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Fired-up Healy has gone the extra mile

Cian up to speed after a big effort on and off the field

By Cain Tracey

After a week spent in the serene surroundings of St George's Park, the Ireland squad have rejoined the World Cup party in London for tomorrow's clash against Romania.

It's been a rather quiet few days at the English FA's national football centre which is very much isolated, deep in the Staffordshire countryside.

In Joe Schmidt's eyes, it's exactly what the team needed. On the training paddock, the word is that the sessions have been intense while off it, the scrupulous analysis work has been as relentless as ever.

It was perhaps just as well that the squad were given Thursday off and the majority took the opportunity to break free of the four walls of the confined complex.

For Cian Healy, though, it was another chance to catch up on some of the things that he has missed out on over the last five months - 'studying'.

Having made his return from a neck injury in the win against Canada last week, Healy is desperate to get more game time under his belt in a bid to usurp Jack McGrath in the pecking order.

Healy came through his 20-minute cameo unscathed and the intensity of his training schedule was taken up a notch - as was his workload off it.

"I have to get all my lineouts and stuff sorted. Having been away from playing for so long, it's one of the things I have to have nailed on, so I'm spending all my extra time on the computers," he explained.

"I've had to pick up on it an awful lot more than I used to. It's become a place in my game over the last two seasons.

"A lot of it is the system that I'm used to. It's just triggers and all the stuff to get up to speed on and have my reaction speeds up.

"I've been writing a little bit of stuff in the diary and that's partly to train my hand, to train the smaller muscles, as I explained after the Canada game. Writing has been one of the things that helps. It's quite an easy way to train.

"I'm feeling pretty good. I've got a lot of running under my belt. There was a lot of heavy scrums in training and more running and that's the type of stuff I need to be doing as much as possible. I've promised to run myself into the ground at training."

Ireland are likely to face an understrength Romanian side in Wembley tomorrow but nevertheless, their opponents will target the scrum.

It's something that Schmidt and his coaching staff will be prepared for but it's not a prospect that they will fear in the slightest, especially given how much of a weapon Ireland's scrum has become in recent years.

"It has been like that for a while," Healy stressed.

"We have worked hard on it for a couple of years and everyone is clued in to what we want to achieve. It is something that we can use to our advantage.

"We work very hard on our system. We trust our system. We don't flog ourselves. We train for excellence in our set-up and stuff and when we get that we are happy with it."

The news that Kevin McLaughlin was forced to call time on his career due to concussion this week impacted the Irish players.

Lengthy injuries have meant that Healy himself has faced some dark days and McLaughlin's retirement is another stark reminder of the increased risk in the sport.

"I was gutted to hear that," the loosehead prop admitted.

"It's heart-breaking to see because he has been adding a lot. Kev is fairly strong-minded. He will be in a good place going forward.

"Solid is one word you can put on Kev. We call him the Chopper, he's a master of the chop tackle. Reliable.

"You can't just get up and dust it (concussion) off any more. You just have to look after it.

"Coaches are starting to look at it. (Les) Kissy would be fairly strict on what way you tackle.

"You see players so many times having poor tackle position getting sparked out. That's why if you are doing contract drills you don't do them at 70 per cent, you do them at full or no contact."

Come tomorrow, Healy will be immersed back into action and he will be hoping that all the studying pays off.

Belfast Telegraph


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