Ireland full-back Girvan Dempsey has described his recovery from a hip injury as ‘slow but good’ as he tries to gain full fitness in time for Saturday week’s Six Nations showdown with Wales.
Girvan Dempsey had to relinquish the full-back spot last week in the lead-up to the Scotland game. He missed out on his 81st cap when he sustained bruising to his left hip during last Thursday’s training session at UCD and then failed a fitness test on Friday morning.
Geordan Murphy, Dempsey’s long-term rival for the number 15 jersey, stepped in to start against the Scots and put in a man-of-the-match display at Croke Park.
But Dempsey seems confident that he can prove his fitness for the Welsh game and regain his place from Murphy.
The Leinster stalwart said of the injury: “It’s improving day by day. The progress is slow but it’s good, it’s noticeable. I feel it’s really improving. I’m doing a lot of pool work. I’m happy with where it is at the moment.
“(When I got it) we were on the all-weather pitch (at UCD), sprinting along. I was hitting a line – we were doing a loop play – and a guy came around the back and clipped my heel and wrenched my hip flexor. And no, it wasn’t Geordan. He was gone home at that stage!”
Asked if he will be ready in time for next Tuesday’s team announcement, he replied: “Fingers crossed, yeah. I haven’t been able to run full tilt on it yet and that’s a progression for the end of the week.
“Hopefully, I’ll get out and do some running and get back on my feet. Maybe Sunday I’ll be able to do some speedy running and stuff.”
Like many of his team-mates, Dempsey thrives on competition for places in the squad and he was admittedly pleased to see Murphy get the plaudits as he starred in Ireland’s back-three.
“We get on very well. This rivalry has been built up and it’s been going on for years. It’s just competitions between two guys who are pushing for the one place.
“Geordy played fantastically well against Scotland. He did very well in everything asked of him and gave some impetus to our attack. It was good to see and it puts pressure on me. But I relish pressure and like being in those situations,” Dempsey added.
“Now it swings back to me. It’s up to me to get ready again, put in the work to get fit and impress in training to try and get back in. Eddie (O’Sullivan) has a few selection headaches but it’s a good place to be. It shows we have players in form.”
When he talks about what it is like to be injured for a big game like last Saturday’s visit of Scotland, you get a sense of just how much it means to the 32-year-old to pull on an Irish shirt.
“It hurts massively (being out injured). Talk to my family and friends. I haven’t been the easiest to live with last few days,” he conceded.
“It’s so frustrating. I just don’t like missing big internationals. I know there’s not millions left and Saturday was a special one. We want more silverware and I want to be part of that.”