Ireland star opens up on ‘freak’ injury and reveals potential return date

Colin Newboult
James Ryan after suffering injury during the 2024 Six Nations.

Ireland lock James Ryan after suffering injury during the 2024 Six Nations.

Ireland lock James Ryan has revealed the extent of the injury he suffered towards the end of the Six Nations campaign.

The 27-year-old played in the opening three matches of the tournament but missed their final encounters with England and Scotland.

Ryan sustained the issue ahead of the clash with the Red Rose as he ruptured his bicep attempting to grab a team-mate.

Head coach Andy Farrell described it as a ‘freak’ occurrence, with the second-row still on the sidelines six weeks after suffering the injury.

The injury

“We were just playing ‘grab’, and Tom Stewart did me with a dummy, and it just went, I ruptured my bicep,” Ryan told the Irish Independent.

“I could feel it straight away. It was very sore for about four or five seconds, but after that it was fine. It was a bit innocuous, it wasn’t in full contact in the middle of a maul or something.

“If I was watching the ball better defensively, it wouldn’t have happened. I caught myself man-watching, so I can only blame myself.

“There wasn’t much slagging (for the dummy) at that point, but I was in a huge cast for like two weeks. It just made it look way worse than it actually was, so there was a fair bit of slagging for that.

“It was a relief to get that off, even just to have a shower properly.”

Keith Wood: IRFU creating ‘discontent’ with contracting model but don’t blame Leinster for ‘unbalanced system’

Ryan has missed Leinster’s big Champions Cup knockout fixtures against Leicester Tigers and La Rochelle, but he is hopeful of making the semi-final against Northampton Saints in early May.

The lock admits that he is “touch and go” for that clash, but he has been able to maintain his cardiovascular fitness since suffering the injury.

“It happened on the Wednesday; I got the op Thursday morning, which was a good thing because it meant I could start recovery straight away,” he said.

“But I’m grand. The thing about doing your bicep or an upper limb injury is you can stay pretty fit. If you did a knee or a hamstring, you can’t do as much.

“I feel like I am in good shape because I am able to keep running and do a fair bit of strength training.

“I’m not too far away, I’m hoping to get back before the end of the season. That’s pretty realistic. Hopefully I’ll be back before the end of the season, all going well, if we keep winning.”

Massive South Africa series

Even if Ryan fails to make Leinster’s run-in, the second-row has more than enough credit in the bank to be selected for Ireland’s July series against the Springboks.

Although Joe McCarthy’s emergence meant that he was dropped to the bench for two of the three Six Nations games he played in, the 27-year-old is still a very important part of the national team.

Ryan is therefore looking forward to those upcoming clashes with South Africa, as well as his province’s end to the campaign where he will hope to play some part.

“There is still a huge amount of rugby to be played,” he added. “I would say the ultimate test is playing over in South Africa. It will be an amazing experience.

“And then with Leinster, what we have got coming up is hugely exciting. We are exactly where we want to be at his point.”

READ MORE: South Africans snubbed as Ireland and England stars dominate Champions Cup player of the year nominees