Connacht flanker Jake Heenan had his season cut short in February when he was told he needed surgery on a troublesome shoulder injury.
Jake Heenan arrived in Connacht last summer and was one of the standout breakthrough talents of the 2013/14 season.
At Connacht the 22-year-old quickly became known for his professionalism, his devotion to analysis and all-round work ethic both on and off the pitch.
A mature and very driven man, it obviously came as a huge disappointment to him that he would have to take a break from playing to allow for the recovery.
“I was of course disappointed that I would be ruled out for a while, but I knew I need the surgery on my shoulder and it was better to do it early so I’d be right for pre-season in the summer,” said Heenan, the former New Zealand Under-20 captain.
“I’m still very much involved up at the Sportsground, whether its opposition analysis for the team or working away on my rehab.”
Always eager to develop and to keep busy, Heenan was quick to throw himself into community work and to develop other areas of his life outside of rugby.
Prior to his injury, the young back rower was involved in coaching the senior squad at Coláiste Iognáid (the Jes) in Galway and most recently, he has commenced a part-time internship with the Marketing Department at NUI Galway, a close commercial partner of Connacht Rugby.
In addition, he has been working closely with local charity Dochas don Oige – a training centre in Liosban, Galway working with youth offenders and young people at risk from the age of 15.
Speaking about the work the charity do, Heenan said: “It’s a great cause. They’re working so hard in the community to address anti-social behaviours amongst young adults and to equip young men and women with skills through FETAC courses and a range of other personalised services.
“They do a good bit of art and woodwork in the centre in Liosban, and they organise a few overnight trips with activities such as camping, kayaking and climbing.
“It’s great fun being involved and helping out where I can. Last week, I brought some of the young guys up to try out the Connacht gym.
“They got to meet Pat (Lam) who was working in there and we put them through their paces on some of the machines. I think they really enjoyed it.
“Dochas don Oige rely on funding and that’s something I’d like to help out with going forward.”