Rugby World Cup
Cian Healy hails Ireland teammates after solitary confinement of rehab
Tristan Barclay
September 20, 2015
Ireland have started their Rugby World Cup campaign with a bang (video available in Australia only)

Cian Healy has paid tribute to his Ireland teammates and coaching staff for showing faith in him during his long and lonely recovery from neck surgery.

The loosehead prop, usually a hugely-influential presence in the Irish front-row, underwent a disc operation in May and was only passed fit to play last Monday.

But a nation breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday as Healy took to the field during Ireland's Rugby World Cup opener against Canada, with the 27-year-old enjoying a 20-minute run-out in the 50-7 thrashing.

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"I was worried about it," Healy said of his recovery. "But that's where the lads, medics and coaches stepped in to say 'take your time and get it right'. That made sitting there rehabbing a heck of a lot easier. I didn't feel like I had to rush back for anything.

"It was a long old road back, but the staff showed a lot of faith in me and gave me that time. They gave me the chance to build up all the strength I needed. I wasn't rushed or sent out unprepared. It was important to get out and show them that their trust in me would pay off."

Healy's neck surgery came after a nightmare season spent battling hamstring and ankle problems, which led to rumours the 51-cap prop would miss the World Cup altogether. He revealed the healing process required hours in solitary confinement in the gym, but insisted he was mentally tough enough to cope with the pressure.

"You're on your own in the gym and awful lot, but I'm alright with that," he said. "I don't really have much of a mental downer on that side. I'm able to separate it pretty well and not feel hard done by.

"If you can do that I think it makes everything else an awful lot easier, if you don't feel like you've had anything unjust done against you then it's easy to tip away rehab and get yourself better."

Ireland kicked off their Pool D campaign with a convincing victory over Canada at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, although the scoreline failed to reflect the resistance put up by the gallant North Americans. Healy almost marked his return to the international scene with a try, but the TV referee spotted a knock on to spoil the party.

"I knew I dropped it but I didn't know if it was back or forward," Healy admitted. "I'd have liked to get a few more tackles and a few more scrums, but that's not the way the game panned out. But I was happy to be out there and get over that first hurdle after a long enough time sitting watching."

© Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
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