Lyne looks forward following injury nightmare

Kieran Rooney

IT seems a bit odd really that the highly rated young Leinster prop John Lyne doesn't have too many complaints, given he had to spend a year out of the game because of injury.

The 22-year-old Lyne was reminded of the broken leg which put him out for six months when he came on as a late substitute in Leinster's victory over Cardiff at the Arms Park last Saturday.

It was in the corresponding game last season that he fractured his leg.

Lyne, then 21, eventually managed to return for three or four games, only to find that he needed a shoulder operation which required another five months on the sidelines.

So, it would hardly have been surprising if he was somewhat apprehensive when coming on to the field against Cardiff on Saturday last.

"Obviously, the injuries were a bit of a pain, but it comes with the territory.

"Better than that sort of thing happens at this stage of my career than later," stresses a remarkably pragmatic Lyne.

No doubt, he is reflecting on the fact that he wasn't the only one in the Leinster camp with major problems last season.

Aidan McCullen, for instance, broke his arm in the same Cardiff encounter at the Arms Park, while Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings also required surgery for shoulder problems.

Furthermore, James Norton fractured his hip when slipping down some steps near Dun Laoghaire Pier while, worse of all, prop Niall Treston suffered a horrific broken leg against Llanelli in a Celtic League encounter at Donnybrook.

Treston needed no fewer than six operations but is now back playing with Blackrock College.

So, Lyne sees it very much as a matter of dealing with the situation, instead of complaining. "To be honest, they were a series of freak injuries."

Lyne, a former Irish Schools, and Ireland under-19 and under-21 player is highly rated. He was named as the Leinster 'Young Player of the Year' in 2003.

At 22 he has plenty of time on his side, and weighing in between 17 and a half and 18 stone, he certainly has the physique.

But he appreciates that he must bide his time with Reggie Corrigan filling the loose-head position for Leinster.

Although on a development contract, Lyne is a member of Leinster's Heineken Cup squad. He combines that with his studies in Dublin Institute of Technology where he is doing Property Economics.

Unsurprisingly, he is full of praise for the Leinster set-up.

"Declan Kidney is doing an excellent job, along with Bobby Byrne, Roly Meates and Gerry Murphy.

"Roly Meates is one of the best, if not the best, scrummaging coach around.

"There's a hell of a lot of effort gone into the fact that we are doing so well this season. From my own point of view, of course I have aspirations.

"But, after what happened to me last season, I just want to get back into the swing of things, and play as many times as I can."

Lyne already had a few appearances since his return which will surely be added to during the season. His progress is sure to be watched closely by Lansdowne and at Castleknock College where he was coached by Mick and Charlie Quinn.

And, if he just manages to stay clear of further serious injuries, you never know just what might happen.

Meanwhile, European rugby officials are travelling to Italy after Leicester complained about the change of venue for their Heineken Cup tie against Calvisano next month.

The Pool One match on January 15 has been moved 30 miles to the Campo Comunale di Rovato in Brescia, against the wishes of the Tigers.

"The switch in venue, from San Michele to Campo Comunale di Rovato is a matter of concern to us, as we are expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 supporters to make the trip to Italy and the new venue has a capacity of only 1,000," Tigers managing director David Clayton said.

"We have informed the ERC of our reservations and their representatives will be travelling to Italy in order to inspect the facilities and evaluate the potential for temporary expansion of the ground's capacity.

"We are also investigating the possibility of providing a shuttle bus service to and from the ground for our supporters."

The venue change was enforced because the Italian club do not have floodlights at their own ground, and Heineken Cup rules state round six matches must kick off at the same time - which will be 3.0pm.

Scottish Rugby have recruited the services of two former Scotland internationals as full-time coaches.

Iain Paxton will head up the coaching of the under-21s while Peter Wright takes on the role with the under-19s.