After sitting out almost the whole of his first year as an Osprey through injury, second-row Conor McInerney is determined to make up for lost time in the coming season.
The 23-year old Irishman signed for the region last summer from Leinster, but was unable to make an impact in an Ospreys as a combination of knee and hamstring problems restricted him to just the one brief outing as a replacement during February’s LV= Cup win over Leeds Carnegie at the Liberty Stadium.
Now up and running again, the age-grade cap says that he’ll be out to prove a point in the coming months.
“I think you could probably say that” he said. “I’m pretty hungry to just get onto the rugby pitch more than anything. I’ve being doing a bit by myself over the summer to make sure I’m right for the first day, which went pretty well, then I came back a week early to work with the physios to make sure everything was ticking over right.
“I’m really looking forward to the next couple of weeks now and just getting involved. All going well it’s going to be just about the first time in a year that I’ve been able to spend any real time in a team environment, playing a full part and not being pulled out all the time. I suppose it’s a fresh start for me more than anything.”
Having arrived in Ospreylia last summer aiming to challenge some of the more established locks in the squad, McInerney found himself spending long periods with only the medical team for company, but he refuses to dwell on his misfortune, looking only to the 2010/11 campaign. He continued:
“It was a hugely frustrating year, but to be honest, I’ve parked that up now and moved on. It’s all in the past and I’m just looking forward now. I want to put in a good pre-season and hopefully I’ll get my chance to see what I can do.
“I’m feeling as fit as I’ve felt in a long time, I’m feeling very good and just looking forward to getting stuck in to it and working hard. Last year was about working hard, but away from the team environment, it was very much a test of my own belief, working with the physios day-to-day for long periods, which can be very hard.
“I’ll see how I go the next few days mind, I could fall apart as I’m not used to pushing myself so far as I’ll have to pre-season! So far, so good though, and like I said, I’m feeling great and I really want to enjoy being on the rugby pitch again.”
With his injury woes now hopefully behind him, McInerney says he is now itching to make a name for himself ahead of the new season:
“It’s going to be about building myself up over the next few weeks now. The physios have cleared me to get involved, they’ve said that the problems I had last year are behind me so there shouldn’t be anything stopping me getting out there and working towards the start of the season with confidence.
“I’m feeling better than I have in a long time, so I want to aim for the first pre-season game in a month or so and get some game-time to my name, show the coaches that I’m fit again and hopefully put down a marker for the new season.”