Friday 24 January 2020

'I f**king love it when that happens - when lads are coming in and calling people out' - Cian Healy on new Leinster culture

Cian Healy says a lot has changed at Leinster since making his debut in 2007. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Cian Healy says a lot has changed at Leinster since making his debut in 2007. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

When Cian Healy first broke into the Leinster set-up, he was surrounded by big names who very much ran the show.

It's not too dissimilar to how the current squad operates, only now, young players are more encouraged to speak up and voice their opinions.

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Healy has never been one for screaming and shouting within the dressing-room, but even he is envious of the confidence that some of the less experienced guys now exude.

Stuart Lancaster has been a big driver of that open culture, as he goes out of his way to ensure that everyone feels included, which, in turn, helps keep the more experienced players on their toes.

Healy has taken on more responsibility since he made his Leinster debut in 2007, yet is still happy to truck along without making much fuss.

"Jeez, lots has changed from, what is it, 12 years or something," the loosehead reflects.

Opinions

"Lads are coming out of their school and Academy systems as full professionals, and they have opinions. They are fully a part of everything with the opinion-making in the squad and how the squad moves forward.

"People having those opinions is very important. There's not lads sitting silent in meetings and you're not trying to drag answers out of people. They are coming to the fore and having their say with what is right or wrong and that certainly helps everyone to progress.

"I didn't say much. I still don't say a lot. I'm an observer and I take in as much as I can. The way some of us work is we will take groups. We will take our front-row group and drag each other up, whether it is young lads or old lads, whatever is needed to bring everyone on. Each position, centres or tens, will have that smaller level of input."

As much as the younger players are pushed to step out of their comfort zone, there will always be a fine line between doing so in an arrogant manner.

Given that earlier this week, Lancaster put on an extra review session for Academy players who haven't yet played for Leinster, it would be easy for some of them to get lofty notions about themselves.

According to Healy (32), however, that is not the case with anyone within the club.

"I f**king love it when that happens - when lads are coming in and calling people out in meetings, as long as they're somewhat along the line of (being) right, putting their actions where their chat is.

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"We don't have anyone that gets all vocal in a meeting and goes silent on the pitch. That would be the worst case. If you are voicing yourself in a meeting and you're putting action to it on the pitch, regardless of your age, it is respected.

"When you show up here to train and work, you are expected to be on. You don't coast into training and take it easy on a Monday.

"You go in and attack every week. That's what we want. We're looking to put in the best performances and take as many points as we can from games and make memorable occasions. You have to be on for every single minute you are in this building."

Although they have been involved in training this week, the younger crew will take a back seat this weekend as Healy and the heavy-hitters return for Sunday's Champions Cup clash against Lyon at the RDS.

As Leo Cullen continues to show, however, they will eventually get their chance if they prove their worth behind the scenes everyday.

"The physical skill is there and, technically, more often than not, they're there," Healy maintains.

"I probably threw technique out the window when I was younger. They are probably a lot further on technically than I was at their age.

"I put myself in as a challenger for any of the young props coming in, test them, and they are out to test us.

"They want to knock the old boy off the top. It's lovely - great challenges.

"It might take a couple of weeks for some of the lads to get their voice, but they have it pretty quick.

"They're well-versed on it. Noel (McNamara) has the lads sorted in the Academy. They know what they should be looking out for. They know how things work.

"It works on a similar system the whole way through the Academy and to the top of the senior (squad).

"They are part of training. They know what we're trying to achieve. It's pretty fluid once you come into the Leinster environment. I'm loving it in here, full stop."

Meanwhile, hooker Ronan Kelleher is on course to make his return from a hand injury for Leinster's final pool game against Bennetton giving him a last chance to stake a claim for his place in Andy Farrell's first team as Ireland coach against Scotland on February 1.

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