Player Diary: Josh will be back stronger and better than ever
Hearts sank in Leinster when my housemate suffered his ACL injury - a cruel blow for great fella
Almost six months into my rehab now and things are beginning to pick up speed and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I've hit a couple of milestones in my rehab since Christmas when my last Player Diary. I started running and have recently started my change-of-direction drills which is one of the final stages in rehabbing an ACL.
I actually ran my first "Bronco Test" today which is a horrific fitness test brought in last season by Charlie Higgins. It is dreaded by all of us. It went alright thankfully! I also have my six-month tests in Santry Sports Clinic next week which consist of some strength testing and some 3D biomechanics testing which is pretty cool. They hook you up with markers all over your body and you sprint and change direction and it is all recorded by cameras and analysed to make sure you are moving correctly.
All going well and I will be able to join back up with the squad for regular training in the coming weeks.
There is still no solid return-to-play date but it is definitely getting close; exciting times. Even now, I'm doing my running sessions and skills sessions on the side of the pitch while the lads are training and I feel more part of it all.
Unfortunately, we all got a bit of a shock when we heard about Josh (van der Flier). It was absolutely heartbreaking when we got the confirmation it was his ACL. I live with Josh together with Adam Byrne and Peter Dooley and when he put it in our house WhatsApp group, none of us knew what to reply.
I was pretty certain beforehand what it was. Between my own ACL injury and studying physiotherapy I think I could be an expert in knee injuries at this stage.
There isn't much you can say at a time like that but I think it will help him having me there to let him know what helps, what worked and what he can expect. Ed Byrne has played a similar role in my rehab, he has gone through it all and is always available to meet for a chat to see how I am progressing and if there is anything I can pick his brains about. It is particularly satisfying seeing how well Ed and Jordi Murphy (left) are playing this year, I think they have been two of our stand-out players and have both gone through ACL tears recently.
It will be a difficult few months for Josh, as it has been for me, but he will be back stronger and better than ever. He is extremely driven and will attack his rehab with the same attitude he always attacks games. It will also give him a chance to find this girlfriend he has been looking for the last few months - he will have a bit more time on his hands now so I think that will be good to keep him occupied on his time away from training!
There was a joke going around the club that our house was cursed. Myself, Josh and Adam all have had knee injuries since moving into our new house last year. We were telling Peter to strap up his knee for the rest of the year just in case! It was also great to see Adam back out on the RDS pitch last week.
Speaking to Josh, I think what he is most disappointed about is missing the Saracens Champions Cup Quarter-Final in April. This is an enormous fixture for the club and the excitement has been bubbling around the place since the fixtures were confirmed. I think it was the game everyone wanted to see. It will most definitely be one of those special days with the Aviva packed and everyone will want to be involved in it.
It was great to see Will 'Porridge' Connors getting his first cap against Edinburgh last week, even if Lowey didn't know his name! Also congratulations to Ciarán Frawley, who had a great game on Saturday against the Scarlets; nice to see another player come up through the clubs/youths system. Also Jordan (Larmour) getting capped for Ireland, I don't think I've ever seen such a meteoric rise through the ranks in any walk of life. His cap was well deserved. He has been sensational for us this year.
There is another historic evening in store on tonight when the Southern Kings come to the RDS. They will be the first South African team to play a PRO14 game at the RDS.
Again, with so many of the squad in national camp it will give others a good chance to show what they can do.
This is a huge period for the squad where we can show our strength in depth and it's a game everyone is looking forward to.