Cian Healy Opens Up About Signing His Retirement Papers
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Cian Healy has been an absolute revelation this season. After shedding a few pounds, and some unnecessary muscle mass, he’s back to the kind of form that saw him considered as one of the best looseheads in world rugby.
He’s usurped the usurper in Jack McGrath and reclaimed his starting position for both Ireland and Leinster, leaving the 2017 Lion restricted to cameos from the bench. Healy well and truly is back to his best.
Things however, could have been a lot different, with the prop having almost retired back in 2015. After surgery on a disc in his neck, nerve damage left him without the use of his right hand, and it looked like his rugby career was over.
He signed the papers, and was ready to admit defeat, deciding to go on a short holiday to reflect before rubber stamping his decision. Then suddenly he began to feel his right hand again.
“I got a bit of movement back in my hand and felt a bit of nerve twitching in my arm,” Healy said.
“The neurologist had told me,’ any sensitivity is good sensitivity, and it’s not fully dead.’ Once there is a glimmer of hope you have to chase it.”
“I was 27-28 and rugby was pretty much everything to me since school. You don’t just give up.”
“The papers were signed to retire before that World Cup. There was an awful lot of doubt and tough days coming back from it.”
“It was still shit scary, a dark enough time. I didn’t definitely know. It’s not like (the hand) opened up and I could write again. It was just a small little glimmer and you chase it.”
His recovery wasn’t easy. It was all about taking one positive at a time.
“The simplest, simplest stuff… ‘do one positive thing today’ – that’s only an example. My mates started laughing when they came into the house.
Each to their own. Lads figure out their own positive reinforcement and ways to keep themselves motivated when you’re in a slog, and that was my handy one.”
“Little reminders and things to keep you ticking over, to keep your head in the right space. That’s more of a battle than doing the rehab and stuff. It’s a waiting game then. You just keep working the way you know and hope for the best.”
Thankfully for Healy, he made a full recovery. Two years later he’s back to his best. What a difference a couple of days of reflection can make.