RUGBY : Ireland prop John Hayes has been told to act as a minder to Test debutant Cian Healy – the player he left bloodied in a brutal stamping incident last month.
Ireland prop John Hayes has been told to act as a minder to Test debutant Cian Healy – the player he left bloodied in a brutal stamping incident last month.
Hayes will take his customary position at tighthead for Sunday’s autumn opener against Australia, just one week after completing a five-week suspension for raking his studs down Healy’s face. The offence occurred in Munster’s 30-0 drubbing by Leinster on October 3, Hayes receiving a red card for the assault on Healy as he lay exposed at the bottom of a maul.
“One of the great ironies of sporting life is that John took a sabbatical for a few weeks and now he’s in to mind Cian!” said Ireland’s head coach Declan Kidney.
“Cian has looked good all season. I wish Marcus well, but the two of them would have been battling for the position.
“Marcus’ injury made the decision easier, but Cian had been playing well and merits selection in his own right.”
Healy has developed into a fine scrummager and shifts his 17-and-a-half-stone frame around the pitch surprisingly quickly, contributing to his growing reputation as a powerful ball carrier.
Ireland, desperate to unearth some cover for the long-serving Hayes-Horan axis, will examine his debut closely – and Healy is determined to seize his chance.
“It’s a dream come true – it’s what I’ve wanted since I’ve been a child. It will be a special and unbelievable experience,” he said.
“I was hoping for this but I didn’t expect it to happen. It was just a case of trying my hardest for Leinster and seeing what happened.
“I’ve been told to play as myself and not to try and do anything I’m not comfortable with. I’ll be nervous, but it’s more ‘enjoyable’ nerves. It will be a tough few days, trying to sleep.”