Massive boost for Ireland's World Cup hopes as Cian Healy finally passed fit
Ireland have received a significant World Cup boost with prop Cian Healy passed fit to start after neck surgery.
Loosehead prop Healy has battled neck problems since May, but has recovered just in time and will be available for Saturday's Pool D opener against Canada.
Scrum-half Conor Murray has been passed fit after concussion, with Rob Kearney also over knee niggles for the Cardiff clash with Canada.
Ireland team manager Mick Kearney admitted Healy endured "a degree of pessimism" earlier in the summer, fearing he would miss the World Cup, before grafting his way back to fitness.
"The 31-man squad are all fit and available for selection against Canada for Saturday," said Ireland team co-ordinator Kearney.
"Cian's great, obviously Cian had a few dark days across the summer but towards the end of August he made fantastic progress.
"He's been in full training for the last two weeks and I'm delighted to report that he is available for selection at the weekend against Canada.
"I think the fact that he is available and is fit I think it's a huge boost to everyone in the squad and a huge boost to Cian as well.
"I think everyone is thrilled for him, because over the last 12 months between a couple of injuries and operations he's been out of action for a very long time.
"He worked incredibly hard over the course of the three or four months.
"I suppose 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 really flying and in great form since then.
"And I think it would be great to see him get some game-time at the weekend."
Johnny Sexton and Simon Zebo suffered cramp in Ireland's 21-13 defeat to England at Twickenham on September 5 but recovered without any issues.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt's decision to include Healy in his final World Cup 31 has now been vindicated, even though the Leinster prop was not fully fit when selected.
Healy's presence will provide a clear advantage for Ireland in their target of reaching a first-ever World Cup semi-final.
Hooker Rory Best hailed 27-year-old Healy's return as handing boss Schmidt's squad a sizeable lift, off the back of consecutive warm-up defeats to Wales and England.
"He's a world-class player and he's made an unbelievable recovery," said Best.
"But we know that about him, he has a tendency to come back really quickly and just to have that capability within your squad.
"We're very lucky to have Jack McGrath and Cian who are both fantastic looseheads, and you saw Jack really coming to the fore in the last Six Nations.
"That's put pressure on Cian and you can see the way he's responded, and the way he's come back this summer, he's hungrier than ever to come back in and to try to get that starting spot back.
"And he will be desperate to establish himself again as the world-class player that he is."