Sport Munster Rugby

Sunday 30 April 2017

Player Diary: Injury is frustrating but opening with a win helps ease the pain

CJ Stander scores Munster's second try in the Pro12 game against Benetton Treviso at Irish Independent Park last weekend
CJ Stander scores Munster's second try in the Pro12 game against Benetton Treviso at Irish Independent Park last weekend

Denis Hurley

I'm out of action at the moment but the show must go on without me. The guys got an important win last weekend against Treviso, and they've another massive Pro12 game on Sunday away to Ospreys.

For me it's been a long few weeks since I got the injury in training. It's called a syndesmosis injury, or a high ankle ligament strain, and it has a huge impact on my life outside of the game as well.

I've spent the evenings with my foot up, and I have to be really diligent about making time so I can ice it constantly. That's just to keep the swelling at bay.

It is very important to keep my foot off the ground as often as possible, because this is the type of injury that can worsen just from putting my body weight down on it.

If I was to go into town and walk around for a couple of hours, by the time I come home my foot could be swollen up again, and that certainly won't help the ligament to heal.

The better I look after it now, the quicker I will be back to full fitness and playing again with Munster.

Process

The guys are keeping me tipping over there with whatever work I can do at the moment. It is just a rehab process that you have to work through when you are a professional sportsman.

Inevitably, when you get an injury like this there is always the question of whether it will need surgery or not, and when you get past that, then it's just based on what progress I make with the rehab.

Thus far, thankfully, I have escaped the need for surgery. No player ever wants to get that done, because you are guaranteed at least three months out of action then.

Hopefully there will be no hassle with this and it will continue to progress well.

When an injury happens initially you just spend the first week getting your head around being out of action.

For me, the pre-season games were coming up before it happened, and I was looking forward to game-time and just getting ready for the season.

But that's just how it goes in the profession I'm in: it was difficult having to watch the guys play Treviso last weekend, but it's a team sport, and you have to be there for your colleagues.

It was good to get the win, when you consider it was the first game of the season. Treviso are a tricky team to play, and are very physical. They can throw a lot of different things at you, especially around the set-piece, so you have to be aware of the threat there.

But, in fairness to the lads, I thought they played really well.

We were probably just missing the clinical edge and accuracy at the end of our moves. There was some great phase-play and the lads made lots of good line-breaks while linking up really well together, but moves broke down at the final phase and we missed some scoring opportunities.

It could have led to more tries and made the game a lot easier for ourselves, especially in the second half, but that will come in time.

It was good to see some new combinations out there, with a few guys making their competitive debuts for Munster.

You have got to give guys a chance to click, and with a few games under their belts things will work more seamlessly.

It's great to have the talent that we have coming through the ranks, and those games will stand to the newcomers in this team.

It's obviously early days still in the Pro12, and there is plenty to work on, but the positives already outweigh the negatives from a Munster point of view.

I'm really excited about seeing what these guys can do at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

Ospreys would hold themselves in the highest regard, and with a great home record they will be looking to turn things around after defeat against Ulster last weekend.

For them not to even score a try must have been a massive disappointment and their coach Steve Tandy reflected on that after the heavy defeat.

They will most definitely look to bounce back against us with a win in front of their home support, and they'll be looking to put in a big performance as well.

I am sure they are relishing the opportunity to take us on after the Pro12 semi-final last year where we just held on at the end in Thomond Park. That will have left a sour taste in their mouths, especially when they had a late try ruled out.

But I know our lads will be looking forward to the challenge. There are certain teams in the league that you really look forward to playing because they are the top sides, teams that you want to test yourself against, and Ospreys are definitely one of those.

We didn't perform well in our last outing at the Liberty Stadium and I know the guys will want to give a better account of themselves this time around.

It will be a case of testing ourselves to see have we improved and it will be a huge mental and physical battle from the get-go. You need to get yourself in the right frame of mind before a big game like this one.

Unfortunately I won't be able to affect the result on the pitch, but I hope I can help a few of those younger guys off it, even if it was only to impart a bit of the experience I have of playing against Ospreys in recent years.

There's no doubting this is a big game for both sides, but if we can come away with the points we would be off to the perfect start before the break for the World Cup.

Irish Independent

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