Henshaw hopeful of returning to boost Leinster's push for silverware

The centre says he is in a good space mentally as he nears the end of his rehab programme.

Henshaw sustained the injury against Italy last month.
Henshaw sustained the injury against Italy last month.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ROBBIE HENSHAW HAS made good progress in his rehabilitation from the dislocated shoulder he sustained during the Six Nations and is now hopeful of returning to action before the end of the season.

It was initially feared the Leinster centre would miss the rest of the campaign after suffering the injury in the act of scoring against Italy in round two of the championship, but there is now a real possibility Henshaw will return in the coming weeks.

While the Ireland international, who underwent surgery on his shoulder, recognises the need to be patient as there are still several markers to be hit, there is renewed optimism that Henshaw could provide Leinster with a major fillip towards the business end of the Pro14 and Champions Cup campaigns.

“It’s five weeks in, everything is going really well at the moment, roughly halfway there,” Henshaw said yesterday.

“At least I’m not ruled out for the rest of the season, which is really good and has me in a good mindset. If you have a season-ending injury you might go through the motions, you might get caught up with it [the disappointment] but the fact that I have a target to get back.

“I’m not really sure when that target is, we’ll just have to take it week to week, but the physios and the medical staff have been impressed with how things are going.”

The Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens on Easter Sunday will come too soon for the Athlone native, but, all going well, he could return to full training and be available for selection again in time for a potential semi-final at the end of April or, more realistically, the Pro14 play-offs at the start of May.

“We have the hurdle of Saracens first,” he continued. “It’s not a bad mark [semi-final] to get back for but fingers crossed. The lads will put in good work this next two weeks and hopefully we can go on.

Robbie Henshaw The Leinster and Ireland centre speaking to media yesterday. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“I have to be patient. You go through the process and hit all your markers. Sports science and the medical side of things being so precise now, you have to be precise on your testing and if it’s not right at the end of it then you have to take another few weeks to get it right.

“Certainly if it’s not right at the end point then I won’t be rushing it because there is no point. I’ll push it as hard and as fast as I can to get back.”

Henshaw is evidently determined to get back to help Leo Cullen’s side in their quest to end a four-year trophy drought, but he has used the enforced layoff to switch off from rugby and get back to college and finish his degree in Economics and Geography in UCD.

“I have got to more lectures this last few weeks than I had the last few years,” Henshaw jokes, further underlining the healthy space he is in despite his Six Nations being cut cruelly short.

After playing a key role in Paris and then scoring a brace against Italy, Henshaw had renewed his midfield partnership with Bundee Aki and was set to be a central figure in Joe Schmidt’s side.

As it was, he was forced to watch the wins over Wales, Scotland and England at home or from the stands while undergoing extensive rehab on a shoulder injury which was the result of a ‘freak incident’ as he grounded the ball on the try line.

It was, therefore, heartening to see Henshaw in the thick of Ireland’s Grand Slam celebrations at Twickenham last weekend, an experience he was grateful to enjoy.

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“It was a different place to view the game from,” the centre says of Saturday. “Obviously I wanted to be on the pitch, involved in what was going on but it was great to be there with the team, to celebrate with them in the changing room afterwards and have a beer. It was brilliant.

Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki and Kieran Marmion celebrate winning Henshaw with Bundee Aki and Kieran Marmion at Twickenham. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I had booked to go over [to London] with my partner for the weekend. They got me a pass to go down [onto the pitch] and see the lads. I did feel part of it. Everyone says you played a big part. You take it on board but ultimately you want to be there, you want to be involved.

“It was a great campaign and I definitely think I contributed something to the group from the early parts until I got injured. I definitely feel part of the squad.”

Robbie Henshaw was speaking at the announcement of Leinster Rugby’s 10-year naming rights partnership with Energia that will see Donnybrook Stadium renamed Energia Park.

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