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'We have what it takes to turn England over and put them to the sword'

Despite losing yet again to England, Iain Henderson believes Ireland can end that run at the Aviva in next year’s Six Nations.

Irish players dejected after today's defeat.
Irish players dejected after today's defeat.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

FOUR DEFEATS IN a row now. It is an unwelcome statistic, dating back to February 2019, including a pre-World Cup thumping and now a second successive loss at Twickenham. To say England have Ireland’s measure is the understatement of the month. 

Yet nothing lasts forever, Iain Henderson believes.

In a sense players are programmed to think that way, to accentuate the positives. But there was genuine conviction in the Ulsterman’s voice when he stated that when 2021 arrives, Ireland, finally, will beat England at the Aviva.

I do feel that we have what it takes to turn them over, we have what it takes to put them to the sword, exploit their weakness and show them what we have got,” said Henderson.

“Yes, the pre-World Cup game is something that sits in the back of the mind for those players who were there for that loss.

“But I can guarantee you that the next time we come up against England that we will be using (the statistic of four straight losses to them) to make sure we can drive home the best performance possible.”

He intends to be a central part of that mission, arguing that the difference between the sides is not so much physical as psychological.

“One of the main things we need is a bit of confidence in ourselves, to back ourselves not to make those unforced errors, to back ourselves to be physical enough to win those collisions. I have seen players in our squad do it week in and week out for the provinces against the same English players.

“So, I do think a lot of it comes down to the confidence to do it in a green jersey and not just in a provincial one.”

Other issues remain, namely the line-out which malfunctioned today. Henderson, however, insists that starting hooker Ronan Kelleher should be exonerated of blame, explaining that the set-piece is a collective effort.

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maro-itoje-competes-in-a-line-out-with-iain-henderson Henderson competes with Itoje in the line-out. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Yes, it is far too simplistic – in fact personally, I think it would be a wrong statement to say it was all on the hooker,” said Henderson. “When things go wrong in the line-out, it is easy to point the finger at one person.

“People can say ‘flip he had a terrible day at the office’ but that would be unfair because so many elements come into it. It can be about the timing of the jump, it can be about a mislift. We will understand this a lot better when we review it. We won’t point fingers at anyone but guys will stand up and take responsibility for things they got wrong. We will be able to sort those out as we move forward as a team.”

If supporters are frustrated, he can understand that. Still, Henderson also feels tomorrow will be a better day. This team, he insists, can improve.

“That England side have defended a fair bit together, a lot of those players have won a fair few caps together and that is a very general summation of what I think went wrong today,” he said.

“They are a good defensive team. That is a given. As a pack we are relatively fresh together, we have had a lot of new combinations coming together, new guys coming in to fit into the system. Those two factors combined gave us the result today.

“I don’t think we have anything to worry about. We just need to get some fix-ups, get some more time together and hopefully those creases can get ironed out – not only in attack but in defence as well.”

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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