Dan Sheridan/INPHO Johnny Sexton and Dave Kilcoyne after Ireland's win in Cardiff.
# fail to prepare...
'On the way out of the elevator Paulie just said: 'You ready, kid?''
Ireland prop Dave Kilcoyne on his late call up in Cardiff and recovering from “the worst injury I’ve ever had.”

IT’S BEEN A long, challenging, and sometimes anxious journey back to the Ireland squad for Dave Kilcoyne.

This time last year the Ireland and Munster prop was tipping along nicely, racking up a handful of caps off the bench in the Six Nations. Then a setback: in the round five defeat of Scotland, Kilcoyne suffered a neck injury which required a trip to surgery.

As a result the experienced loosehead missed Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand. He returned to action with Munster at the start of the season but didn’t make the Test squad for the November internationals, instead joining the Ireland A group that took on a New Zealand XV as he continued to build his way back to full fitness.

It all meant that he played no part in the historic series win against the All Blacks, or the memorable home victories against the Springboks and Wallabies.

“I had to get two discs shaved in my neck,” Kilcoyne explains. “You’re out for a considerable time, you’re looking on and seeing what the team is building, what Faz had built…

dave-kilcoyne Morgan Treacy / INPHO Dave Kilcoyne speaking to the media in Abbotstown today. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“I was chatting to Pete (O’Mahony) the other day at dinner, everyone talks about how good an environment it is here, and it’s not rubbish. It actually is a real enjoyable place to be, but that comes from the top down. Faz has got great people in, and it filters down to the players. It’s such a good place to come in and get better every day. I wasn’t involved, you’re watching on and desperate to get back in.

“Fortunately, I just put my head down, worked away, and got myself back in.

“I was hoping (to get back in), but I had massive belief in myself and that I would get back in if I could get back fit.” 

Kilcoyne, 34, elaborates on his time out, explaining why he views that neck issue as “the worst injury I’ve ever had.”  

I lost power down my hand through getting those disks shaved and it was unnerving at times, wondering would the power ever come back.

“It was a couple of months with the great S&C and rehab coaches down in Munster and it just wasn’t coming and wasn’t coming, then all of a sudden it came. Once I saw a bit of light, I went with it and built myself back up and worked away to try get back in. So I’m feeling very fortunate to be in here. 

“The saying, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, that really resonates with me now. You’re out of the environment through injury or selection or whatever, then when you get the second crack at it to get back in, you want to take it with both hands and make sure you’re in here as long as you can be.”

The opportunity he’s been waiting for arrived last Saturday morning as Ireland prepared for their Six Nations opener against Wales. Cian Healy was struggling with a hamstring injury so had to be pulled from the matchday squad. With Healy out, Kilcoyne was bumped up to the bench, coming on in the second half to win his 49th Test cap. 

It wasn’t until the morning of the game (that I found out), but Paulie (O’Connell), on the way out of the elevator just said: ‘You, ready kid?’, as he does. I prepared all week as if I was going to be involved, so I was just ready to go.”

With Healy ruled out again this week, Kilcoyne is set to keep his spot among the replacements for the visit of Fabien Galthié’s France.

The game is already being billed as a potential Grand Slam decider but Ireland are wary of looking too far down the line.

tom-otoole-and-dave-kilcoyne Dan Sheridan / INPHO Ireland prop Dave Kilcoyne in action against Wales. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland have yet to beat France under Andy Farrell and for Kilcoyne and his front-row colleagues, the scrum battle coming their way is one of the biggest tests in world rugby.

“Yeah, it’s a huge area. There’s no shying away from the French scrum. You look at the Top 14, you look at France, it’s what they base their game around so it’s going to be a big challenge for us but we’ll put all the steps in to be prepared for it.”

“I think the squad is in such a place now, it’s next man up,” he adds.

“You see it in training during the week, how competitive it is. We said in Portugal when we were training both teams against each other, you wouldn’t know which team was playing against Wales, which is a great headache for the coaches. It’s in a great spot.”

Get instant updates on your province on The42 app. With Laya Healthcare, official health and wellbeing partner to Leinster, Munster and Connacht Rugby.

Originally published at 19.30

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel