'Bloody dangerous': Ireland veteran's big warning ahead of England clash
SPOTLIGHT: Ireland may be hot favourites to beat England and seal the Six Nations Grand Slam this weekend but veteran prop Cian Healy said on Tuesday their opponents were “bloody dangerous” despite a record 10-53 defeat to France.
The 35-year-old won plaudits for winning his 122nd cap in the unusual position of hooker in the 22-7 win over Scotland last Sunday.
Healy, a four-time Champions Cup winner with Leinster, has enjoyed some good days against England, notably as a key player in the 2018 victory at Twickenham which secured the Grand Slam.
“They’re bloody dangerous and have very good players,” Healy told reporters before Saturday’s game in Dublin.
Healy, fondly known as ‘Church’ due to his time spinning discs in nightclubs as DJ Church, said he expects England to come out firing on all cylinders in a bid to restore some lustre after last Saturday’s French rout.
“You expect a bounceback,” he said.
“England rugby is very strong historically. They have a very strong pack. We’re not going to look at that game and go, ‘oh yeah that’s going to happen for us’.
“That would be silly of us. We’ll treat them with the historical respect we treat that pack with.”
💭 “To play for Ireland, in Dublin, with family and friends there is what drives everyone to reach the standard we’re shooting for.”
Watch more from today’s Press Conference with Cian Healy ⬇️#TeamOfUs | #GuinnessSixNations
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 14, 2023
Healy, who is used these days by head coach Andy Farrell as a finisher coming off the bench, said the squad and the coaches would do deep research on England.
“We’ll review this properly, and you don’t just look at their last game, you look at their season, their players, and their club games,” he said.
“You go through everything.
“At the same time there’s going to be a lot of focus on ourselves and where we can draw more from ourselves in particular areas of the game.”
Healy will not be the only player from the 2018 Grand Slam vintage on the field on Saturday, his long-time Leinster teammate and talismanic Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton is also set to feature at Lansdowne Road.
“Johnny has his own standards and all of us strive to get to those standards and we get absolutely torn into when we don’t, but we try,” he said.
“Johnny’s standard is so high and it has been for so long that it just drives something special in him.
“He deserves all the accolades he gets because he’s a fierce competitor, an unbelievable professional.”
Sexton, 37, is level with former Test teammate Ronan O’Gara as the Six Nations’ record points scorer on 557.
“He could take the points tally and someone down the line will take it off him,” said Healy.
“But if he takes a victory at the weekend, no one will ever take it off him and it’s something that belongs to him and a special group.
“That’s the sort of thing that’s going to drive Johnny. He lives for that successful feeling after a game.
“But I think he’s very aware that team success is the most important thing to him.”
Healy grinned when reflecting on his surprise star turn as a hooker against Scotland saying the last time he had a proper run out in the position was in 2008.
Both hookers Dan Sheehan and Ronan Kelleher were injured during the match with Healy replacing the latter in the 48th minute.
“I went into the middle of two of the best props [Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter] in the world, so I’m in a relatively good starting place,” he said.
“Just give it a lash, have a shot, nothing to lose. I don’t mind if someone lifted me up out of the middle of a scrum, I can take that, but we ended up with 15 men on the field, when we could have been with 14.
“That’s the greater cause.”