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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019
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Robbie Henshaw could step in and do the job for Ireland – Connacht coach

The Australian, who has coached James O’Connor and Leigh Halfpenny, knows a thing or two about hyped fullbacks.

Robbie Henshaw in action against Harlequins.
Robbie Henshaw in action against Harlequins.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

CONNACHT’S BACKS COACH Billy Millard believes 19-year-old fullback Robbie Henshaw would ‘do the job’ for Ireland if he got the call for the November Series.

The Australian, who had coaching spells with Melbourne Rebels and Cardiff Blues, is in no both about Henshaw’s temperament but is eager for the hype around the teenager to settle.

Henshaw stepped up as starting fullback after captain Gavin Duffy’s injury in early September and has now featured in seven Pro12 games as well as European outings against Zebre and Harlequins.

With Rob Kearney out injured and Declan Kidney left with a choice of players out of position, form and match practice, the Westmeath native’s name has been thrown in the mix.

He told TheScore.ie, “I come from a coaching background where I’ve had James O’Connor playing for me at 17 and at Cardiff we had Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton coming through at an early age.

“He’s not quite there yet. Everyone should slow down and let him settle.

“He is going to get there if he keeps working hard. I’d say (he should) play some Pro12 and Heineken Cup and let him get on with it. Time is on his side.”

Under-awed

Millard feels Henshaw has been asked to take on a ‘huge load, mentally and physically’ in the past three months but he echoed the sentiments of head coach Eric Elwood when he predicted a call-up to the national side. Millard said:

He could step in and do the job because he’s a tough kid. He’s very physical and very under-awed by it all.

“I was watching him run out before the Leinster game (in September) and he looked like he was going out for a kickabout with his brothers.”

The backs coach added, “It’ll happen but it’s best to just let it happen naturally.”

Henshaw and Connacht take on Treviso at the Sportsground from 5pm on Saturday. The game will not be broadcast live so the province is encouraging supporters to get along and support the team.

Pro12: Connacht expect international quartet to feature against Treviso

Munster’s Denis Hurley drafted into Ireland squad as fullback cover

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Patrick McCarry

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