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Healy determined to earn Test spot despite delayed arrival

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Cian Healy looks on during the British and Irish Lions media day at Syon Park on May 13, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Cian Healy looks on during the British and Irish Lions media day at Syon Park on May 13, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Getty Images

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Cian Healy looks on during the British and Irish Lions media day at Syon Park on May 13, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Cian Healy may slip down the pecking order for the Lions over the coming weeks but insists he wouldn't have it any other way.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland admitted that players involved in domestic finals, such as those from Leinster and Ulster, will be at an early disadvantage, given the training sessions they will have missed before the tour party leaves for Hong Kong.

Given the severely limited preparation time Gatland's squad have before the opening game against the Barbarians on June 1, just two weeks will prove significant.

However with the chance of a domestic and European double in the reckoning for Leinster, prop Healy insists his priority remains lifting both the Amlin Challenge Cup and Pro12 titles in successive weeks.

"I've seen the schedule for the rest of the (Lions) lads and there's a lot of fitness sessions, so I'm happy to have two matches to play," Healy said.

"I'm happy to carry on with games to keep up that physical edge, the tackles, heavy scrums and the breakdown. You can't replicate games, certainly not finals, in training."

Onus

When Healy and his fellow Lions from Leinster and Ulster join the squad, the onus will be on them to play catch-up.

"There's a level of professionalism that is expected and there's no space to go on the training field unprepared, so it will be up to us to put the hours in and learn the moves and calls," he said. "The other guys may have two weeks on us but it would not be fair on them for us to just turn up and not be up to scratch."

Brian O'Driscoll was the only member of the 37-man playing squad not to report to the Lions' temporary headquarters in London yesterday for a 'logistics' briefing that included the presentation of kit and formal wear.

It was a significant moment for Healy (25), who said: "It was great to open all the kit and see the badge but it's only a polo short and tracksuit. I'll have to work a lot harder to pull on the jersey – that's what I'm aiming for – but getting the kit certainly brought the realisation of the Lions.

"It seems a while ago that I sat down with my family and girlfriend in Clontarf to watch the squad announcement on TV. They all went haywire when my name was read out. I tried to act relaxed but I had to calm down my mother and sister. They've planned their trip to Australia."

Now the hard work begins and Healy revealed Ireland's Lions contingent are desperate to hand another son of Clontarf, O'Driscoll, a winning send-off in what could yet prove to be his last season.

"We want to make this memorable for Brian both on and off the pitch," Healy said. "It would be awesome to give him a winning send-off because he deserves it. He's been the player of the decade since rugby went professional."

O'Driscoll is not the only team-mate Healy will be striving to win for over the coming weeks, echoing his commitment to Leinster.

"There's a lot going on at Leinster with influential people like Joe (Schmidt), Isa (Nacewa) and Jonathan Sexton all leaving. We're a close squad who all want to do well for each other so it would be great to give those guys a winning send-off."

Irish Independent