Cian Healy has never been a man to use 10 words where one will do so it was hardly a surprise when he declined to elaborate on the content of the hate mail letter he received at Ireland’s Carton House base last month.
The missive in question had been penned and posted in the wake of the prop’s successful appeal against the length of the ban imposed for his stamp on Dan Cole in the Six Nations defeat to England but it was a wasted tirade.
The Leinster loosehead merely scanned the first “violent” line before handing it over to team manager Mick Kearney for disposal and yet there were other dissenting, if less abusive, comments made at the time of the incident and in the wake of his second hearing with the tournament’s judiciary. That the reduced absence frees him up to face France this weekend is an undoubted bonus for Ireland and a beleaguered Declan Kidney but, whatever way you cut it, a one-game ban for such an offence is hardly proportionate and sheds further light on the need to impose match-specific sentences.
Healy will hardly care much about that, nor does he give a hoot about whatever moron thought fit to send such an abusive letter to Kildare, but some of the fallout has given him pause for thought.
“I back myself to be a hard physical player, pretty annoying to play against, but when people are saying ‘dirty’ to me and all that, like, I was thinking ‘Jesus’, I was taken down a few pegs.”
Penance involved a week of full duties on the training paddock and in team meetings, all for a game in which he would play no part, and it was compounded by the fact he had to sit helpless through the defeat to the Scots.
“Yeah, that was a disaster,” he admits. “The whole lot of it. That whole week I spent getting flogged in fitness and sitting through selection meetings and sitting down on the couch ready to watch the game. I didn’t really like that much.”
The thing is, he had no inkling that any of that was imminent when he trudged off the pitch after a 75-minute shift against England in which his aggression had strayed beyond the acceptable norms on more than just the one occasion. The stamp itself had gone unpunished by the match officials and it was only when he looked at his phone once back in the changing-room, and read the reams of “heavy messages”, that the first hint of trouble dawned.
One look at the DVD and he knew he had erred.
“It was bad, I was gutted looking over it because it wouldn’t be how I play. It was just a case of not doing what I’m meant to do right and that can result in being off-fire and not being very professional.”
Healy has been sin binned just four times for Leinster in well over 100 appearances and only once for Ireland and that transgression against France in 2010 remains the last time he has been ordered from the field by a referee.
He is eager to move on now and hopeful Cole holds no grudges. Healy was the victim of a high-profile stamp not so long ago when John Hayes was the unlikely perpetrator and he never held it against the man from Bruff.
As it is, an apology has yet to be forwarded to Cole but Healy is hoping to see to that in the summer. If he gets the chance it will mean he has been selected to tour Australia with the British and Irish Lions and he doesn’t believe the incident will stand against him when the party is decided.
“No. I’ve got a lot of games left in this season and I’ll back myself to keep performing and performing to a good level,” he reasoned. “If something comes off the back of that it does, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.”
The road to redemption and a red jersey begins this weekend when Nicolas Mas, France’s feared tight head, will demand that Healy rediscovers the perfect blend of aggression and control that deserted him last month.
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