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Henshaw looking forward to the physical aspect of facing France

The 22-year-old centre was impressive on his tournament debut.
Oct 5th 2015, 6:00 AM 6,228 0

Murray Kinsella reports from Olympic Park

ROBBIE HENSHAW HAS had to be patient at this World Cup, but when his debut finally came yesterday the Connacht man didn’t take long to make an impact.

Accepting a well-disguised pass from out-half Johnny Sexton on a dummy switch switch play, the 22-year-old powered past the despairing diving tackle attempt of Simon Favaro, accepted the contact of Leonardo Sarto and offloaded deftly to Keith Earls.

Robbie Henshaw offloads Henshaw was one of Ireland's better performers. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

As well as the try assist, there was some typically impactful carrying from Henshaw and a big tackle count too.

After his recent hamstring strain, which kept the centre out of the wins over Canada and Romania, it was a pleasure for him to be back on the pitch.

“It was nice,” said Henshaw afterwards. “Tough on the lungs in the first half and a bit of a wake-up call because it was four weeks since my last 80. It was a bit of a slog through the game.

I thought it was a different type of game. It was a lot of turnover ball and we didn’t really get going. I was happy to get through in the end.”

80 minutes under the belt before what looks like being a very physical challenge against France in Cardiff next weekend, ideal. Henshaw will be a crucial figure against France’s excellent midfield of Wesley Fofana and Mathieu Bastareaud.

The hope is that his regular partner, Jared Payne, is fully fit again. The lack of a run together more recently isn’t something that bothers Henshaw.

“Ah, we will be fine, I know Jared really well now,” said Henshaw. “We have played a lot of games together in November and the Six Nations. It’s just about getting together, having a look at a bit of vision and getting together on the pitch.

“If he slots in next week I’ll be good to go with him. I know him inside out.”

Robbie Henshaw offloads to Keith Earls Henshaw offloads to Earls for the Ireland try. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It was Keith Earls who lined up alongside Henshaw in the midfield yesterday against the Italians, the Munster man having spent more time on the wing recently.

The new Ireland pairing was strong on their first outing together and Henshaw was happy with the communication coming his way.

“He showed a lovely line inside in support for the offload so he was really sharp and he was good chat in my ear as well,” said Henshaw. “There were no issues and he is a great fella to have in the centre.”

Onwards towards the French and with an expectation of a better performance. Henshaw was sharp on his World Cup debut, but you sense that there’s more to come.

“I’m excited. I look forward to the physical aspect of it and France will be another step up. That challenge against Italy is just what we needed to waken us up for the game next week.”

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Murray Kinsella


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