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'There'll be a lot of traffic': Schmidt outlines the challenges facing Henshaw at 13

The new 13 faces a real test at the Aviva on Saturday.

Robbie Henshaw: centre of attention.
Robbie Henshaw: centre of attention.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
IRELAND COACH JOE Schmidt is backing Robbie Henshaw to have ‘a good day at the office’ if he can work in tandem with his centre partner Gordon D’Arcy.

The Connacht star won just his second international start in the number 12 shirt against the Springboks two weeks ago and has now moved back to his favoured slot at outside centre due D’Arcy’s return to fitness.

“I don’t know if you can ask too much more of Robbie,” Schmidt said of the performance against South Africa, “I thought he delivered a really solid performance — it was very seamless him moving into 12.”

As second centre centre is a notoriously difficult channel to defend from, Schmidt will have ensured the Athlone man was well-drilled in Australia’s threats before sending a changed team out to face Georgia last weekend. And waking up to see the Wallabies team this morning will merely have underlined the dangers.

“At 13 there will be some different challenges,” Schmidt says, in personnel for starters: with [Israel] Folau coming through that midfield area, [Tevita] Kuridrani and the two  wingers. I do think there will be some traffic for Johnny [Sexton], Gordon and Robbie to cope with.

“Robbie’s also gonna have to link with the wingers, which is another  challenge for him.”

As for how Henshaw will link with the 80-Test veteran, there can be no comparison to the Wexford man’s near-telepathic understanding of Brian O’Driscoll, but there have been some opportunities to get acquainted since D’Arcy returned to full training before the South Africa Test.

“They’ve had a little bit of time together, they’ve enjoyed two training sessions together this week, that’s pretty much all we’ve had time to do [this week].

“I’m just hoping they can feed off each other, I’m hoping they can connect and link really well, and make sure there’s no space for some of those big Australian runners to come through.

“If they do that really well they’ll have had a pretty good day at the office.”

First published on Thursday at 20.33

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Sean Farrell

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