Ireland prop Cian Healy. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Healy plans to play on with Leinster and Ireland after the World Cup

‘I’ve trained with people in the past who were more energy vampires than energy givers.’

CIAN HEALY IS heading into his fourth World Cup with Ireland but this won’t be the end of his international career. Not if he has anything to do with it.

The 35-year-old has confirmed that he will be playing on with Leinster next season. Healy signed a deal with the province last year – coming off a central IRFU contract – but its duration wasn’t officially announced.

The man himself has now confirmed that he will continue to play for Leinster in 2023/24 and he’s not thinking about international retirement either.

“Ideally so, yeah,” said Healy when asked if he plans to play with Ireland beyond this World Cup.

He feels he’s physically and mentally in a good place, so doesn’t believe there’s any need to finish up yet.

“The body’s holding up well,” said Healy. “The odd Sunday it would be sore now but holding up alright.”

He’s already the joint third-most capped Ireland player of all time, having joined Rory Best on 124 caps last weekend when he came off the bench against Italy. 

Ronan O’Gara is only four ahead on 128, then record holder Brian O’Driscoll is on 133. It’s not that far off, although Healy insists he’s not one for counting caps. Someone had to tell him that he was drawing level with Best last weekend.

Healy has a “little wall” hidden away in his house with medals and memories adorning it. It’s nice to walk past but he doesn’t spend time poring over what he’s done. There’s more to do.

“I’ll look back at the end and rate my career and medals and silverware and that’s how I will hold that,” said Healy.

“It’s nice to have been in for that long and had that many opportunities in green.

“I actually love pulling the jersey on so every time, 1st, 100th or whatever, I’ve enjoyed every one of them.”

cian-healy-celebrates-after-scoringh-his-teams-fourth-try Healy scored as he won his 124th cap. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

All of his energy is going into putting himself in the best position to help Ireland achieve history at this World Cup in France. 

That best position is loosehead prop, although he has played at tighthead for Leinster on occasion in recent years and even scrummaged at hooker for Ireland in this year’s Six Nations when they suffered an in-game injury crisis against Scotland.

“I’m focused on being a very good loosehead at the moment,” said Healy. “That’s my main role so I’m not going too far away from it.

“I dipped a toe in the others, I haven’t scrummed on the other side at tighthead or hooker yet this pre-season.

“I’m pretty comfortable jumping in at tighthead at the drop of a hat, so it’s alright.

“Hooker, I got a few pointers about after the last opportunity I had.

“I throw a few balls with Josh [van der Flier, who threw into the lineout against Scotland] messing around to hone in if it’s needed.

“It’s not a huge focus, but happy enough with my ability to step in.”

Every time we speak to one of the other Irish front row players, Healy’s name seems to come up. While he still clearly adds value himself as a player, his role as a mentor to others is something he has embraced in recent years.

He’s not one to lead team meetings, but he enjoys working with the other props and hookers in a one-on-one setting.

cian-healy Healy training in Portugal this week. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“If I have a feeling about something someone’s doing in a scrum that’s good or bad that can be worked on, I’ll probably pull them aside and have a chat and get on the tape and figure it out with them and figure out how they’re feeling,” he said.

Experience on the tighthead side in recent years has proven beneficial to Healy’s appreciation for what he needs to be doing in his primary position.

“Having been on the other side, I have got a bit more of an understanding of what looseheads actually do, how it feels when you do something. Because I never knew when I’d do something and it works and tighthead doesn’t go well.

“I never knew how it felt until I went against Ports [Andrew Porter] really, Ports and Ed Byrne. Ed scrummages kinda similar to me and he nearly took the neck off me. It’s good to have that bit of experience to be able to chat to them and maybe have an opinion that can further them.”

As he ramps up for this fourth World Cup, Healy said doesn’t spend time thinking about how close he was to calling time on his career before the 2015 tournament when he had actually signed the retirement papers as he struggled in the aftermath of a neck injury.

“I had an issue a while back because I got a more minor knock, a similar nerve thing, and I went straight into panic mode. It was obviously because I hadn’t debriefed the previous one.

“But no, I put it in the rearview mirror and the decision to make then is do you finish or can you give more? Can you be a positive influence on something? I decided to try be a positive influence and bring the best version of yourself to a group, and that’s what I always try to do.

“I’ve trained with people in the past who were more energy vampires than energy givers. It has all been looking forward for me since then.”

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