Cian Healy allowing hamstring surgery time to bed-in

Lions, Ireland and Leinster prop expects to be back running by the end of December

By John O’Sullivan

There is more than a trace of macabre fascination in inviting Cian Healy to graphically describe how he managed to tear his hamstring off the bone. There seems to be a general rule of thumb in sport in that the more severe the injury the more innocuous the circumstances.

The 27-year-old Lions, Ireland and Leinster prop suffered his at a training session when breaking off the back of a maul. He explained: "I was in open space for a bit of a run and I caught my heel in the ground; my knee locked out and my body went over the top of it. I just extended the whole back of my leg and folded over it so it just popped out of the back. It was miserable enough pain.

“I thought I was after pulling my hip out of place because it was a big hit. Jamie (Heaslip) was slagging me about the shriek I let out. It was a pretty bad one.” It seared right through his pain threshold to the point where he realised he hadn’t experienced anything like it before.


He continued: “I was thrown into the van. They brought me straight out to Santry and into the scanner. I sat down with (Dr Eanna) Falvey in his office as he was going through it (the scan) and he showed me one side and the other side and said: ‘that’s supposed to be up there’ and that was a bit of a ‘oh no,’ that’s a bad one.’

"The kind of timeframe didn't creep in until I was talking to Straussy (Richardt Strauss, who suffered a similar injury that required surgery and was out for five months) and he was telling me his craic, how long it took him and how it's not really possible to go too far ahead of what they say; so that was a bit of a killer.

“They cut at the bottom of your arse and the top of your hamstring. It was only a small scar, a four or five inch cut. I gather there are pins in the hip or in the pelvis and threads at the end of them. That’s what the hamstring is reattached to.

"Knowing that, tells me a little bit more about how cautious I have to be because it's literally hanging on by a thread. It made getting out of bed a bit more nerve-wrecking." Ah yes, beds. It's apposite timing that he's spearheading a marketing campaign for a new line in the King Koil bed range - he's speaking at the launch - given that he's had a little more mattress time of late.

He knows though that he must stick to the stipulated timeline. The surgeon has intimated that he can resume running by the end of December. From there it'll be a race to get game-time ahead of the Six Nations Championship. He hopes to play some part in the campaign.

It’s not as if he’s idling at the moment. “I’m training a good bit at the moment. It’s given me opportunities to work on the neck,build that up and build the ankles up again. Now there’s a lot of hip focused stuff because this (right) leg lost a fair bit of muscle. If that starts lagging then the hips will go, the back will go, so it’s trying to cancel any knock-on effects of it and single that out on its own.”

Healy is only too aware that one player's misfortune is another's opportunity and this weekend he'll watch provincial team-mate Jack McGrath and Munster's Dave Kilcoyne get game time in his position. He knows that in a Leinster context McGrath will be looking to make it harder for Healy to win the starting role back when his fitness returns.

Healy admitted: “Give him a sniff of the jersey and he’s a driven enough player who’s not going to want to let it go. He knows his stuff, he’s quality and that’s going to be one of my big tasks when I come back. Coming in having run for three or four weeks maybe, that’s my timeframe to take it (the jersey) off someone who has been playing international, playing European rugby.

“That will be a tough thing to do. That’s probably going to be the biggest task, rather than coming off the injury.” He won’t go to the Springboks game on Saturday, preferring to watch the game on television, probably in the company of friends, who have been supportive during his initial convalescence.

He’s enough to keep him tipping away, a spot of DJing at Halloween, watching his former team-mate turned pundit Brian O’Driscoll on television and deciding whether the latter or Roy Keane’s autobiography merit his attention first.

Understandably he hankers after being in Carton House this week, pulling on the green jersey and one suspects that when it’s time as he says, ‘to flick the switch,’ he’ll be raring to go. A coiled spring in every respect.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer