Tuesday 23 January 2018

Denis Hurley Player Diary: I never felt sorry for myself and I'm delighted to be back at a good time

After a long, slow recovery from an ankle injury, Denis Hurley is ready to report for duty
After a long, slow recovery from an ankle injury, Denis Hurley is ready to report for duty

Denis Hurley

I'm glad to report that I'm back in training and the ankle is going well. I got back in last week so it feels great now and I am happy to have come through all of the rehabilitation.

It has been a long, slow process and at the beginning you are hoping it is going to be a three or four-week thing, but in reality it has ended up being eight or nine weeks for me on the sideline.

In the grand scheme of things it has not been the worst injury so I wouldn't be feeling sorry for myself and I am coming back at a good time.

When you look at the Ireland and France game on Sunday it just shows the level of injuries that can happen. It is amazing when the intensity is so high, the collisions multiply and the ferocity of the hits are crazy, so hopefully the boys that got injured won't be out for too long.

Things are going well in Munster at the moment and I imagine like anywhere else it's always a happy camp when you are winning. But at the moment, without even setting the world alight we are getting results which is brilliant.


Winning at times is an attitude and it is something that can becomes a good habit too, so looking at this block of games we need to be winning as much as we can and get a few more points in the bag.

It looks like it's going to be a busy few weeks ahead so it's pretty important to continue our recent good run of results tomorrow against Cardiff.

There are some tough games to play before we break into Europe - we have four Pro12 games before then, Cardiff and Ulster at home and Scarlets and Edinburgh away.

They are all strong sides and, like ourselves, Scarlets and Edinburgh have claimed three wins already. In this league there's no such thing as easy games so we can't take the eye off the ball.

We kick off this 16-match run with Cardiff at Irish Independent Park this weekend and we know how dangerous they can be. After three rounds they have scored the most tries so we have to be mindful of their attacking threat.

For us we have to start improving our performance on the field and we cannot afford to gift them easy opportunities and yardage. We need to be mindful of our set-piece, it is one of the strongest parts of our game when it goes right and we weren't fully on top of that against Glasgow.

Our scrum went well but our lineout didn't work to the standards we would like and the forwards have been working on that all week. The lads really want to bounce back with better set-piece stats and provide a solid platform so we create a few more scoring opportunities.

This weekend we are going to try and control the possession. Cardiff are a team that love to counter-attack and enjoy taking quick-tap penalties which they are really reactive to so it is important for us to keep possession as much as possible. If we retain the ball it will be harder for them to influence the game.

These are things that we have been working on and can tie in together and all going well three wins can become four as we start to build momentum into this big block of games.

Like everyone, I have been tuned in avidly to the World Cup and it looks like Ireland are a team playing with momentum. A win over Argentina would give them their first ever World Cup semi-final and I don't see why they can't pull it off.

It was a tough day out for the squad against France last Sunday and it was an unbelievable victory in the end especially considering the injuries in key positions. It didn't augur well but somehow the lads dug deep and won it well in the end.

The bench really backed up the squad mentality and Joe Schmidt got things right. Having guys ready is one thing but having them mentally in tune with everything is quite another thing.

Everyone knew the game-plan, the guys that came off the bench were ready to get involved and they added to the performance rather than taking from it.

It is one of the victories of the ages but there is no time to bask in it because the guys need to do it all again this Sunday against Argentina.

Argentina will be fresh and ready for the challenge - their opening game was against New Zealand but they haven't had a really tough game since then whereas Ireland have gradually been building game by game.

Argentina showed what they can do when putting in a massive performance against the All Blacks and will hold no fear in lining up Ireland next, a side they have done damage to in previous years.

This is going to be another physical game of high attrition and it will be interesting to see whether the bodies and the emotions hold up for it.

If Ireland can match the intensity and physicality they had for the game against France they will be difficult to stop and this would be a real fairytale victory if they were to reach the last four for the first time without a few big names.

The likes of Paul O'Connell is still going to have his voice heard in the background even if it is off the field and if Ireland can cope with the loss of Sexton, O'Connell and O'Mahony in the middle of a game like they did against France anything is possible.

Irish Independent

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