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'I feel I can step it up as a leader' - Henshaw ready to lead from the front

Robbie Henshaw is ready to take on more responsibility.

Henshaw want to be a leader on the pitch.
Henshaw want to be a leader on the pitch.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

WITH TWO OF IRELAND’S on-pitch leaders now out of the World Cup, Robbie Henshaw says the time has come for him to stand up and make his presence felt.

The Westmeath centre was one of the stars of Sunday’s comprehensive win against France on Sunday, making the decisive break in the build-up to Rob Kearney’s opening try, and keeping Mathieu Bastareaud’s impact in the middle of the pitch to a minimum.

And despite his young age, the 22-year-old Henshaw says that his time has come to lead more on the pitch.

However, the Connacht centre says that while he wants to take on more responsibility, it doesn’t mean he’ll be ranting and raving for the sake of it.

“I feel I can step it up as a leader, and definitely in the back line and out wide I can give the boys more.

“But it doesn’t have to be vocally, I can just do it through actions on the pitch by putting in a big hit or carrying the ball.

“So that’s the way I’d like to be recognised as a leader, to keep my head down and do my work.”

The hamstring injury to Paul O’Connell has naturally dominated the team’s press activity this week, and Henshaw says that the captain’s presence was a major factor in his ability to settle into the squad last year.

Paul OÕConnell celebrates with Robbie Henshaw after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The first time I met Paulie, he was so welcoming to me as one of the youngest players in the squad and he always took me under his wing, always helped me around the place.

“He always gave me that bit of advice and he wasn’t too intense either, he’d always switch off and crack a few jokes as well. He’d have a bit of craic with you around the dinner table.

“So I’d always loved and admired that side to him, that he wasn’t all intense, all work, but he was good craic off the pitch as well.

“I just think any time he spoke he just managed to say the right thing, every time.

“He’d never repeat himself, it was always something new and always catchy, you’d never lose focus on what he was saying.

“That’s one thing that I admired him as well for, just every time he spoke you’d hear a pin drop. He had everyone’s full attention and everything was always nailed on for everybody.”

Henshaw added that the the spate of recent injuries, and that of O’Connell in particular, will bring the squad closer together in the knock-out stage of the tournament.

“I think that’s one of the angles that you can look at it, ‘let’s do it for our skipper’ and I know he’ll be there watching us.

“I suppose it’s an opportunity for other guys, you have to look at it that way but definitely that will give us the urge to push on and do the best we can without him.

“But I think it can drive us on and give us that urge to give that little bit more for the boys that we’ve lost.

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Neil Treacy

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