Foley was Les Kiss' assistant during the tour of America in 2013. Billy Stickland/INPHO
remembering axel

'He was a good friend of my dad and my uncle. It's a tough pill to swallow'

Robbie Henshaw made his Ireland debut against US Eagles when Anthony Foley was part of the coaching team.

A LITTLE OVER a year ago, Anthony Foley was fielding questions about the possibility of bringing Robbie Henshaw to Munster as speculation over the centre’s future intensified.

While Leinster were the odds-on favourites to capture the signature of Henshaw, Foley, as the southern province’s then Director of Rugby, knew what a player of Henshaw’s calibre would bring to his squad.

Foley had played a role in Henshaw’s development after taking him under his wing in his position as Ireland Wolfhounds coach and then as part of Les Kiss’ Ireland coaching staff.

Speaking the day after Foley tragically passed away, Henshaw — still in shock, like so many others — explained the impact the Munster legend had on his career during their brief time working together.

“It’s a tragic loss for Munster and Irish rugby. Axel was a gentleman,” Henshaw said.

“He coached me under the Wolfhounds when we played the Saxons over in Gloucester [January 2014], and he coached me when I got my first cap over in the States.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow, it’s just hard to take. I don’t know, I just couldn’t believe when I heard yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with his friends. It’s a tragedy.

“He was a coach who was straight up. He firmly believed that if you did your job. He was a really good forwards coach and really good ruck coach.

“Defensively, he worked a bit with me on my defence and my first up hits. He was a really good coach and I enjoyed playing under him. He was always calm as well. I only played under him twice but I loved playing under him.

“I remember him helping me when I was kinda smaller, he helped me impose myself physically before the American game and the Canadian game.

“He helped me in terms of my tackle technique and getting my body height right and putting a hole in someone as he used to say I think, putting my shoulder through them. That’s what I remember.

“He was a good friend of my dad and my uncle and it’s a tragic loss. My dad was a big fan of his.”

unnamed Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

Robbie Henshaw along with Sophie Spence was speaking at the launch of the 2016 / 2017 season of Aviva Mini Rugby Festivals. The Aviva Mini Rugby Festivals are taking place throughout the country during the month of October.

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