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"I had to learn how to breathe again" - Ireland's Sene Naoupu on neck surgery

Ireland women's rugby international Sene Naoupu says she's doing well since having a tumour rem...

Ireland women's rugby international Sene Naoupu says she's doing well since having a tumour removed from her neck earlier this year. 

An "incidental finding" was picked up during a precautionary scan after the Leinster captain sustained a knock in Ireland's loss to England in the Six Nations in late February.

Naoupu says it turned out to be a "blessing in disguise" and that she's had "humbling" support from her Ireland teammates and is now looking forward to completing the tournament next month.

"Honestly, I'm grand," the 36-year-old told Eoin Sheahan on OTB AM while helping to launch Ireland’s fifth National Fitness Day with Active Ireland. "The last five to six months have been an ordeal for everyone really.

"I was fortunate to find something that was non injury related, it was something else that was picked up when I was being checked out after a match.

"It was a precautionary scan, and you always trust and respect the experts. So I met with the experts in Santry and they found something there.

"I was very lucky to have the experts and such a strong support team around me in terms of the Irish rugby medics and the physios and then had the best surgeons to excise something from my neck."

"Everything went to plan so honestly I'm grand, everything went to plan and I'm very conscious that there are many out there perhaps waiting for surgery and maybe in a worse-off position than me.

"There's certainly much worse things than what I went through, everyone has there own wee challenges which they've been going through in recent months whether that's from a physical or mental point of view.

"I'm thinking of those who are waiting to be seen or who are going through their own health problems at the moment and hopefully they can get the support and the help that they need too."

Adam Griggs' Ireland team will also face a playoff competition to qualify for the next World Cup in December and Naoupu admits it's a few key months ahead for the team.

"I've never been more motivated. Obviously our focus is on December and how best we can prepare for that, with the upcoming camps and the two Six Nations games. Please God those three games in December will happen.

"In terms of the recovery, I had to learn to breathe again, to walk and then run and get back into things. That's something I'd like to highlight when it comes to National Fitness Day, success for me three weeks ago was walking as fast as I could for two minutes.

"That was success and then I built up and built up each day to the point where then I was able to jog and then eventually last week I was able to rejoin the group at training.

"But it's all a process, building toward something and anyone who might not be motivated right now, maybe you can find that something to aim for. It could be covering a certain distance of a walking track but find something for you that you can work towards and it'll literally be one foot in front of the other."

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