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'He's turned into the enforcer': Hard-hitting Henderson raised everyone around him, says Toner

The powerful Ulster lock dominated his opposite number Eben Etzebeth in a telling collision.

OF THE SEVEN solid carries brought to the table by Iain Henderson against South Africa yesterday, one in particular will stand out far above others and take a central place in his career highlight reel.

The 25-year-old’s explosive 23rd minute carry into and over Eben Etzebeth firmly put the Springbok skipper on his arse and underlined a dominance that ultimately set the home side on the way to a 35-point win.

“It’s amazing,” says Henderson’s engine room partner Devin Toner thinking back to the lift the Ulsterman’s rampage gave to the rest of the men in grey.

“Especially when you have someone who is the talisman like Etzebeth, he’s their captain, he’s renowned for being the physical man on the pitch.

When you see Hendy stand up to him and get the better of him, it’s brilliant and gives your team a real gee-up.”

In addition to sitting the opposition captain firmly down, Henderson helped to ensure a solid 12/13 line-out showing and contributed five tackles to a suffocating Irish defensive effort.

“Hendy’s a special player,” adds Toner,” I’ve known him and played alongside him for a good few years now, and he’s just a special player.

Monster

“I think he’s evolved his game, he’s a line-out caller these days as well. So I’ll keep looking over my shoulder now to make sure he’s not nicking my spot. But he gives confidence to the guys around him.

“You know he’s going to get over the gainline, you know he’s going to smash them in the tackle. So I think when players give confidence to those around them, it’s a huge positive.

“He’s turned into the enforcer he always had the potential to become.

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Lood de Jager pulls Iain Henderson's jersey Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“When he was coming through we didn’t call him man-child for nothing, He’s a monster in the gym and a monster on the pitch.”

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