Tuesday 17 September 2019

Rhys Marshall: 'From rehab to study time, my schedule is well packed in recent days'


Red star: Rory Scannell’s monster kick to win last week’s game meant a lot to everyone. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Red star: Rory Scannell’s monster kick to win last week’s game meant a lot to everyone. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Rhys Marshall - Player Diary

While my Munster team-mates are either digging into braais in South Africa or deep dish pizzas in Chicago, I've been the model professional as I combine the life of an injured rugby player with my final cramming sessions for an exam on Tuesday!

I've been spending quite a bit of time with my head in the books in recent weeks and with a paper on Business Law ahead of me in a few days, I'm starting to sweat it.

It's one of the tougher modules in my course - a Bachelor in Agricultural Commerce from Massey University in New Zealand - and if I was a full-time student those four years would be long behind me. In the end I reckon it'll be eight or nine years in total.

Most of my mates back home went straight down the college route, so even though I signed a pro deal to play rugby, I wanted to keep an eye on life after rugby too. As soon as I signed with the Chiefs I was anxious to tick both boxes.


Seeing as the boys have gone away to South Africa this week things are quiet around the place and I've been able to sneak in a few extra minutes here and there. The good thing about working out of the HPC is that there is always an empty room somewhere to do some work.

Rory Scannell celebrates with Tyler Bleyendaal. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Rory Scannell celebrates with Tyler Bleyendaal. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

I was actually supposed to sit the paper over in South Africa with Niall O'Donovan as my supervisor, but because of the injury one of the guys in UL will sit with me now as I do it. If I was in South Africa it'd be really hard to schedule training, team outings and study so maybe my grades will benefit.

They send over the paper to UL and Massey stress that you have to sit down at the same time as the exam happens back home. But it'll be good to tick it off the list.

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The hammy rehab is going well. I picked up a small tear in the tendon as well as in the muscle, so that will slow me down a touch. Over the years I kind of forgot that I even had hamstrings, but in a physical Champions Cup game like that one you soon find them again.

It could have been worse: I was trying to steal the ball at a ruck and was hit pretty hard by one of the Gloucester forwards. On another day it would have been serious, but thankfully my knee bent just in time before any major damage was done.

I'll be out for a few weeks but I can't feel too sorry for myself. There's a few guys in the squad that will be out for a few months on end, so I'll take this setback and get back as soon as I can.

While I was out injured I was still in Thomond Park at the weekend for the Glasgow game. I knew it was going to be a real tough one. Playing under Dave Rennie and having my cousin, Callum Gibbins, as their captain I knew what to expect. We saw just what they could do in that spell before half-time.

While Warriors were 14 points ahead, I thought that they were slipping off a bit and we had a chance to come back. Then one of our boys put in a huge hit and it seemed to turn the momentum in our favour. They seemed to be shattered in the last 10 or 12 minutes, so once we got a chance I was confident we'd do it.

Then you saw at the end the boys really fronted up to get the ball back. I knew there was no way they could close the game out from a few minutes from full-time. It's very hard not to make one mistake. It goes to show what a bit of desperation on our part can add to the recipe.

It really was a monster kick from Rory, but you could see what it meant to us in the way everyone celebrated after. You don't usually see those kind of scenes from us, so I think we'll leave that one aside until the European final!

The boys needed the win to send them off to Africa with a lift, and I think they all went off with a smile on their face as a result. The last time we played Cheetahs over there we only won it by a point and we know they will front up against us.

I have been on about four or five rugby trips to South Africa, but it was a lot different going from Ireland to South Africa. We have a big South African influence in the team: Jean Kleyn, CJ and GG were godsends last year. Jean went and borrowed his mother's car and he drove us around the city a bit. That makes such a difference when you're not going from the hotel, to training and back to the hotel again. For me, it was by far the best trip I've had to South Africa and I'm sure it will be the same for the boys this time too.


The way we won it in Bloemfontein last year, it came down to a big scrum at the end and after we had kept ourselves in the game it was a real buzz.

Playing at altitude can be tough if you don't have a lot of miles in the legs. One or two of the boys were returning from injury in that game and they were in ribbons after it, but I'm sure we'll all be ready for it on Sunday.

In the next few weeks I'll make the trip to Dublin to see the All Blacks but they have a real tough one against England first next weekend. It's great to see the Munster boys playing for Ireland too, and I'm sure we'll see plenty of them involved such has been their recent form.

It'll be good to meet up with a few of the boys from home - Brodie Retallick and Nate Harris will be here - and when you're on the other side of the world a familiar face is always welcome, so the coffees will be on me I think!

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