Search icon


28th Jun 2018

John Cooney’s summer work-out admission shows Irish rugby players have no real off-season

Patrick McCarry

Ireland’s top rugby players will only get four weeks off before they return to their provinces for 2018/19.

While the likes of Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton, Jacob Stockdale & Co. are setting off on summer breaks, after the series win over Australia, the provinces are already back at it.

2017/18 wrapped up, for Ireland, Down Under but we were already getting in snaps of 2018/19 pre-season training – Marty Moore getting put through his paces at Ulster, Jared Payne wearing the coach’s bib and the Leinster lads sporting fresh adidas clobber while training out at their UCD headquarters.

Ulster and Ireland scrum-half John Cooney joined The Hard Yards en-route to Koh Samui and revealed his summer work-out plans [from 1:40 below]. It proves there is hardly such thing as an OFF-season in rugby.

“It’s something you have to remember,” Andy McGeady noted. “When you commit to being a rugby player, it is an 11-month existence.”

Cooney can definitely relate to that comment. “I’m back on the 24th of July so, for me, it’s four weeks exactly.

“I’m here [in Thailand] for three and a half weeks so I’m sure, one or two weeks into it, I will start doing a bit of running and a few gym sessions. I’m pretty competitive, so I don’t want to go home and do badly in the fitness tests.

“I like to come out on top of them so I’m already getting prepared for that. It’s a fine line between letting the body recover [and exercising hard], because I find sometimes that you can feel real fit but your body feels weak and you might struggle that way. It’s about finding the happy medium between the body feeling good and the lungs feeling likewise.

“I’ll enjoy myself and have a bit of food and a lot of drink, hopefully. You’ve got to enjoy yourself while you can.”

The Ireland players who racked up the most international minutes, last season, may well be afforded an extra week of down-time [returning in early August] but, as Cooney will attest to, they won’t have too much catching up to do once they get back to their provinces.

Former Munster and Ireland centre James Downey can relate to Cooney’s short summer window of rest and relaxation. “It’s five weeks mandatory [rest] in the UK, but it depends what stage you are at in your career,” he began.

“If you’re a young man, you may be off galavanting and having a couple of pints. If you’re with the girlfriend, it may be tame enough or a mix of both.

“Now, this summer, I’ve got to go to a stag and a wedding in the space of a week as someone [a player] has to get back to pre-season soon. There’s a lot going on and players miss out on stuff but it’s something you have to live with.”

WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?