Saturday 25 November 2017

Returning Healy beginning to hit his stride - Fogarty

Scrum coach John Fogarty has hailed fit-again Cian Healy Photo: Sportsfile
Scrum coach John Fogarty has hailed fit-again Cian Healy Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Jack McGrath has done such a good job deputising for Cian Healy, it is easy to forget what Ireland and Leinster have lost in the Lion's absence.

The Clontarf native has been below his best for almost two full seasons now due to a series of bad injuries that have taken their toll on his powerful body.

He spent both the 2015 Six Nations and World Cup chasing fitness before missing this year's Championship, while he struggled to get going for Leinster and missed the season finale.

The serious neck, knee and hamstring injuries have taken their toll, but the IRFU were confident enough in their loosehead to hand him a national contract ahead of McGrath, who is expected to be upgraded from his provincial deal at the end of this season.

McGrath will make his seasonal bow for the province against Edinburgh on Friday, a side who possess plenty of scrummaging power to test both props' form.

Healy has got a good chunk of work under his belt this pre-season and has started games for three successive weeks.

Against Glasgow Warriors last Saturday, there were signs that the 28-year-old could recapture his form of old around the pitch but he is yet to exert his previous dominance at scrum-time - something Leinster's scrum coach John Fogarty believes will come with time as he grows more confident in his body.

"He made really good adjustments from Treviso to Glasgow, a great job. The game-time he's had has helped him around the field. He showed up really well," he said.

"He's a hell of a lot more confident than he would have been. It does take and couple of games to feel your way through.

"He will be frustrated at not being dominant all the time - which is Cian - which is understandable. Hopefully, we can get him there as a scrum.

"It's putting the reins on him a small bit, he's hugely powerful and has a huge amount of experience, it is knowing what time is the best time to go and what's the best thing for the scrum.

"He'll be frustrated that he wasn't more dominant, we didn't get penalties. We launched (attacks from) 100pc of the ball but he didn't get penalties out of the game and always wants more."

On Friday, Leinster's scrum comes up against a formidable Edinburgh unit.

"It is going to be very difficult," Fogarty said. "In the previous two games, Edinburgh had 33 scrums; 16 of those were collapsed and only 14 came out with the ball played. They have a very big, powerful scrum. The referee will have a tough day as will we.

"We need to make sure that the boys are well aware of the threat."

Irish Independent

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