Ian Nagle hoping injury nightmare over as he seeks pastures new
Mallow-born secondrow will leave Munster at the end of the season to pursue his career abroad
Ian Nagle: “It is three years since I have done much but I would still back myself 100 per cent that I am still that same player and more.” Photo: Richard Sellers/Getty
If a parallel was drawn between Ian Nagle’s senior professional rugby career to date and a musical genre, it would have to be the Blues.
Lyrics from the song, Born under a Bad Sign recorded by American blues guitarist Albert King and later, mega rock group Cream, seem apposite, especially the line, ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.’
Yesterday Munster confirmed that the 25-year -year-old Mallow-born secondrow had declined the offer of another contract to seek out pastures new. There was no rancour, far from it, as Nagle is deeply appreciative of the patience and support he’s been shown over a hugely frustrating three-year period, where injury was an unwelcome sidekick.
He desperately wants to break a bizarre cycle of misfortune. In November 2010, Nagle won the match of the match award in Munster’s famous 15-6 victory over Australia and at the end of the season, had to make room on the mantlepiece for the province’s Young Player of the Year award. It was a case of when not if he would be capped by Ireland.
He twice played for the Ireland Wolfhounds to go with international appearances at the U-19 and U-20 age-grade categories. Nagle though was about to be shunted from the fast track of the main line to a siding.
He explained: “In a pre-season game against London Irish (2011) I damaged my shoulder. I was out for two months. I should have had surgery but foolishly decided to play through it for the year. At the end of that season I got a shoulder reconstruction which was a seven-month job which took me to Christmas (2012).
“In February (2013) after playing four consecutive matches, I was going to be added to the Heineken Cup squad for the knock-out stages. I was due to play the final match before the quarter-final in the second row alongside Paul O’Connell.”
Unfortunately due to injury – Keith Earls and Luke O’Dea – a slot earmarked for Nagle had to go to a back instead. “Opportunities for the rest of the season were limited.”
Nagle agreed to a one-year contract extension but in the second match of this season he damaged his ankle and that kept him out until Christmas.
In a bid to get some game time he agreed to go on loan to the Newcastle Falcons in February. Picked to play against Gloucester, the same morning in training a team-mate landed on his ankle and the initial prognosis was that he would be out for the rest of the season.
Nagle worked hard to defy the medics. A fortnight ago, he came off the bench against Saracens, getting 15 minutes and this weekend, he is in the match squad for the Wasps game. He admitted: “In a club like Munster where there are so many great players there are limited opportunities and unfortunately I have been injured for the most part when they have presented themselves.
“I had a number of really innocuous ones but the timing has been really unfortunate. There tends to be certain periods during a season when players further down the rankings get an opportunity. There might only be two real periods during the year. Freakishly I have been injured for those two blocks of matches for the past three years, other than last year.”
He will make a decision shortly about his future considering offers from England and France. “I am fortunate; there are options. It’s important for me to go to a club that’s ambitious, go somewhere where there are opportunities.
“People say that a drawback in going to France is that you play too much rugby but it would be the opposite for me. It is exactly what I am looking for . . . . to hopefully be overplayed.
“The only way I could make a decision to leave Munster was to leave my heart out of it. The more games you play, the more confidence you get, the more you improve. That will have a large influence on where I go next year; to be somewhere where I can play weekly and get an excitement for the game again. From the player I was three years ago, I have put on 10 kilos, I have gotten fitter, stronger, faster.”
Nagle recalls a chat he had with Munster starting secondrow Dave Foley (25) on the night before the Toulon match.They reminisced about how not long ago they talked about a lack of opportunities. “
“A couple of years ago when I got that break, it was very tough for him (Foley) to see that. Now he’s in the first XV. Things can change very quickly. It’s great to see Dave Foley has taken his opportunities. It is three years since I have done much but I would still back myself 100 per cent, that I am still that same player and more.
“All a player can ask for is an opportunity; it is then up to him to take it. If I can get the right fit (club wise) for next year and keep fit, then it’s up to me and I’d back myself to do well.”