Henshaw hails ‘ultimate leader’ O’Connell after Six Nations win

Henshaw hails ‘ultimate leader’ O’Connell after Six Nations win

Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw is basking in the delight of a Six Nations victory and credits captain Paul O’Connell for providing the leadership to drive the team to the title.

Henshaw, 21, admitted to being overwhelmed by the fact that Ireland were champions following the nail-biting final day of action.

“It’s unbelievable, I can’t really describe it,” he said. “I’ll have to pinch myself and it will sink in eventually.

“I was sitting in the stadium in Paris (last year) as the 24th man, so I knew a bit of what it was like.

“But obviously being on the pitch and actually winning and being involved in the game is nothing like last year. It is unreal.”

Like rugby fans around the country Henshaw admitted the Irish team were bundles of nerves watching England face France in the late kick-off.

“My heart was nearly as high as it was in the game,” he laughed. “It was incredible when France eventually got the ball off the field.

“There was a quick tap involved first and a few of us nearly pulled out hair out!”

The Connacht player also credited the Scottish rugby organisers for allowing the Ireland fans to be there to witness the trophy presentation, hours after the Ireland Scotland game had ended.

“It was great to have the atmosphere and the fans in the stadium afterwards as well,” Henshaw said. “All credit to Murrayfield for allowing them back in.”

Listen to Robbie Henshaw talk about Ireland’s Six Nations win.

But his greatest praise was reserved for his captain.

“(Paul O’Connell) is just an unbelievable leader,” he said. “I think the charisma oozes out of him.

“He’s an unbelievable player and to be doing what he’s doing at the back end of his career is unreal. I think he’s an inspirational guy. He led and everyone else followed.”

Henshaw said O’Connell had been working all week to prepare his team for the final match of the tournament, after seeing their Grand Slam dream wiped out with defeat to Wales.

“He said we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, we’re still in it and not to be too down about it,” he described. “He took the bull by the horns.

“He stepped it up after we were really disappointment by the defeat to Wales.

“It’s just the guy he is. He took control during the week - he got us going and got us ready.”

Henshaw feels what makes O’Connell great is his ability to also ease off the pressure and allow himself and his team to enjoy the experience.

“He wouldn’t be all too serious, he’d also have a a bit of banter,” Henshaw explained. “I like that part of him as well, he’s not too intense, he knows how to switch off, how to have the craic with the lads.

“All in all, he’s just the ultimate leader and and the ultimate captain.”

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