This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 21 November, 2018
Advertisement

Mixed feelings for Connacht's Healy after Ireland debut in defeat to Boks

The 27-year-old was delighted to make his Test rugby bow in Port Elizabeth.

AS IT HAPPENED, Matt Healy’s Ireland debut came in a manner he found to be less stressful than expected.

Of course there was concern for his injured Connacht team-mate Tiernan O’Halloran, but the sudden nature of Ireland’s need for an early HIA replacement on Saturday meant Healy was pitched into the Test arena without too much time to think.

Matt Healy Healy did well on his Ireland debut. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

He didn’t have to sit on the bench for 60 minutes nervously, instead bursting into the fray as a temporary replacement for O’Halloran, making a good tackle on Ruan Combrinck in his first direct involvement.

Healy took his place on the bench again after O’Halloran passed his HIA but permanently entered the contest at half time as the fullback pulled up with a rib injury.

“I suppose it was probably the exact situation I would’ve liked to have been put on,” says Healy of his introduction.

I didn’t get much time to think about it, I was just thrown in. It was so unfortunate for Tiernan to be taken off, especially in that manner. That was brutal enough stuff and I was delighted to see him come back on.

“For the second half, I was thrown on there and I felt all right, I felt comfortable. I’ve had a good couple of weeks training now with the lads and especially this week getting more run-ins knowing that I was going to be involved. So yeah, nervous in the week leading up to it but I felt pretty comfortable out there.”

Healy said he had “mixed feelings” after his debut; delight to finally earn international recognition but the same dejection as the rest of the Ireland squad at the failure to clinch a series on South African soil.

The 27-year-old points to the now retired Eoin Reddan as having been “a massive help” in the build up to his first game with Ireland, while Connacht team-mates Ultan Dillane and Finlay Bealham let him know what was ahead.

Matt Healy Healy has learned from the SA tour. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Healy was first involved with Ireland during the Six Nations, training with Joe Schmidt’s squad before the clash with Scotland. His fellow wings – direct competitors – have been aiding his learning curve.

“I came into the squad in Dublin and there’s so much to learn,” says Healy. “Luckily enough, I had some top guys in Andrew Trimble and Keith Earls and the boys were massively helpful.

“I hated for the last two or three weeks being that annoying little guy in the corner constantly asking silly questions but they were massively helpful.

There’s a lot of homework to do but I got over that initial period and learnt my stuff and thankfully I was given my chance this weekend, which I was delighted about.”

Healy travelled back to Ireland yesterday with his two Ireland jerseys – each player receives two per game – safely tucked away in his bag, while a “nice touch” from Ian Madigan provided him with a third.

“I kept two and Ian Madigan was good enough to swap one of his jerseys for me, so I got the number 23 jersey of South Africa, which was [Lawazi] Mvovo. So I’ve got my own two and the South African 23.”

Healy, like the rest of the Ireland squad, is excited for four weeks of holidays now. However, he is already thinking about adding to the first Ireland cap, keen to continue to grow the consistency that Schmidt has demanded of him.

“I’ve been warned now not to be stuck in that one-cap club, so again it’s something to work on but hopefully a lot more to come,” says Healy.

Eoin McKeon and Matt Healy Healy will be part of Connacht's Pro12 title defence next season. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“[Consistency] is something I’ve been working on since day one and Joe has been in constant contact with me all through the season, and what he’s looking for from me – consistency.

“And again I have to say I’ve learned so much from the likes of Andrew Trimble and Keith Earls in the last three Tests. They have shown unbelievable consistency and unbelievable hunger, and their work-rate is something that I just didn’t understand before clearly.

“So there’s some things that I’ll take forward and try and work on myself, and hopefully it leads to a couple of more caps.”

The42 is on Snapchat! Tap the button below on your phone to add!

Olympic dream dead for Ireland 7s as Russia win semi-final in Dublin

Analysis: Ireland leave their best try-scoring chance untaken in Port Elizabeth

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

The42 Team

Read next:

COMMENTS (21)