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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

Coffee and sumo wrestling help Healy's World Cup preparations

The prop starts against Scotland on Sunday.

Updated Sep 20th 2019, 9:32 PM

CIAN HEALY HAS had an important role off the pitch during Ireland’s World Cup preparations in Japan, having been entrusted with running the coffee machine in the team hotels. 

While some of Joe Schmidt’s squad have been treated with shipments of Barry’s Tea during their time in Chiba and Yokohama, 2,500 cups worth of coffee — and a machine — was sent over to Japan by Colin Harmon, owner of 3fe coffee in Dublin.

cian-healy Healy at the team hotel in Yokohama. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

As a man of many talents, Healy has taken on the role of team barista as Ireland gear up for Sunday’s Pool A opener against Scotland.

“It has certainly been of use,” the prop said of the shipment, before adding that he is carefully rationing the supply of 50kgs worth of coffee beans to ensure it lasts the duration of the tournament.

Having been on the tour to Japan in 2017, none of this is new for Healy and he fell in love with sumo wrestling two summers ago, meaning last week’s trip to Tokyo’s Isegahama stable was a nice treat.

After meeting the squad, champion wrestler Terunofuji Haruo has been in touch with some of the players on social media ahead of Sunday’s showdown in Yokohama, and Healy acknowledges the importance of having external distractions during such a long tour.

“That was class,” he says of the sumo wrestling experience. “I did that as well on the tour in 2017. When it became an option this time I was urging the lads to go, saying how good it was — culturally it was one of the best things I did last time. It was about getting an understanding of it — that they’re not just big lumps. The amount of training that they put in, their flexibility, strength, power, everything.

“If it’s a short period you can knuckle down, stay in the hotel and keep activities to a minimum but over six or seven weeks that’s just not sustainable.

“It’s important to have things that we can get out to and do, but don’t spend too much time on our feet. It’s about using your time off wisely in a way that’s going to benefit you. The real thing about a down day is that it’s a day off to recover and train the next day.”

But now after a 10-day lead-in period, the serious business finally starts for Ireland, with Healy set to win his 92nd cap against the Scots on Sunday.

cian-healy The prop speaking at Friday's press conference. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Leinster loosehead, appearing in his third World Cup, will go head-to-head with WP Nel at scrum time in what could be a key battle in the Pool A showdown.

“They’re a pretty strong scrum,” Healy explains. “They’ve been getting better and better over the last couple years and much more of a threat. Nel is going pretty well at the moment. He’s a bit of a cornerstone for them so we’ll be dealing with a lot of his tactical scrummaging — the angles and what you might be looking for.

“We’ve simulated a little bit of that, to plan for it. But you can never really plan so we’ll stick at our own schedule for a lot of it and work on what we want to assert on them, as opposed to trying to defuse their bombs.”

The 33-year-old adds: “Joe said the other day about it becoming very real. When the first team started getting named, that burned with me a bit; ‘okay, we’re ready to go now.’

“We’ve put a lot of work and a lot of dedication and clarity on everything, getting ourselves into physical shape and stuff. So now we have a chance to put that on show.” 

- First published today, 18.10

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Ryan Bailey

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