we won the Grand Slam there in 2009.

"We have a lot of happy memories from Cardiff and we're very comfortable in and around there."

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