The Insider: Finally starting to see light after injury lay-off
These weeks off and away from the pitch test you, but it's been great to see such progress in blue and green
Published 02/12/2016 | 02:30
What a November this has been with Ireland hitting some milestones, making history and paving the way for a truly exciting new era. The Guinness Series could not have started better with that historic win against the world champions in Chicago.
It was fitting that the history books were re-written twice in the space of a week in the windy city of Chicago as the Cubs won the baseball world series after 108 years and four days later Ireland overcame the 111-year wait to beat the All Blacks for the first time.
Everything that went into the performance and the win was fitting and almost worth the century-long wait.
The tragic passing of Anthony Foley was still very much in the forefront of the minds so to see the figure of eight created by the players facing the Haka you slowly wondered was it going to be one of those special days.
To beat the All Blacks after a record-breaking 18-Test win streak and to score 40 points against them... it really was a performance that made everyone remember how special an island this is.
The way the Irish squad is progressing now is hugely positive and with the potential of a World Cup in the country in 2023, the game is in a great place at the moment here. The series was then topped off by the lads when beating the Aussies last weekend in the Aviva which rounded off a triple crown of victories against the southern hemisphere heavyweights in the space of six months.
Watching as a supporter while injured is obviously bittersweet because ideally you would love to be involved in these special moments but it's brilliant to see your team-mates and best mates achieve such incredible feats.
The November period is always a funny time between club and country as for Leinster there is such a large pool of players taken into camp.
There is almost a four-week divide in the squad with so many guys away on international duty in Carton House. It's where we want to be as a squad, providing so many players to play at Test level, but it also really tests the depth within the set-up.
In saying that, it's provided younger guys with opportunities and gives them invaluable first-team experience going forward. The likes of Andrew Porter getting time against the Scarlets last week and making such a strong impact just adds so much to the environment in the club moving towards bigger things.
The performance in Wales was not where we wanted to be when conceding 38 points and losing but I thought the mental resolve shown by a largely inexperienced group to get that try bonus point after going down to 14 men was a credit to the group.
Things are not always perfect and a lot can go wrong in 80 minutes of rugby but the way we bounced back when we were up against it last week to get something out of the game was really encouraging.
For me at the moment I'm thankfully making really steady progress in what has been a long road to recovery from my quad tear. I'm into my 11th week of rehab now and the medical and S&C staff are delighted with how things are going so please God I will be back in blue in early January.
Long-term injuries like this really test your mental resilience at times but you just need to look at the bigger picture with a positive outlook. I know when I'm back I'll be in a position to attack the second half of the season a lot fresher than the majority of the squad. I've had a strong block of skills and strength conditioning that will hopefully add to my game and to the group coming back into the fold.
This weekend will be a tough fixture against the Dragons. They will be looking to kick on again having had a good win against Edinburgh last time out. The lads have had a good week training and we have been fortunate to get players returning from Irish duty to strengthen the team. We need a win ... so get down and be the 16th man tomorrow in the RDS!