Heineken Cup: Healy too smart to let opposition sway his focus
Cian Healy has become such a fixture with Leinster and Ireland over the past couple of seasons that you have to remind yourself that he is still only 24.
In propping terms, that is the equivalent of adolescence for a position where players tend to peak in their late 20s and early 30s, but with 25 caps to his name and considered a shoo-in for the 2013 Lions tour, Healy is the definition of an early developer.
His rapid progress has made him a target for opponents, something Healy says he is becoming increasingly aware of as he prepares for this weekend's Heineken Cup trip to Glasgow.
“I notice people having a pull off me, but it's grand, you get on with it,” said Healy. “You give them an old push back the odd time. Joe (Leinster coach Schmidt) gives me a bit of a freaker for that, so I'll have to leave that out now.
“But it's part of it. Some people think they can target someone, get a rise out of them and take them off their game.
“It means you're causing them a bit of hassle if they feel the need to focus on you. If I'm not focusing on them and they're focusing on me, then I've already got the upper hand.”
The champions have employed a home and away selection policy in Europe over the past two seasons with Healy and Heinke van der Merwe rotating the No. 1 jersey. While he admits to being frustrated initially, Healy says he now welcomes the competition.
“It's nice and healthy,” said Healy. “When I was a little less mature, I was, like: 'This is annoying, someone else is good here,' but now I'm starting to notice that it's helping my game, because I'm pushing myself more than I thought I had to.
“I'm starting to notice in scrummaging that I'm working on new things and I'm trying to bring out more and more. In training, I'm running around more because I want to be doing more things.
“Myself, Jack (McGrath) and himself (van der Merwe) have been pushing each other really hard this season”
Although Glasgow were easily disposed of at the RDS, Leinster are expecting a stern challenge on Sunday, not least in the scrum.
Healy is ready for the test and says he is in excellent condition heading over to Scotland.
“Glasgow always have a pretty strong scrum. It's one of those things where we've got to focus on ourselves,” said Healy. “I've had a few bumps and bruises this season, but I am in great nick now.”