Sunday 16 June 2019

Healy's new deal completes remarkable renaissance

Leinster's Rob Kearney. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's Rob Kearney. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Whatever about Rob Kearney's uncertain future, Cian Healy, whose own career seemed in direst peril this time four years ago, will definitely remain a plank of Leinster and Irish plans for the next two years.

Healy's name was the notable inclusion on the raft of traditional May contract confirmations released by the province yesterday - another eye-catching move the repatriation of Cian Kelleher from Connacht

The 31-year-old Dubliner has won 88 caps as a loosehead prop with his country and is one of just three to have featured in all of Leinster's four European title successes.

However, four years ago, a bulging disc in his neck, which at one stage restricted the movement in his hand, threatened a premature end to what even then had been an outstanding career.

He was on the verge of signing an insurance form which would have summarily ended his professional life but, remarkably, managed to recuperate and even made the 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

Since then, he has radically transformed his body and re-established his pre-eminence for club and country, starring in Ireland's Grand Slam triumph last season as long-term rival Jack McGrath, now Ulster-bound, lost his place in the prop idol charts.

Kelleher's return is an intriguing one, combined with the indecision surrounding Kearney, in what is now an extremely competitive back three area with star winger James Lowe also soon to be freed from Champions Cup eligibility restrictions when Jamison Gibson-Park qualifies for Ireland this summer.

Irish Independent

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