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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 6 May 2021

'I wasn't happy with how my lungs were burning' - Healy motivated for Samoa

The 32-year-old loosehead is enjoying his time in Japan with Ireland.

MARIO KART IS all the rage in Ireland’s team room at this World Cup, with Joe Schmidt’s players getting intensively competitive when they’re switching off from training.

Cian Healy says he is “not much of a gamer” and hasn’t been joining in.

The 32-year-old has his own set of interests and Japan has already catered to one of them, with Healy and Peter O’Mahony having visited the renowned knife-maker Shigeki Tanaka in Miki City, close to last week’s team base in Kobe.

cian-healy Healy signs autographs after an Ireland training session in Kobe last week. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Healy himself is skilled in this department. He has a small knife-making workshop in his garden shed back home in Ireland, where he disappears for hours on end and loses himself in the process.

So when Hama, Ireland’s liaison officer in Japan, was able to organise a visit to the man Healy calls “Tanaka-san,” he jumped at the opportunity with fellow knife enthusiast O’Mahony.

“We got an opportunity to try it and see him work,” says Healy. “It’s a pretty big thing over here so it’s nice to do something which I enjoy and try it their way.

“It’s like the blacksmithing style, so it’s more of the original style of how it began.”

Healy says it “costs a pretty penny” to buy one of the power hammer machines Tanaka uses for his knife-making, meaning he is unlikely to upgrade similarly, but he did come away with his own knife to finish back in his workshop at home.

“I’ve made the shape of it and then with everything I have, I’ll be able to finish it off at home. I’ll have to send him a picture.”

All in all, Healy has been enjoying the tour of Japan with Ireland, embracing the culture and food as much as their busy schedule of training and recovery allows.

He has had frustrations on the pitch, however. After the strong start against Scotland, Ireland came out on the wrong end of a shock defeat to Japan and Healy was unhappy with his own fitness levels during that game.

cian-healy-tacked-by-luke-thompson Healy wasn't happy with his fitness against Japan. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s still burning with me a bit and I’ve kinda pushed myself through a good bit of extra work because I wasn’t happy with how I went there,” says the loosehead prop. 

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“I wasn’t happy with how my lungs were burning so I’ve had a few extra fitness sessions and the video work that I… you can only do so much on the pitch without wrecking yourself, so I’ve put a good bit into the analysis side of it going forward and it’s just something I don’t want to happen again. 

“In the past, a blip like that is something that’s sent us out of a competition, so I suppose in one way it’s lucky that it wasn’t a quarter-final that it showed up in and it’s an opportunity for us to push on and have a good performance this week, and then knock on again and keep going.”

Healy sat out Thursday’s 35-0 win over Russia but says the conditions were “disgusting” even watching on from the sideline as he was tasked with videoing Ireland’s scrums for analysis.

It’s one area in which Healy believes the best is yet to come from himself and Ireland at this World Cup. With Samoa lying in wait on Saturday in Ireland’s final pool game, Healy is keen to attack more at the set-piece.

There was a momentum-shifting scrum penalty against Ireland in that Japan defeat, though it did appear that the Japanese loosehead, Keita Inagaki, was driving in on the angle on that occasion.

“A tough call, but you get dealt them,” says Healy. “We didn’t really bounce back from it, but I think our scrum is going pretty well. We’re putting pressure on people, we’re probably scrummaging within ourselves a little bit.

rory-best-and-cian-healy Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We’re cautious of getting done for penalties. We do pride ourselves on that [discipline], but there’s room to let the shackles off a bit and go a bit harder because our training scrummaging sessions are horrible at times.

“You’re killing each other and there’s a lot of pressure and tension.

“Unlock that and have a go. At the same time, it’s finding the area of the park to do that. You don’t want to do that if you’re within kicking distance or anything like that so it’s just getting everyone on that page and start cracking into things with the scrum.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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