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'It’s not ideal. Starting with a new club you want to make a massive impact from the get-go'

Leinster’s new centre has had to deal with the set-back of a bad knee injury ahead of his debut season.

Robbie Henshaw launching the new Ireland jersey.
Robbie Henshaw launching the new Ireland jersey.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“IT’S A LATERAL tear in the meniscus,” explains Robbie Henshaw, dressed in full Ireland kit and wearing a protective brace on his left knee.

A month has passed since the Ireland centre picked up the injury tackling South Africa’s Lionel Mapoe in the closing minutes of the 32-26 loss at Ellis Park.

“I knew straight away there was something wrong,” he recalls. “I felt something go and I couldn’t straighten it. I tried to get up and walk it off but it wasn’t allowing me and I knew it wasn’t good.”

Henshaw would miss the third Test decider, flying home to see a specialist, as the Springboks took advantage of his absence to record a six-point victory in Port Elizabeth and clinch the series 2-1.

The past four weeks have been all about the three Rs — rest, relaxation and rehabilitation.

“I have a check-up next week with the surgeon and I’ll know more then. I’ve been told to completely switch off and keep it in the brace and not do anything really and let it mend.”

Along with several of his Ireland team-mates and their other halves, he recently enjoyed a holiday in Barbados alongside girlfriend Sophie Marron, which was a gift to the squad from businessman JP McManus for their participation at the World Cup.

Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, however, this latest injury has coincided with the biggest move of his career.

After four years as a professional at Connacht and on the back of them winning a first trophy in 131 years, the Athlone native has departed for Leinster. And now he looks set to miss the start of his debut season with the province.

“No, I don’t think that is going to happen,” is his response, when asked if he’ll be ready to line out for Leo Cullen’s side for the Pro12 opener against Treviso on 2 September.

“After I got the scan, they told me it would be between three and four months. So I will be looking at the end of September/October.

“I was pretty shocked to hear when it happened. It’s one of my first big limb injuries so it’s not ideal and starting with a new club you want to make a massive impact from the get-go so it’s not a good start for me.

The only thing I can do is do the best I can to recover and get back.

He went on: “I’d a couple of hamstring strains here and there but nothing as bad as this. I ditched the crutches after a week which was a positive.

“The surgeon was happy with that so it’s getting strong and feeling better every week. It’s a case of just letting it mend. I suppose next week he’ll tell me more. I’m not sure what will happen then.”

Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw goes off injured Henshaw goes off injured at Ellis Park. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Despite the set-back, he has been in regular contact with Cullen is relishing the prospect of linking up with the squad.

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“It’s really exciting,” he says.“It’s great to be involved with guys I’ve played with in the Irish set-up as well and to be involved with them seven days a week. It’s going to be unreal and it can only benefit me, it can only kick me on as well.

Connacht did a lot for me over the years as well, skills-wise and development-wise as well, but hopefully now I can get to that next level as well and I’m in the right set-up to get there.”

Leinster finished runners-up to Connacht in the Pro12 but Henshaw has no regrets about his decision to move on.

“I’ve left the place on a really high note, on a bang. Even just for me, the change needed to come. I’ve been there a long time, I needed the change for myself as well and to go and get experience from guys who have got to that next level.

“For example, Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, guys who have played in the Lions team. It was just a decision for me, you know.

“Leaving by winning and beating Leinster, the team I was going to, it was kind of a funny feeling.

“But I don’t know, it was just incredible for Connacht because they hadn’t won silverware ever. To do that in my time I’ve been with them, is definitely memorable.

It was the perfect way to leave.

“I love a challenge, I want to keep improving my game. I’ll never settle to not improve my game so I think that’s one of the reasons.

“I need to be pushed by other guys, that’s one of the things that you need to improve.”

Canterbury ambassador Robbie Henshaw officially launched the new Ireland Rugby jersey, the most innovative and technically advanced rugby jersey ever worn by an Irish rugby team. The new Ireland Rugby range is available to buy now from shop.irishrugby.ie and canterbury.com.

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Ben Blake

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