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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019
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Henderson adding the 'nitty-gritty work' to his explosive efforts for Ireland

The 23-year-old lock was superb for Ireland in their defeat to Wales yesterday.

IT’S A NERVOUS day for several Ireland internationals as they wait on word from Joe Schmidt as to whether or not they’ve made his final 31-man squad for the World Cup.

Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson Henderson was in excellent form yesterday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Many will sit anxiously by their phones for the day, but there are others who have afforded themselves a chance to relax. Iain Henderson is one of them, his excellent display against Wales yesterday underlining his importance to Schmidt’s squad.

Not that the Ulsterman will have his feet up for the day. He’s a busy man.

“I’m going to get back up the road,” said Henderson after Ireland’s defeat in Dublin. “I’m moving house, so hopefully I’ll get the car loaded up and get a load of stuff across to the new house.

But it (the World Cup squad) will definitely be on my mind. I tried to put my best performance out today so hopefully the coaches will select me. There’ll be quite a few people disappointed but they’ll go back to their provinces and train hard I’m sure.

“There will be injuries at the World Cup and they’ll bring people out. It always happens.”

Henderson will be one of the names Joe Schmidt reads out on Tuesday afternoon, when Ireland publicly confirm their 31-man group, but the real issue for the 23-year-old is whether he will be part of Ireland’s starting XV for the big games in the World Cup.

Iain Henderson and Paul O'Connell Henderson said it was an honour to play alongside POC for his final home game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He is an intriguing option in the number six shirt, where Ulster have used him most in recent times, but Henderson had a start alongside Paul O’Connell at lock yesterday.

Devin Toner is a pivotal set-piece component in the make-up of Schmidt’s team, brilliant at the nuts and bolts of lock play. Henderson is more famed for his ball-carrying ballast and admits that he’s been working hard to round out his game in the second row.

I think that’s something I can definitely learn from a good few locks around the place, players like Alun Wyn Jones and Paulie, those sorts of players who do the nitty-gritty work,” said Henderson.

“That’s maybe something that I need to work on in my game in terms of coming from the back row, where I’m more of a dynamic, carrying player, whereas I maybe need to get my head stuck in a few more dirtier places.

“I’ll definitely be reviewing my game and working on that for the rest of the season.”

In an overall sense, Henderson looked back on yesterday’s game with some frustration, particularly around Ireland’s uncharacteristically poor discipline.

Iain Henderson Henderson claims lineout ball for Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Craigavon man believes he and his teammates will improve in that area as they get fitter, improved conditioning helping to reduce the mental fatigue that has seen them make poor decisions and paint bad pictures for the referee.

“It was frustrating in the first half, our penalty count,” said Henderson. “We knew that coming towards the end of the first half we have to salvage something to try and claw back a wee bit at half time.

We managed to do that when some great work by the forwards left me with a wee gap to go over for a try.

“We realised at half time that our discipline hadn’t been good enough and we needed to improve on that in the second half, which we didn’t do. The last two Six Nations we’ve pretty much won the Six Nations on being one of the best disciplined teams.

“Against Scotland and today were weren’t as disciplined as we should be. That’s a massive work-on for us.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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