Injury changed Munster star Donnacha Ryan’s view of life

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

Munster's Donnacha Ryan, left, and Paul O'Connell pictured during the province's Guinness PRO12 victory over the Dragons at Musgrave Park last weekend
DONNACHA Ryan got used to the constant questions and the quips. As well as the queries over when he would resume playing, a few supporters would ask how the towering second row was ‘enjoying retirement’.

DONNACHA Ryan got used to the constant questions and the quips. As well as the queries over when he would resume playing, a few supporters would ask how the towering second row was ‘enjoying retirement’.

Having been sidelined with Munster for 12 months due to a troublesome foot injury, the public’s curiosity over Ryan’s well-being was understandable.

So did the Shannon clubman and former St Munchin’s College star believe he would return to play again after a troublesome sesamoid injury?

Ryan revealed this week: “Yeah, lads (reporters) I am not getting dramatic here, I know you can build it up and that is the last thing I want.

“One thing I did have to learn is massive perspective, asking simple questions like what makes you happy and be grateful for what you have. That is basically how you do it from my point of view, anyway.

“I went into the gym after I started coming back having gotten my sesamoid (bone in foot) taken out. Ironically enough there was a guy in there who was training for the Paralympics and he had no use of his legs, so I was happy to have my feet. But yeah, certainly there is ups and downs, but like I said, you can kinda focus on what you got and that is basically it.

“I couldn’t give anyone a certain time to adhere to (for an expected return to playing). That is the nooks and crannies of it. When people come up to you and start saying; ‘How are you enjoying retirement’, they were the sort of questions you are dealing with. That’s the reality. It is a difficult tightrope you are walking in that situation. You don’t know what the future holds.

“All you can do is focus on what you can control. What I did was focus on what I could in a sense, kept training as much as I could, start again from being able to walk and then from an academic point of view, go back and study geology, met with a mentor, got some work experience with Canaccord Genuity.

“Caroline Keeling is another mentor of mine with Keelings. That was fantastic, just to get direction.

“It would be useless energy to have if you were sitting at home wallowing and listening to questions, questions on your future, something you don’t know what’s going to happen really with.

“Certa-inly turning on the TV on a Saturday and watching the lads play is something obviously quite frustrating, but as I said, it is about focusing on what you can control and that is what I have been doing really.”

Ryan pinpoints April 5 this year as the date he believed he would return to play competitive rugby having spent a year on the sidelines.

Ryan said: “April 5, that’s basically it, recently enough, chatting to physios, seeing how things were going to go, things hanging on edge, made a decision and that’s what happened.

“The lads (Munster players) have done a fantastic job throughout the season, obviously the way the league is structured now, it’s a lot more competitive, the games are more intense.

“Teams have a lot more to play for at the latter end of the year and I think you only have to look at the first game of the season when we lost to Edinburgh and then just showed after that how important every game was, it’s great to have got to a situation where we are and it is great to have the momentum in the last number of games as well.”

Ryan is anxious to play down any talk of him being involved in Joe Schmidt’s World Cup squad. It’s still day by day as far as he’s concerned.

Ryan said: “I’m training tomorrow and that’s about it. I just have to manage my situation and see how I pull up each day. It’s all about the moment. It might make for a nice piece but every step I take now. There is still a big scar in the middle of my foot and I have to keep everything in perspective.

“I need to make sure I recover before- training on Thursday. For me, it’s focusing on my own thing. I was miles off the pace, I couldn’t really walk and I was in the boots for the bones of eight months, out for 13 months altogether. So it’s about re-programming everything again.”