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'My dad was thinking of sneaking in, I had to tell him not to do it'

Dan Leavy said his knee ‘felt perfect’ as he completed his long-awaited comeback for Leinster.

Dan Leavy made his return for Leinster against Zebre on Friday.
Dan Leavy made his return for Leinster against Zebre on Friday.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IT WAS AN up-and-down road back for Dan Leavy but Irish rugby was united in welcoming his successful return to action on Friday night as the Leinster flanker played nearly 30 minutes of his side’s win over Zebre.

The second-half appearance brought to an end a spell of over 18 months on the sidelines after a complex knee injury and Leavy was clearly delighted in the aftermath of Leinster’s big victory, which nearly ended with him scoring a try.

“I haven’t even checked my phone but I am sure it has blown up with a lot of messages and stuff,” Leavy told Leinster Rugby.

“It would have been nice to have friends and family here. My dad was thinking of sneaking in; I had to tell him not to do it because we would get in a lot of trouble. It has been great anyway. The team is so close-knit, we are all such good mates, it is good to have my good pals beside me.

“It was a really long and bumpy ride from the get-go. I was lucky to have the support that I did right from Leo [Cullen], Stu [Lancaster] to the medical staff, my physio Karl [Denver], who have been tireless. The whole journey has been incredible.

“My surgeon Andy Williams over in the UK and everyone, my girlfriend Aoife, my family all my friends just made it a bearable journey. To get back here and get such a good team win was awesome.”

Leavy’s team-mates are thrilled to have him back and will have been happy to hear the 26-year-old report that “the knee felt perfect” as he got through a shift that included four carries, a tackle, and a key pass in the build-up to Tommy O’Brien’s second try.

Leinster boss Leo Cullen admitted there had been some anxiousness on his part, just hoping to see Leavy come through unscathed even after they had been ultra-diligent in making sure he was fully ready and not “going into the game cold.”

ciaran-parker-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-ciaran-frawley-and-dan-leavy Leinster celebrate one of their nine tries. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

As the unfortunate Max Deegan now begins his long-term recovery from a recent knee injury, Leavy will look to step things up out on the pitch over the coming weeks and months.

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“Now it’s about trying to keep some consistency in terms of the training week as well,” said Cullen. “We are in a fortunate position that we have quite a long lead into the next game.

“Overall, we are pleased that Dan got 30 minutes and we tried to plan it like that.”

After their nine-try success over Zebre, Leinster now switch attention to their first Monday night Pro14 fixture away to Glasgow next week.

Among those who will be out to impress again is hooker Dan Sheehan, who scored two tries in a promising debut against Zebre.

“It has been a competitive spot and he gets stuck in there at the third or fourth slot, whatever you want to call it,” said Cullen.

“There are three senior international hookers and then we had Bryan Byrne up until before lockdown.

“It was a good challenge for Dan coming in there. I thought he acquitted himself well. It’s a positive step forward for him.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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