Henry at Ireland camp in Carton House earlier this month. Inpho/Billy Stickland

'All the players are thinking of him' - Ireland's best wishes to Chris Henry

The openside flanker suffered a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain.

IRELAND ARE UNDERSTANDABLY disappointed to have lost Chris Henry this November, as the flanker recovers from a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain.

The IRFU yesterday confirmed the nature of the issue that saw the Ulsterman ruled out of Ireland’s win over South Africa two weekends ago, and it is expected that Henry will be sidelined for some months as he recuperates.

Speaking at Carton House this afternoon, Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip was conscious of not discussing personal details or behind-the-scenes information, but did share his hope that Henry will be back in action soon.

“It’s never good hearing a player is out,” said Heaslip. “All the players are thinking of him obviously and he’s got the best of everyone around looking out for him. We were just told he was unavailable and we switched it up. Away we went.”

Heaslip did go into more detail on what exactly it is that Ireland will be deprived of in terms of playing skill this weekend against Australia and potentially further into the future.

Playing with Chad [Chris Henry's nickname] and against Chad over the years – we were the same age group coming up – he’s a nightmare to play against.

“Like every good seven, he has that ability in the dark arts to get in there and mess ball up, whether it’s legally or illegally, whatever way you view it.

“He’s a great player, serious work rate, gets through a lot of work on the field that I don’t think he gets enough credit for,” continued Heaslip. “It’s not great having a player like that available for selection; it’s a big loss.”

Rhys Ruddock makes a break with the support of Paul O'Connell Ruddock scored from a maul try against the Boks. Colm O'Neill / INPHO Colm O'Neill / INPHO / INPHO

Rhys Ruddock stepped into Henry’s shoes impressively in the 29-15 success against South Africa, despite not having started too many games in the seven shirt beforehand.

Forwards coach Simon Easterby was enthusiastic about the influence Ruddock had on that encounter, and it appears the Leinster man is set to continue at seven against Michael Cheika’s Australia.

Tommy O’Donnell was excellent at ruck time against Georgia last weekend, and offers another strong option at openside.

Rhys was good, really good,” said Easterby of Ruddock’s display against South Africa.

“Rhys came in and started the game and did really well. He’s a big man, physical and has a great engine on him. He’s fit for any position in that back row probably, but the seven one is something that he’s still learning.

“He’s doing very well at it, he’s training very well at it and it’s a position where we feel we’ve got the likes of Tommy O’Donnell and Dominic Ryan, who both went well at seven and six against Georgia. We’ve got a bit of depth there as well.”

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