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Henshaw hungry for Ireland return after coming through 'sleepless nights'

The 26-year-old hasn’t featured at the World Cup yet.

THERE WAS NO room for carrying injured players at a World Cup, we had been told.

“Especially in World Cups, because you only have 31 players,” said Ireland captain Rory Best just last week.

“You can’t afford to hang on to somebody and hope they will be alright in a week or two. You don’t have that luxury of time.”

However, Robbie Henshaw’s importance to Ireland has been underlined by the fact that he was unavailable for their first three games in Japan due to a hamstring injury but remained part of their 31-man squad nonetheless.

robbie-henshaw Henshaw is set to return for Ireland on Saturday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Joe Schmidt head coach underlined Henshaw’s experience, World Cup pedigree, and the fact that he is respected within the group as reasons Ireland were happy to wait on him.

This weekend, Schmidt will hope to begin reaping the reward with Henshaw set to make his return from that injury in Saturday’s final pool game against Samoa.

With Ireland requiring a bonus-point win to advance into the quarter-finals, Henshaw will be planning on getting straight back up to speed having played just 80 minutes of rugby since 25 May in the Pro14 final.

“I have to say, it has been tough sitting in the stands watching the games,” said Henshaw of missing the Scotland, Japan and Russia games.

“I’m chomping at the bit really to get out and help the lads. It’s exciting for me.”

Henshaw injured his hamstring in Ireland’s very first training session after arriving in Japan and there was widespread concern that his World Cup could be over before it even started.

That initial worry was followed by further nervy times in recent weeks as Henshaw stressed over getting back as soon as possible.

“It was a bit of a scare at the time, just a small tweak in the hammy. I had a previous injury there, that’s why there was concern over it.

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irelands-joey-carbery-before-being-replaced-in-the-squad-by-conor-murray-with-robbie-henshaw Henshaw with Joey Carbery before the Russia game. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“But when we had the scan, it actually wasn’t too bad, so that gave us the confidence to make sure I could turn it around in a couple of weeks.

“It’s intense because you are working against the clock. I had a few days to get myself back on my feet and get moving. There is no real time to sit around and keep the head down.

“It’s tough because you need to hit markers on certain days and thankfully that has been the case. That’s one positive.

“There were a few sleepless nights, just over-thinking things – the ifs and buts – but once you see yourself improving and hitting those targets that you put down, that gives you the reassurance that you are coming good.”

While most of Henshaw’s team-mates had the full weekend off after arriving in Fukuoka on Friday, he had sessions on Friday and Saturday in order to keep his hamstring rehab ticking over.

There was a visit to the local beach for some surfing but Henshaw has otherwise been staying in rugby mode, desperate as he is to make an impact this weekend.

Henshaw felt Ireland had made an excellent start to the World Cup against Scotland before their “minor blip” versus Japan. He recognises the frustration from team-mates at the handling errors against Russia last time out, pointing to the difficulty of the conditions.

His focus now, however, is on understanding how best to take on the Samoans.

“I thought they were pretty physical, they were pretty physical up front and they have some good boys out wide,” said Henshaw of his impression so far.

robbie-henshaw Henshaw is hungry to get back on the pitch. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Tim Nanai-Williams is a sharp player and their wingers look pretty sharp as well.

“If you run straight at them, you’ll be hit and hit hard. I know they fly into tackles. I think you have to be smart in how you play. As we saw against Scotland, I think Stuart Hogg was pinning the corners a nice bit, just turning them around so there could be a bit of space in the backfield.

“That could be a way, I suppose, to break it up a bit and just nail our basics as well. If we hold the ball and nail our breakdown, we can break them down.” 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Fukuoka

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