Stepping into the shoes of the sidelined Marcus Horan, young Leinster prop Cian Healy will get his first taste of Test rugby when he makes his debut for Ireland in Sunday’s GUINNESS Series clash with Australia at Croke Park.
CIAN HEALY (CLONTARF/LEINSTER)
Born: Dublin, October 7, 1987
Height: 6ft (183cm)
Weight: 18st (115kg)
Leinster Caps: 46; Points: 10 (2 tries); Debut: v Border Reivers, Donnybrook, Magners League, May 5, 2007
Ireland Caps: 0
Ireland ‘A’ Caps: 8; Points: 0; Debut: v England Saxons, Welford Road, Leicester, ‘A’ International, February 1, 2008
Ireland Under-20 Caps: 4; Points: 5 (1 try); Debut: v Wales U-20, Liberty Stadium, Swansea, U-20 Six Nations, February 2, 2007
One of the most naturally-talented young props in the country, Cian Healy is making great strides at both provincial and international level.
The Dubliner, who only turned 22 last month, was part of the Ireland Under-20 side that won the Grand Slam in 2007. Magners League and Heineken Cup winner’s medals have followed with Leinster over the past two seasons, while he helped Ireland ‘A’ win the Churchill Cup last summer.
In 2008, his first year in the IRFU High Performance Select Group, Healy made his Ireland ‘A’ debut and was part of Ireland’s Six Nations training squad.
A powerful and pacy presence in the loose with subtle footballing skills and a strong all-round game, he is a solid scrummager and coped superbly with the might of Martin Castrogiovanni and Julian White in May’s Heineken Cup final.
PLAYER FACTS AND TRIVIA:
– Cian Healy has an athletics background. While attending Belvedere College, he became the All-Ireland intermediate javelin champion and then took it a notch by winning the All-Ireland senior shot putt and discus titles two years in-a-row
– Healy first came into contact with a rugby ball as a seven-year-old, playing with his friends at Clontarf Rugby Club. He has kept close ties with ‘Tarf, with whom he made his AIB League debut as a teenager and played for most recently as last year
– He showed his versatily as a front rower in secondary school, playing at hooker for the Belvedere College Junior Cup team before switching between hooker and prop during a three-year run in the Dublin school’s Senior Cup side
– He won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup with Belvedere College in 2005 as they ended the school’s 33-year wait for the title. Also in that final-winning side were Ian Keatley, who made his debut for Ireland last summer, and Healy’s current Leinster squad colleagues, Paul O’Donohoe and Eoin O’Malley
– Healy lined out for the Leinster and Ireland Schools sides while at Belvedere, playing his part as Ireland picked up a second Schools Triple Crown in three seasons. Recognition followed at Under-19 level, he played at the 2006 IRB Under-19 World Championship in Dubai, scoring a try in Ireland’s fifth-sixth place play-off win over Wales.
– Healy is the 29th past pupil of Belvedere College to win a cap for Ireland adn the second this year as Ian Keatley was capped during the summer tour. The last before them was Fergus Dunlea in 1989 and he follows in the footsteps of the likes of Tom Crean, Eugene O’Davy, Karl Mullen, Tony O’Reilly and Ollie Campbell.
– Future internationals Keith Earls and Ian Keatley graduated with Healy from that U-19 side, with the trio playing important roles the following season in the Ireland Under-20s’ historic Grand Slam success in the U-20 Six Nations Championship. Healy featured in four of the five games, scoring a try in the title-clinching victory over Italy
– Next Sunday’s match against Australia will see Healy become the fourth player from that 2007 Ireland Under-20 side to be capped at senior level, following in the footsteps of Keith Earls (November 2008) and Ian Keatley and Darren Cave (both May 2009). Luke Fitzgerald, another current international, missed out on the Under-20 Grand Slam, pulling out of the first game against Wales with a neck injury
– Even at underage level, Healy was excelling in the gym. Three years ago, IRFU Development Manager John Murphy noted: “Cian’s main strength is his dynamism. For a front row forward, he’s very mobile and has cracking skills. He’s also a strong scrummager and has shown particular promise in the gym.”
– Healy next made his mark with Clontarf and the Leinster Academy and just a few weeks after the U-20 Grand Slam, he made his senior debut for Leinster as a replacement in their Magners League win over Border Reivers at Donnybrook
– Healy’s fine development continued in the 2007/08 season, with two superb tries against Glasgow Warriors and Ulster. He became a member of the IRFU High Performance Select Group and January 2008 saw then coach Eddie O’Sullivan include him in his extended Six Nations squad
– Speaking back then, Healy’s Leinster team-mate Malcolm O’Kelly was suitably impressed by the youngster. “Cian has a massive attitude and he is an incredible athlete in the gym,” he said. “He’s way ahead of some of us, so it’s just a matter of him learning the game a bit more from guys like myself, Ollie Le Roux and the more experienced players.”
– That same season saw him enjoy his first Heineken Cup run-outs against Edinburgh, Toulouse and Leicester Tigers, before his medal haul increased with Magners League and Churchill Cup Plate honours for Leinster and Ireland ‘A’
– The squad sessions with Ireland were also building up as he was called up for autumn international and Six Nations duty as new coach Declan Kidney assumed control late last year. Speaking at the time, Healy acknowledged Kidney’s influence by saying: “Deccie has been very good, very helpful. He’s pulled me aside a few times to tell me where I stand. He doesn’t leave you in the dark, which is good.”
– Healy, who has deffered a Physical Education and Biology course at DCU, continued to work hard on his game last season and further progress was seen when he played in all nine of Leinster’s games on the way to being crowned European champions, donning the number 1 jersey for the knockout stage wins over Harlequins, Munster and Leicester
– Made two starts and one appearance off the bench as Ireland ‘A’ won the Churchill Cup title for the first time last June. His form for Leinster this season has been of the standout variety, as evidenced by his man-of-the-match display in the recent win over Cardiff which has his province top of the Magners League table
– Away from rugby, Healy is a keen artist and says that sketching and painting help him relax in the lead-up to important games. “Ah, sure it’s just something to keep you occupied! It relaxes me and helps keep my mind clear,” the multi-talented prop said. “I’ll paint anything that comes into my head or whatever’s on my mind.”
– Healy has a growing reputation as a brilliant performer in the gym. His Ireland squad colleague, Tony Buckley, confirmed this in a recent interview when saying: “Cian’s incredibly strong – I’ve seen him in the gym lifting some incredible weights.”
– Conscious of maintaining his ongoing development on the pitch and in the gym, Healy has bulked up noticeably in the past 18 months. “Before the summer last year, I was weighing in at 105 or 106kg. Now, I am up to 115-116kg. I turned to steak for protein in the last year and it has helped me to pound on a lot of weight.”
ON BEING SELECTED FOR HIS FIRST CAP –
“It’s a dream come true. This is what I’ve wanted since I was a child.
“To be going into such an experienced team, it’s unbelievable. I can’t get my head around it.
“There is hope of course, but I didn’t expect anything at all. It was just a case of trying my hardest for Leinster and if it worked out…thankfully it did.
ON DECLAN KIDNEY’S ADVICE –
“Declan always just said play as myself and don’t try and do anything you’re not comfortable with. Play the way you play – that’s why you’ve got here.
“I am quite nervous but I think it’s more the enjoyable sort of nerves rather than fear or anything. I’m just anxious to get out there now, it’s going to be a tough few days getting to sleep.”
ON FACING BIGGER PROPS –
“When you come up against the Bull (John Hayes) or Tony Buckley, you have to contend with two things.
“First up is their ability. Second is their physical size. They are both massive men and if you’re not at your very best, they will physically dominate you at set piece time. So you have to get your head around that.
“I’ve come up against both of them (playing against Munster) and they, alongside Marcus (Horan), are top class props.”
ON WORKING HARD ON HIS SCRUMMAGING –
“You can only get experience by playing and by working hard on and off the field. The gym work is hard. It develops strength.
“Then you have to bring that to the real tough stuff in matches, like how to get your bind working properly, where to place your feet.
“It is not how testing the scrums are, it’s how many scrums there are which will take the energy out of your legs.
“That is why it is important to work on endurance as part of the strength training.
“Some props will come in to target the hooker. Some will target me straight away. After one or two scrums in a match, you get a feel for what specific area they are going after to disrupt our scrum.
“You try to change or adapt to the situation to get the better of them.
“Everyone has helped me to progress. I would listen to everyone and take it in, then apply what works for me.
“With Leinster, Ollie (Le Roux), Jono (Gibbes), Stan (Wright), CJ (van der Linde) have been great. It probably goes back to Reggie (Corrigan) and Will (Green) who were huge influences and helped me to learn my trade.”