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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018

'Cian is old enough and mature enough to understand that it's part of the game'

The 28-year-old’s latest injury is hugely frustrating, but opens the door for Finlay Bealham.

CIAN HEALY HAS had a torrid time with injuries in recent years.

Cian Healy Healy was injured in Ireland's training session yesterday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

We can go as far back as the 2013 Lions tour and the serious ankle ligament damage that ended the loosehead’s chances of playing in the Test matches against Australia in this nasty run.

The Clontarf FC man bounced back from that, but September 2014 brought another severe injury, with Healy’s hamstring ripped clean off the bone. Last year, serious neck surgery left Healy initially struggling to make a comeback of any sort, before he battled into contention and featured at the 2015 World Cup.

There have been niggles and strains along the way too, with the latest of those ruling Healy out of tomorrow’s Six Nations clash with Italy.

“Cian Healy pulled up at training yesterday and went for a scan last night on his hamstring,” said Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby at the Aviva Stadium today.

He’s got a mild hamstring strain and unfortunately we felt we weren’t prepared to risk that, given Cian’s history with that injury, in that his hamstring has been affected before. He has been withdrawn from the game.”

Easterby insisted that this was a “minor” strain for Healy and that Ireland “wouldn’t make any commitment” in stating that the loosehead is a doubt for the final round meeting with Scotland too.

One can only imagine the sheer frustration for Healy, who had looked to be building form and fitness in recent weeks as he looks to work his way back to the wrecking-ball levels of impact he showed in younger years.

“No player likes to pick up niggles, and that’s kind of what it is,” said Easterby of Healy’s latest injury. “It’s something that he’s had to deal with over a number of years and sort of recent months as well.

“So, frustrating, but Cian is old enough and mature enough to understand that it’s part of the game. He has to get himself right and the most important thing is that we and he are happy and clear on the decision and the reasons for that decision.

Donncha Ryan, Cian Healy and Mike Ross Healy has had hamstring issues in the recent past. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s not to compromise next week or the week after that. It unfortunately compromises this week for him, but hopefully that doesn’t eat into the rest of the season.”

Healy’s disappointment is Finlay Bealham’s opportunity, with the Connacht prop taking the Leinster man’s place on the Ireland bench for the clash with Italy in Dublin tomorrow.

The 24-year-old Australia native, who also plays tighthead, would make his international debut if used as a replacement for starting loosehead Jack McGrath.

“He’s slotted in really well, he’s been involved with the squad from the very start,” said Easterby. “This is his first opportunity to get a taste of Test match rugby. He’s another product of Connacht going really well this year, in the Pro12 in particular and they’re still in the European quarter-finals.

He’s done really, he’s come in and impressed everyone. He’s done his hard work, got stuck into his job. Now he’s got an opportunity to show what can do at the highest level and I’m sure he’ll be well-equipped for that.”

Though there will be understandable happiness for Bealham in getting his opportunity, the likes of Munster man James Cronin and Connacht’s first-choice loosehead Denis Buckley might wonder if they should have been next in line behind Healy.

Cronin was part of Ireland’s Six Nations squad for the opening rounds with Healy absent, making an appearance off the bench against France, but Buckley has not been involved at all in Carton House and therefore never in contention for this weekend.

“I think there’s be a number of guys that might have come into mix, but Finlay has been with us throughout and there’s no reason why we would have changed that decision based on the timing of Cian’s injury,” said Easterby.

“It did happen late in week and that allowed us make that quick decision, Finlay was ready to go.” 

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Murray Kinsella

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