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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019

Sean Cronin bouncing back with renewed appetite after neck injury lay-off

“It puts things into perspective,” says the hooker after suffering two injuries since the birth of his twin boys.

Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

“I WAS NERVOUS coming off the bench against Bath the other day. A pre-season friendly, like!”

It’s been a year of shifting parameters and perspectives for Sean Cronin.

The half he played in Leinster’s Friday night win over Bath in Donnybrook was just his fifth time on the field in 2017.

Three games into a return from a hamstring injury, picked up in the cold of a January win over Zebre, a minor injury in the most majorly concerning area – his neck – shunted Cronin right back onto the sideline for a further four months.

“It was touch and go would I go on the Irish tour or not. The medical advice was just to take the pre-season to get myself right and come back for the start of the season,” Cronin said outside Leinster’s Clonskeagh training base today.

The hooker has turned 31 since picking up the knock through games against Connacht and Clermont, but there were more important factors than age giving him the maturity and level-headedness to take the medical advice by the letter.  Just before Christmas, Cronin’s wife Claire gave birth to twin boys. So boredom hasn’t exactly been an issue during this stint on the sidelines.

Seán Cronin Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It is,” the hooker agrees when asked if a neck injury is all the scarier as a father, but he was quickly able to hone in on the next job at hand: working on the foundations of his fitness, recuperating his neck muscles with out the wear and tear of intense matches week after week.

“It puts things into perspective. When I got the advice to take the summer off and get it right, the rehab was a big focus for me and I could see my strength scores coming up and up and up as the summer went on.

Look, my wife wasn’t giving out too much. She had me at home to help out.”

With a new Pro14 season on the horizon now, it’s time to get back to doing what he does best at weekends. Part of an assured crop of second half players that steered the team to a win on Friday night, Cronin is perhaps hungrier than ever to get back in to a competitive setting and make an impact. He’s watched on long enough.

“I got to watch the lads doing so well on the summer tour and the Lions going so well it gave me a real appetite to get back into the frame this season. I’m really looking forward to getting going again, getting back playing. It was the first time in my career, really, that I had back-to-back injuries and I was out for six months.

“It whets the appetite to get back stuck into it. I was nervous coming off the bench against Bath the other day. A pre-season friendly, like! I just wanted to get that 40 under my belt and do well.”

“I was just a bit sore getting out of bed Saturday morning. I was delighted I took that advice… the neck is obviously a crucial thing to have firing on all cylinders in the front row.”

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Sean Farrell

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