Ryan finding some perspective after 13-month injury nightmare
Published 21/05/2015 | 02:30
Donnacha Ryan knows where this is going.
After 13 months out injured with a complicated foot problem that seriously threatened his professional career, he is keen to offer a sense of perspective.
"Lads, I am not getting dramatic here," he says to the lads who are mining for every drop of drama.
"I know you can build it up and that is the last thing I want. One thing I did have to learn is massive perspective, asking simple questions like what makes you happy and be grateful for what you have.
"That is basically how you do it from my point of view, anyway. I remember going into the gym after I got my sesamoid (the troublesome bone beneath his right toe) taken out.
"Ironically enough, there was a guy in there who was training for the Paralympics and he had no use of his legs. So I was happy to have my feet. Certainly there are ups and downs, but like I said, you focus on what you got and that is basically it."
His enforced absence was so prolonged that supporters would come up to him on the streets and ask how his retirement was going; however good-natured, the sense of displacement was unavoidable.
"I couldn't give anyone a certain time to adhere to," says the 31-year-old towering Limerick man. "That's the reality. It is a difficult tightrope you are walking in that situation. You don't know what the future holds.
"I didn't even get to the stage of putting pressure on myself, it was just about managing the pain.
"The pain was pretty sore for a while, I tried to rehab it for a while and it didn't work out, it's fairly boring now talking about that stuff, it is what it is, it happens to everyone a lot.
"I think I'm a lot more mature as a person and have a better perspective of where I want to go and what I want to do. I wouldn't maybe have enjoyed as many games in the past with pressure and that.
"I enjoy pressure but sometimes you are so close to the coalface you can't even enjoy the reasons why you are doing it whereas now I have such a holistic perspective you can actually enjoy going out training and being able to run, it's such a therapeutic thing to do."
Ask him if he had a low point and he spurns any lachrymose lurch in plot: "Lads, you're going dramatic on this. There's seriously no point, obviously there was an injury and I just want to get on with it, that's basically it."
Twist the question and ask was there a turning point and he is more definitive; "April 5th. That's basically it. We made a decision to go for it and here I am."
He is conscious others aren't; Damian Varley, his long-standing team-mate, for example, who was forced to quit in February with his own protracted foot issues; he was just 31 too.
"He didn't come out the right end of it and I suppose from his point of view you have to look at what do you do next," says Ryan who, instead of wallowing in box-set torpor, went back to college.
"It's probably the making of you and when you look back on a year out injured you wonder what you have to show for it, and it has been productive as much as it can be for me."
Ryan already has a Commerce and Irish degree and last year veered in an entirely different direction.
He studied geology for a year, as well as entrepreneurial studies, linking up with Canaccord Genuity, a wealth management company, backed by mentors Ray McMahon and Caroline Keeling.
Playing for Ireland again is far from his thoughts.
"It's all about the moment. It might make for a nice piece but every step I take now … there is still a big scar in the middle of my foot and I have to keep everything in perspective.
"I need to make sure I recover before training again. For me, it's focusing on my own thing. I was miles off the pace.
"I couldn't really walk at times, in the moon boot for the bones of eight months, out for 13 months altogether. So it's about re-programming everything again."