Go-to line breaker Healy eyes World Cup
Having produced an astounding performance against the All Blacks, Cian Healy motored through the entire Six Nations
Rory Best, Cian Healy and Jordi Murphy celebrate at the final whistle. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
That’s one man going under the knife twice in six months yet he was still being back on the field for European action in January.
Having produced an astounding performance against the All Blacks in the November series encounter, Cian Healy motored through the entire Six Nations, starting every match but perhaps most notably being relieved by Jack McGrath in seven Test matches.
“It’s grand. I’ve taken a few bangs to the ankles but it comes with it, there’s a lot of pressure coming through in the scrum. But we’ve a lot of support. The lads have kept me well tied together and I’ve been kept off the odd Monday session. It’s done me the world of good.”
McGrath’s emergence should breathe life into Healy’s career, which has already yielded 47 caps since 2009.
He was a fraction too late to oust Marcus Horan or even Tom Court from the Ireland bench that captured the Grand Slam.
“I was kind of on the very, very fringes on the last one and there was a lot of envy watching the lads do that and being close with Jamie (Heaslip) and shared a lot of wins with him. He has always that one-up on me, so it is nice to have a level playing field now.”
We make a giant leap and bring up next year’s world cup in England.
“There’s a lot of rugby to be played before the World Cup.”
But is it possible for a Northern Hemisphere side to win the tournament?
“Of course it is. There’s no reason for it to not be. We’ve been playing good rugby, England have been playing good rugby, France have been playing good rugby.
“So there will be a lot of contenders coming in from the northern hemisphere in that. But that’s a long way to go yet.”
But the Six Nations champions could win it, couldn’t they?
“Of course they could, yeah.”
That’s a few back pages sorted but the fact that Ireland’s lineout maul and scrum are now to be feared makes anything possible. Like beating New Zealand or winning in Paris against an impressive French team.
The arrival of John Plumtree is as much a factor in this as Joe Schmidt.
“He has installed an awful lot of confidence in the pack,” said Healy.
“Between himself and Greg Feek they have told us what we can do and what we are capable of and given us something to live up to. They have told us what we have to do and they have been fairly sharp on what they want us to do.
“Something like today is quite satisfactory when you get to go to them after and shake their hand and know you have done them well.”
That Stephen Ferris is only just back and Seán O’Brien has and will be crocked for the entire season put an added emphasis on Healy to bring Ireland over the gain line.
“I just wanted to. It is one of things I enjoy doing. It is why I started rugby to be able to run at people, to run into space.
“Didn’t have to kick a football, it is one of the more enjoyable parts of the game. I was enjoying the scrum as well, it was a good game to be a part of.”
It might not have been possible without him.