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'It was affecting me turning up the radio in the car... It was painful picking my kids up, changing nappies'

Mike Sherry makes his debut on The42 Rugby Weekly to give his assessment of where Munster stand under Johann van Graan, and reflect on his decision to retire at 31.

Former Munster and Ireland hooker Mike Sherry.
Former Munster and Ireland hooker Mike Sherry.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

ON THIS WEEK’S The42 Rugby Weekly, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey were joined by a podcast debutant as they kicked off a new four-part series wherein they take stock of each of the Irish provinces, assessing where each of them stands in relation to the other as well as each of their chances of mounting a challenge for silverware either this season or next.

The southern province were first out of the hat, and so for episode one of the lads’ report-card series, recently retired former Munster and Ireland hooker Mike Sherry was called upon to give his two cents on the setup he departed in 2019 after a decade in red, and the changes that have followed since.

Sherry, 31, provided all kinds of insight into the leadership of Peter O’Mahony and, while he maintains the 30-year-old may have another four or five years of rugby in him, he also had strong thoughts on who from the existing squad should succeed O’Mahony as Munster captain.

As well as gazing towards the future through the prism of Munster’s current crop of talented youngsters, Sherry also reflected on the recent past and his decision to hang up his boots last summer.

munsters-mike-sherry Sherry at the tail of a maul. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The Garryowen man — who has since gone on to coach his AIL club — represented his native province on 108 occasions, scoring 12 tries, and earned two caps for Ireland during their tour of North America in 2013.

Several serious injuries to his knee, both shoulders, and his back, however, along with accompanying surgeries, hampered his ascent at both provincial and international level.

And the residual effects began to take their toll on his personal life, too — a turn of events which eventually led to his decision to retire just a fortnight after his 31st birthday.

“Playing for Munster, being in the Munster changing room for training and matches, being in that environment was all I thought about from the age of about 10, really, when that whole Munster journey kicked off,” Sherry said. “So, leaving it was daunting, but I think it was definitely the right time for me.

“My body was screaming at me to stop. I’d had a lot of injuries and I was kind of a bit in denial during the last two years, maybe three years of my career, telling myself and coaches and anyone who would listen that I could get back to a level where I felt like I could contribute and maybe get back to international honours and all that kind of stuff.

“But in reality, I was in quite a bit of pain and when I sat down with my wife when I was out of contract with Munster, I could have hung around and maybe picked something up — interestingly, actually, once I decided to make the decision to retire, a couple of clubs came in and there was a possibility of injury cover — but my mind was set at that stage.

“I got a few jogs into my body over the summer and now I’m feeling a lot better, a lot happier, and it’s not affecting my day-to-day life which it was at one stage. I’m very happy with the decision.

It was affecting me turning up the radio in the car, that motion of putting my arm out and twisting the knobs and whatever else. It was painful sleeping, it was painful picking my kids up, changing nappies. Just sitting down on the couch, reaching for the remote… All of these kind of small, day-to-day things were painful, like.

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mike-sherry Sherry during a Munster training session. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“It was putting me in a bad mood,” Sherry added. “I was putting on a brave face in training but hounding the physios for treatment, basically, all day long, just so I could get through the day, get through the sessions.

And I’d come home then and I’d just have a complete energy zap, be in a bad mood, and it just wasn’t fair on my wife and my kids. I was doing it selfishly. Like I said, I was lying to myself, thinking that I could get back to a level where I could compete for international honours and get back in a starting position for Munster, but I really couldn’t.

“Look, I’ve had a bit of time to think about it over the summer and over the last couple of months. And it was affecting me physically and mentally. It was getting to me. I’m just much happier now that all those small little things aren’t [affected] in my day-to-day life. I don’t even think about changing the radio, changing the gearstick — I actually bought an automatic to get rid of that problem!”

You can listen to the full Munster report card featuring Sherry, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey wherever you get your podcasts, and at the following link:

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