'I looked up and the side of my face dropped. I had lost all of my speech'
Ulster back row Chris Henry gives a fascinating interview about the loss of loved ones, a major health scare and why he feels ‘very lucky’.

Chris Henry Presseye / Stephen Hamilton/INPHO Henry training with Ulster. Presseye / Stephen Hamilton/INPHO / Stephen Hamilton/INPHO

“I JUST FEEL very lucky that I can still do what I love and play.”

In a new interview, Ulster’s Chris Henry looks back on what he describes as a “lovely upbringing”, getting introduced to rugby, attending Wallace High School and initially having to be patient for his chance with the province.

He also opens up about the loss of his father in May 2010 and dealing with the untimely death of Ulster team-mate Nevin Spence two years later.

“Losing Nevin, a team-mate and good friend, like that is still hard to comprehend and get your head around,” Henry admits.

It’s something that just shouldn’t have happened. He was a fantastic young man, but in a selfish way it helped me come to terms with my own father. It’s something I’ll never be able to understand.”

Capped 24 times for Ireland, there were enormous highs such as winning the Six Nations with Ireland in 2014. Alongside those, however, the 33-year-old has had to deal with some major setbacks.

“I suffered a mini-stroke the morning of an Ireland Test match against South Africa in November 2014,” he explains. “It was one of the biggest shocks to my life.

“The morning of the match I woke up feeling really, really good and ready to get stuck into a big Test match in Dublin. I went into the bathroom, put water on my face, and the left-hand side of my arm fell to the sink.

I looked up and the side of my face dropped. I had lost all of my speech.”

Luckily, his room-mate Rhys Ruddock called the doctors right away and they acted quickly with the right treatment.

It was discovered that he had a hole in his heart but, remarkably, Henry was able to return to rugby in a short space of time.

Ulster Rugby / YouTube

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