Friday 9 December 2016

Cian Healy: Mike Ross was 'pissed off' over Ireland axe

Published 28/10/2016 | 13:53

Ireland's Mike Ross and Cian Healy
Ireland's Mike Ross and Cian Healy

Leinster prop Cian Healy has revealed that fellow prop Mike Ross was “pissed off” with his axing by Joe Schmidt but has vowed to make an international comeback.

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Ross has been a regular for Ireland under Schmidt but fears have been expressed that his time in green could now be at end following his omission from the midweek squad selection for the November four-match international series.

But Healy insists that his team-mate can be spurred on to make a comeback.

“Yeah, I do. This could be something that could spur on a little bit out of him. I texted him and he was accepting but pissed off too. Certain things make him tick and this could pull something out of him.

“He is pulling out top speeds in training and gassing all of us in training. He has definitely more to give.”

Healy’s faith was backed by head coach Leo Cullen ahead of tomorrow’s Pro 12 clash against Connacht, where Ross starts as one of a raft of changes to the side which lost in the Champions Cup at Montpellier.

“It’s tough for Mike. He has been a real stalwart really. He feels he still has plenty to prove this week.”

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Cullen believes Connacht are favourites for tonight’s tie as they are less affected by international call-ups, even though the westerners have never won a league game in Dublin.

“Some players are unavailable so changes have to be made,” says Cullen, whose side were humbled in last May’s Pro 12 final by Pat Lam’s men.

“It’s a really big game for us against the Pro 12 champions and it is an opportunity for some guys to come in and take their chance.

“If we want to be successful and produce players from the Academy to play for Ireland, we need a competitive squad and we have focused on that in the last couple of seasons.

“It is tough because you can only pick 15 players every week. The Irish players have challenges coming up but we have a competitive team out.

“Connacht don’t get affected as we would be and their strength has been that they have a more settled squad. So that puts us at a disadvantage this week but we have pride in the players we produce for Ireland.

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“It’s the system in Ireland and we understand the challenges. We would like to avoid certain teams in this period and Connacht are one of those and it makes the possibly favourites going into this game.

“But there is plenty at stake for our players, at home in the RDS against the Pro 12 champions.

“It’s a challenge but the guys coming in have performed already this season, they are pushing hard and we expect them to give a good account of themselves, a guy luke Barry Daly was playing club rugby a few months ago.

"I’d like to have a more positive outcome. We sat off them in the final. We had a 7-6 thriller in Galway when we couldn’t capitalise on territory later on and we were defensively sound about from their try which was a poor defensive read, when Kieran Marmion took his try well.

“In the final we sat off them and watched them play so we need to be more aggressive in defence as they are a quality team. Their style has been very successful for them.

“We have made progress in our attacking game and we have improved there so we want to impose our style on other teams, this week it happens to be Connacht. We had a step back against Montpellier last week so we need to return to what we know what we can do this week.”

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Healy hopes he has put his injury nightmares behind him and is nearing “peak form” as he looks forward to a big month ahead when he will be prominent in the twin date against world champions New Zealand.

“It’s very important for us to take our opportunities and stick to the plan, we didn’t really stick to it last week and had one-off carries into really bigger men.

“It’s not really revenge for me, I watched the last one from the stands and it was hard to watch your mates lose like that and have nothing to do with it. That has burned with me and I have been thinking of what I can add to the team.

“I’m feeling very good and feel I am getting into form. There have been a few mistakes but physically I feel well and the lads have monitored me well here and it is paying dividends. I feel as if I am at my peak this week.”

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