Monday 24 April 2017

Confidence is growing as our injury list reduces

Naulia Dawai has his eyes firmly on the ball during training at the Sportsground. Photo: Sportsfile
Naulia Dawai has his eyes firmly on the ball during training at the Sportsground. Photo: Sportsfile

Garrett Coughlan, Head Physiotherapist

It was nice to be able to give Pat and the coaching team a shorter injury list this week.

While injuries - short, medium and long-term - are part and parcel of the game, we were unlucky for a period of time that a lot of the injuries were coming in the same position and affecting the competitiveness of the squad at times.

We now have a good few players leaving the RTP (return to perform) group and joining full training, which is fantastic. For some of them, it's been a long slog to get back, and you can't help but share in their excitement at getting back in the thick of it.

Ultimately being able to play games is all a player wants to do but for us as a medical team, it's about managing their expectations and ensuring they are fit and healthy before they return. That's one part of the job anyway.

Everyone in the organisation was particularly pleased to see Eoghan Masterson make a comeback last month. It was a horrific leg injury for Eoghan in February 2015 and he had 11 long months of rehab before he was able to take to the field again.

It takes a lot of mental strength to get over an injury like that and face in to such a long lay-off. But Eoghan, like so many of the guys in here, has a fantastic attitude and his work ethic is remarkable.

There is no doubt it was tough on him but he believed the rewards would come and kept a smile on his face during all those early mornings in the gym or physio room.

Buzz

I'm sure the RTP group will miss having him around but there was a great buzz seeing him get back out on the pitch doing what he loves most.

Hopefully he can push on now and get some game time under his belt over the next few weeks.

Every player is motivated differently when it comes to their prehab and rehab and I guess it's about getting to know what makes them tick so we can get the most out of them.

Prehab is such an important part of being a professional rugby player and some guys are meticulous when it comes to the different exercises, but some need more reminders, especially the younger guys. It's a very professional environment and you need to have players who are constantly driving the standards.

That emphasis on standards is huge now as the team look to the next block of games where we need results to see us move up the Guinness Pro12 table.

But it doesn't just fall on the players. Every department is constantly looking to improve and push ourselves and that ultimately has an effect when it comes to game day.

We have a great medical team in Connacht that is growing to look after our players. Myself and David Hanly look after the senior players while Rachel Wyer and Orla Armstrong are responsible for the women's game, academy and underage groups.

Our team doctor Alan Farrell oversees our medical care and we also have two soft tissue therapists, Robbie Fox and Alan Daly, to help players with their recovery. It's a fast-paced job and no one day is the same but there are a lot of rewards there too.

We work very closely with the strength and conditioning and rugby coaches on a day-to-day basis to manage players and ensure the best outcomes for them.

For away games like this weekend in Wales, we have one physiotherapist, a doctor and a soft-tissue therapist travel with the squad.

Pre-match strapping for the physiotherapist can be busy as we normally have two of us at the home matches.

The pitch in Cardiff is a 4G which can be a challenge as it's not a surface that we're used to training on or playing on week to week.

That said, the guys are well prepared mentally and physically for the match on the back of some quality training sessions over the past two weeks in Galway.

Despite the close defeat to Toulouse and the disappointment of just missing out on a Champions Cup quarter final, there is a great buzz around the Sportsground in the lead up to the next block of games.

There is great confidence amongst the management and players that we can improve and perform well in the remaining matches.

We'll be hoping we can have as many players available for them.

Irish Independent

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