‘Cian’s character is incredible’ – Dempsey on Healy ahead of prop’s return from injury

AFTER FIVE MONTHS on the sidelines, Cian Healy returns to competitive rugby tonight and Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey is expecting the loosehead prop to hit the ground running at the RDS (kick-off 7.35pm).

The first assignment of the 2016/17 Pro12 season for Leo Cullen’s charges, a home tie against last year’s bottom side Benetton Treviso, appears to be an ideal opener.

But with a lengthy injury list to contend with and visitors who will be desperate to impress their new coach Kieran Crowley, tonight’s clash may not be as straightforward as some expect.

Dempsey was keen to focus on the positives though, and a major plus for the Leinster management team is having the experienced trio of Rob Kearney, Mike McCarthy and Cian Healy available for selection after their respective injury issues.

Healy has spent his fair share of time with the club’s medical staff this year; knee and neck injuries have kept him out of action for Leinster and Ireland since April.

But after seeing him come through last weekend’s pre-season friendly against English Premiership side Bath unscathed, Dempsey is confident Healy will impress when he takes to the RDS turf tonight.

“Cian had a good hit-out against Bath in Donnybrook the other night; we were very pleased with how he came through the game,” Dempsey said.

“He’s been chomping at the bit for a while now.

“He was delighted to get back on the field and I thought he performed really well.

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“He got his hands on the ball a number of times and had some good carries. We’re just delighted to have him back.”

Dempsey was also quick to praise Healy’s mental strength, having seen the work the 28-year-old put in to get himself fit for competitive rugby again.

Cian Healy in training with Leinster this week. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“Cian’s character is incredible. His mental strength is unbelievable. He just loves the game,” Dempsey added.

“He’s had setbacks through injury but he’s come through the other side, he’s worked really hard and he’s in great shape now.

“He’s itching to put the Leinster jersey on and play.”

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