JERRY STILL A PACEMAKER; RUGBY COUNTDOWN TO WORLD CUP Flannery out to Prove He Can Go Distance

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Byline: MICHAEL SCULLY

SIX months ago Jerry Flannery thought his career had come to an end - shot to pieces by a litany of injury problems.

But now with renewed hope, he wants to show Declan Kidney that he deserves to be on Ireland's World Cup plane to New Zealand.

Flannery said: "I've been playing for Declan a long time so he knows what I can do.

"It's whether I can stay fit, play games during the summer series and perform well.

"There's a lot of competition at hooker, I'm aware of that, I just want to get a chance to push my case once I get on the field."

By the turn of this year, the Munster hooker hadn't played a full 80 minutes since Munster crashed out of the Heineken Cup semi-finals against Biarritz.

That match was in April of last year. After a host of set-backs, he hurt his right calf after coming on against Ulster on New Year's Day.

That was put down as a fluke, but following his selection for the Six Nations squad he tore the left calf again in training just before the France game.

"I couldn't see any light there," said the 32-year-old.

"It was quite bleak for a couple of weeks - I wasn't sure what other options I had."

Flannery is the comeback kid of Irish rugby, but those comebacks have been short-lived.

He prays that the events of February prove to be the tipping point. Pessimism was setting in but then it was decided that Flannery should be checked for compartment syndrome.

"It tested positive," said the Limerick native, who had bits of his calf cut out in a bid to get to the root of his problems.

"I was surprised, but I underwent the procedure and at least at the back of my mind there's been a definite physical intervention into what my injury has been. …