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Thursday 30 March 2017

Ryan's early demise wide of mark

Lock could be back by March following bad hamstring tear

James Ryan
James Ryan

James Ryan is the jewel in the crown of Leinster's Academy and the closest thing to a racing certainty for Leinster and Ireland as those unbeaten thoroughbred champions Frankel and Black Caviar.

Of course, the comparisons with Paul O'Connell are premature.

But, they are understandable based on the simple evidence of the naked eye.

It was no coincidence Ireland made it to their first U20 World Cup final last June with Ryan at the helm.

The 6ft 8in second row has that rare combination of intelligence, athleticism, size, and work ethic.

There is a focus to his everyday working life that is at once unusual and uncommon.

In many ways, the only thing that can stop the rise of Ryan is the occurrence of a serious injury, one that would threaten his career.

Injury

Media reports that the former St Michael's man man suffered an avulsion to his hamstring are wide of the mark.

Ryan's ears were burned with calls and sympathetic words from friends and acquaintances about the sadness surrounding the possible end of his career before he wore even one Leinster or Ireland cap.

The burden of being the 'next big thing' hangs heavy enough on the shoulders of a 20-year-old without the weight of something that is untrue to add to the pressure.

The rumour mill had him crocked and finished, at least as far as reaching 100% of his potential was concerned.

An avulsion injury occurs when the hamstring muscle tendon completely tears away from the bone. It was what ended O'Connell's career.

For the record, Ryan suffered a Grade-3 hamstring tear, a serious injury, not even nearly a career-threatening one.

He was taking part in the Captain's Run in UCD on Thursday, November 11, the night before playing his former club Lansdowne in the All-Ireland League.

In what was a freak accident, his leg was fully extended, got caught in the ground and a tear happened as he moved forward.

A scan revealed a slight gap in the tendon and the decision was taken to have surgery at the Sports Surgey Clinic in Santry which took around 15 minutes.

The tendon was sutured together in what was a relatively new surgical method, more commonly used in England and Australia.

There are two benefits to this minor operation.

First, it speeds up recovery.

Second, it reduces the chance of a recurrence.

Initially, there was a strong chance the season would be written off given how valuable an asset Ryan will be and how Leinster are well-stocked in his position.

At the moment, Ryan is in the middle of a rehabilitation process that couldn't be going any better.

The latest update is that Ryan is using this time to build on his frame and he is on schedule to return ahead of the five-month estimation for recovery.

He could even be back playing again by March.

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