Sunday 18 February 2018

Leamy close to Munster return

Phil Cadden

Denis Leamy feared for his future in rugby as he battled to come back from the devastating injury which sidelined him last season.

The Ireland and Munster No 8 is set to make his return next month following a seven-month lay-off with a knee injury. But Leamy admits any remote fears of having to quit, and so being out of work, spurred him on in his recovery.

"Having a long-term injury is very depressing and it is difficult going through the rehabilitation," said Leamy.

"As a rugby player, being out for seven months is a huge time away from the game. But you have to be positive and say it's only an injury as I know it is difficult times for people in Ireland with the recession. We are lucky with the support we have at Munster and the fact that we have good, secure jobs was one big motivation to come back for me.

"I did study Sports Science for two years but rugby is really all I know. If I'd had to retire, I would have gone back to college to finish my degree as jobs are hard to come by in the work force. Of course, there were times when I went to the gym and felt like turning back around.

"But I know it will be all worthwhile when I'm back playing for Munster and Ireland again. I have a great job and I want to play for as long as possible."

Leamy, who has previously undergone two shoulder operations, is targeting a pre-season return to training and insists he will be raring to go for the Magners League opener against Italian newboys Aironi in six weeks' time.

"I'm not quite 100 per cent but I'm getting there. I only started running six weeks ago but it's good to be back. I'm no stranger to being on the sidelines and it is frustrating. The amount of time and then the boredom of having to stick to a programme made this the most difficult of all the injuries.

"But I've managed to dig it out and all the hard work seems to have paid off. It's a massive lift for me to be back in training. My aim is to start the season."

Before then, Leamy, along with the injured Irish stars such as Paul O'Connell, Rory Best and Stephen Ferris, who missed the summer tour to Australasia, will meet up with head coach Declan Kidney for a one-day camp in Enfield.

And the 41-cap star, who hasn't figured for the national side since the convincing victory over Fiji last autumn, believes the call-up is a big boost with the World Cup only 14 months away.

"It's nice to be kept involved by Declan and it's great news to be given the call to join up. He's an excellent communicator and it's a major strength. You always feel wanted and part of the squad. You never know when the next opportunity will come. There's a long way to go before the World Cup but it's better to be involved than not."

Sunday Independent

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