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Dublin: 15 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019
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'I definitely feel like one of the older heads': Henshaw evolving as a player at Leinster

After switching Galway for Dublin, the Ireland centre explains how his role on the pitch has changed at Leinster.

Henshaw was speaking at Canterbury's Ultimate Farm Challenge during the week.
Henshaw was speaking at Canterbury's Ultimate Farm Challenge during the week.

HOW ROBBIE HENSHAW would dearly love to be lining-out against his former team-mates at the RDS this afternoon, although he’s not the kind to get worked up about these things.

The Ireland international has to settle for a watching brief later as his new club take on his old one in a repeat of last year’s Guinness Pro12 final.

On that occasion, Henshaw was in Connacht colours, spearheading their charge to the most unlikely of title victories. These days, of course, he’s in the blue of Leinster, and fitting in rather nicely.

So the prospect of a reunion with his former employers tonight was a rather appealing one for everyone involved but it became clear early in the week that the powers above would deny us that subplot tonight.

Having played on three consecutive weekends after an injury layoff, it’s understandable that Henshaw has been told to sit this one out; even if it proves to be difficult to watch from the stands.

“It was obviously one of the games I was looking forward to playing,” he tells The42.

“I’ll get to face Connacht again hopefully towards the end of the year. There’s the second fixture in the league but it is what it is and you obviously have to be selfish and look after yourself for the following week which is international duty.”

Robbie Henshaw after the game Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Henshaw isn’t the only player to miss out on the second set of interpro games of the season. With the first Test of a busy November schedule a week away, the IRFU have run the rule over selection and held the likes of Henshaw, Heaslip and Sexton back.

It means Leinster will have a new midfield pairing this evening with the Henshaw-Garry Ringrose partnership disrupted for the first time since the victory over Munster.

After making his much-anticipated debut for the eastern province in that game, Henshaw has returned to full match fitness and sharpness and showed glimpses of his devastating best.

“It’s good, the body is good,” he continued. “After the first game now it was pretty sore. The reintroduction into the physical aspect of the game so the body was a bit sore after the first game but it’s certainly fine now and I’m definitely used to being back.

“I’m loving being back on the pitch, it can be very frustrating when you’re watching from the outside in.

“Life at Leinster has met my expectations and more; the standard of players and the standard of coaching up there is top class, the facilities are top class and I’m just enjoying being involved in a high performance team that we’re getting great results as well.

“I think we the addition of Stuart Lancaster there has had a great impact on the squad. I think we’re definitely going in the right direction. We’ve got a solid team there and great variety in terms of players who can come in when the international window is on. There are guys who can step up and take on those roles while the other guys are gone.

“It’s definitely heading in the right direction. We’ve a strong base there and a strong core group. I don’t know what the mood was like last year or the last few years, but definitely the lads seem like they’re driven. We know what we want and it’s definitely all positive.

“There’s a core group of lads who are driving it. It’s not all just from the coaches but from a core group of guys in the squad as well.”

Leinster’s Garry Ringrose is tackled by Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Henshaw’s switch east was made all the more easier by his links with the Leinster players from international duty. While he was walking into a new dressing room, the Athlone native had the luxury of having familiar faces everywhere to help him settle in to the environment.

One of the primary factors behind his reason to switch provinces was the opportunity to progress and develop further as a player. It’s still early days yet, but Henshaw believes he is maturing and has seen his role change somewhat in a relatively young Leinster outfit.

“I’ve only played three games for the province so there’s still a bit of growing to do in terms of playing, getting experience and getting my voice to be heard,” the 23-year-old admots.

“That’ll be more ongoing as the season goes on. I would say I am one of the leaders in the pack. I can’t talk a whole lot in terms of the team, I like to show my leadership through action, how I play on the pitch and how I train.

“I definitely feel like one of the older guys in that I can help the younger guys coming up, because I’ve been through that path and I’ve had that bit of experience coming up.

“I’ve matured definitely in the last couple of seasons, just my experience on the international stage. It definitely has matured me as a player and being involved in a young back line as well I feel like I’m one of the older heads there.

“It’s great to have that and help the guys if they want to bounce things off me and I can give them some feedback or need any tips.”

JCE30216 Source: Inpho

While he may not be involved in a playing capacity this evening, Henshaw will have been useful for Leo Cullen this week in preparing to nullify the threat Pat Lam’s side possess.

The westerners have won the last two meetings between the provinces, but have yet to come away from the RDS with a victory.

“They’ve been playing really good rugby, they run the ball a lot,” Henshaw says. “We’ll need to be quick off the line to stop that.

“Jack Carty had a really good game last week, Craig Ronaldson is playing well and Bundee Aki is their big threat in midfield. Around the board we need to be aware and clued in and we need to be at our best to take them.”

Canterbury ambassador Robbie Henshaw was speaking at the Ultimate Farm Challenge at Abbeyfield Farm. Competition winners were selected to take part on the day and they were kitted out with Canterbury training wear which includes all the latest technology which can be viewed online at www.canterbury.com.

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Ryan Bailey

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