STOOD AT JUST under 6′ 4″ and just over 100 kilos, the status of being an elite international is already a snug fit for Robbie Henshaw.
As he stands with a light strapping on his left ankle, quietly rattling off answers about the threat Wales pose he does manage to remind you that he’s only 21.
He jumped up and down on the couch alongside hie father when Ireland last won the Grand Slam.
The couch wouldn’t survive these days. Henshaw would rather replicate the experience on the field.
“It was an unbelievable day, just what every player wants to achieve in their career. And I think, looking back, it was some achievement.”
As with most of Ireland’s good days in the past 11 years, Ireland had the O’Driscoll-D’Arcy axis running the midfield. With the game’s most-capped international retired, Henshaw has found himself thrust into an all new centre partnership. And although his presence has opened the squad exit door for D’Arcy too, Henshaw credits the Wexford man as another big influence on his fast progress.
Henshaw attempts to duck under a flying Dave Attwood tackle against England. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
“Gordon was really, really good to me. He was helping me along in November and he gave me a hand before the Italian and French games. His experience alone is unbelievable and he has given so much to the Irish jersey. He has had an incredible career, but he is still there with Leinster so I will be keeping in touch with him for a few tips yet.
“He taught me that you have to distribute the ball, as well as being a ball-carrying threat. He has helped me in terms of timing my run and getting my hands on the ball, getting the ball in my hands early and picking out the right option. He has offered me some good tips, and how to deal with certain situations in defence…”
House of Cards
With Jared Payne, Henshaw may never have the same affinity that existed between the Leinster duo, but the new centre from Athlone and Tauranga are making an effort to let no time go to waste – be it on the training field or just knocking about the hotel.