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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

'Twitter killed me' - Ireland's Healy ready to bounce back from Cardiff errors

We sat down with the loosehead prop as he gets set to pull on Ireland’s number one shirt again.

CIAN HEALY DUCKED away from Ireland camp on Tuesday afternoon for a trip down memory lane.

Cian Healy Healy is eager for tomorrow's clash in Edinburgh to roll around. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Along with Ian Keatley, he checked out of Carton House, forgot about the Six Nations for a few hours and relived his Belvedere College days as his alma mater took on Roscrea in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup final at the RDS.

The Belvo alumni had popped down to Great Denmark Street the evening before to drop a letter of good wishes into the school, although there was no speech or rallying cry from Healy as Phil Werahiko’s team prepared for their big day.

“I’m not good at that,” the prop told The42. Healy prefers actions to words.

The hour before the game was spent at The Bath Pub in Sandymount, where Healy and Keatley were reunited with their 2005 Senior Cup-winning teammates, including the likes of Paul O’Donohoe and Eoin O’Malley, as well as others who never went on to taste professional rugby.

UFC star Cathal Pendred couldn’t make it.

Healy says it’s “heart-breaking” to think a decade has passed since his Belvo team saw off a lauded Blackrock side that included Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan and Niall Morris.

One of the enduring memories of Belvedere’s 16-10 victory is Healy, a hooker then, trampling into and over the top of ‘Rock wing Vas Artemiev, an action typical of the player he was in those years.

Cian Healy of Belvedere is tackled Healy on the rampage in that 2005 final as Ian Madigan looks to hold on. Source: ©INPHO

The 27-year-old still attempts to be that same go-to carrier; the memory of his boshing of Richie McCaw in 2013 standing out more recently.

“I try to be! I’m a bit heavier now, so I can’t shift like I used to be able to. But I like that sort of game, carrying like that.”

Unfortunately for Healy, Belvedere lost out on St. Patrick’s Day to history-makers Roscrea, who the loosehead prop says deserved their win. Still, it was a brief chance to switch the mind off before the final weekend of the Six Nations and his biggest game in quite a while.

Healy is back in Ireland’s starting team for the first time since last year’s championship success, when he started and excelled in all five games under Joe Schmidt.

Ripping his hamstring clean from the bone in September means he’s at the very tail end of a long comeback trail.

I was [hesitant] the first few weeks back,” says Healy of trusting his hamstring again, having only returned from the injury during the current Six Nations.

“But I’ve been put into positions that stressed it a lot and I’ve stretched the hamstring to a similar degree when I did it [injured it], so when I bounce back out of that, I get full confidence to be able to forget about it.”

The initial weeks spent on the couch at home as he recovered from surgery weren’t wasted by the ever-professional Healy. He’s a man who possesses the ability to fully switch off, but he used some of the free hours to study his profession in close detail.

Cian Healy and Paul O'Connell Healy has had to bide his time in this championship but gets his start tomorrow. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

In times past, Healy has indicated that he is different to someone like loosehead rival Jack McGrath, who spends hours in front of game tape. The Clontarf FC man wasn’t always into such things.

“That’s changed,” admits Healy. “In my time injured, one of the only things I could do was to start to watch more rugby and try to learn a bit more about it. I put a lot more time into that.

“I wouldn’t be one to sit in the team room at the computers and go over stuff; I’d rather take it away up to my own room and look at it. It’s bit more of my own thing.”

Healy has been restricted to the bench in the most recent three games of this Six Nations, playing 18 minutes against France, 22 versus England and racking up 24 in last weekend’s defeat to Wales.

I wouldn’t have expected to be launched right back into it with how well Jack’s been going,” says Healy.

“That’s been part of the battle for me, getting myself up to scratch in plays and stuff to be in a position to start. Him being in there, he had such good clarity of all the moves and it was on me to get to that level as well.”

Having served his time as a replacement, Healy takes back the number one shirt from McGrath tomorrow in Edinburgh, pleased to be preparing for what will likely be a longer stint on the pitch.

Playing off the bench allowed Healy to bring his dynamism into the game against tired bodies, but it’s no easy job.

Cian Healy tackled by Aaron Jarvis Healy says Twitter killed him after his two errors in Cardiff. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I saw that last week, made two mistakes and I was killed over it!” smiles Healy. “They say ‘fit in first’ and then do what you can, but it’s very tough. You don’t really have a fit-in process when you’re on the bench, you’re jumping into fairly full-speed rugby.

“You’re not playing catch-up, but you’re in at a different level to others. So I suppose you’re fresh for many things, but the fluidity of the game is probably harder to get to.”

Was it Joe who ‘killed’ you for the knock-on and penalty concession at the Millennium Stadium during the latest of his famous Monday morning video sessions?

No he didn’t kill me, everyone else did. Twitter killed me, Joe was alright.”

McGrath will rightfully consider himself greatly unfortunate to miss out on the XV this week, having performed so well at loosehead since the November Tests and a wonderful display against South Africa.

This, however, is the reality of Test rugby and Ireland are bringing a 50-cap prop into their team.

Healy says he briefly acknowledged the passing of the loosehead baton from McGrath to himself, but the pair didn’t sit down to work through their feelings and discuss the matter.

“We shake hands and that’s it.”

Again with Healy, it’s all about his actions and that means firmly justifying Schmidt’s decision at Murrayfield tomorrow.

Cian Healy Healy is primed to make an impact in Scotland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland’s front rows “killed each other in scrums in training all week,” explains Healy, and the memory of him annihilating Aaron Jarvis in the last scrum against Wales bodes well ahead of his battle with Euan Murray this time around.

Healy feels fully ready to start hitting his peak again.

“A lot of trust has been put in me to start, but I’ve got the faith that I can go hard out and completely empty the tank.

“Whenever Jack is ready to come on, he’s going to be doing the exact same thing. It’s working as a team on that side of the scrum and I think it’s gone pretty well for us over the last few years.”

This article was updated at 10.55 to remove the erroneously used word ‘some’ from the 11th paragraph.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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