Robbie Henshaw in action against Ben McCalman of Australia last night.
By Grainne McGuinness and Shaun Cronin
Robbie Henshaw has revealed that former Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll has been reviewing his matches and working with the player on improving his game.
Henshaw was speaking after last night’s win against Australia, completing a clean sweep of wins for Ireland in the November series.
Henshaw played at 12 in the opening match of the series, but last night took the number 13 shirt that was O’Driscoll’s until his retirement earlier this year.
He was asked how he felt playing at outside centre.
“I felt quite comfortable,” he answered. “I was happy enough, but still striving to improve at being the 13th shirt.
“It was a bit different to being one out, but good to have Gordon D’Arcy inside me, he’s got a lot of experience and just stayed in my ear all night, and he gave me the confidence to get off my line and make some tackles.”
Henshaw then talked about the help O’Driscoll has given him as he worked himself into contention for a starting spot.
“There was an opening there in the thirteenth shirt and there were a couple of contenders going for it. It’s just about sticking your hand up and playing well and hopefully getting in there and keep holding on to it.”
Brian O'Driscoll has been mentoring Robbie Henshaw since his retirement.
He continued: “Myself and Brian stay in contact via text and a couple of of phone calls here and there and he gives me some things to work on. He has a look, studies my games and he’s really helping me at the moment.
“I’ve a lot of respect for Brian. He hasn’t been in camp, but he’s been on the phone and studying the matches and reviewing them. He’s given me things to work and telling me things I’ve done well.”
Henshaw was asked if he had requested help from O’Driscoll when he retired in March.
“Yeah, exactly. I made sure I said it to him,” he said. “I was like, ‘don’t leave me now, give me a dig out when you go and help me improve.’”
The Connacht player is keen to use any help available to him, as he is aware he is not the only player vying for the position.
“There are a lot of contenders there,” Henshaw said. “Darren Cave had a good game last night for Ulster and Jared Payne was amazing against South Africa. So there’s serious competition which will only make me try and improve myself.”
He was honest when asked what the last few minutes of the game felt like.
“It was pretty torturous, my lungs were burning, burning a lot, just to see Ian Madigan and Tommy Bowe get that turnover at the end was a relief, thank God they did.”
“I knew what Australia gave to us last year and it gave me a wake-up call as to where I needed to be and how I needed to prepare myself,” Henshaw said. “It was a tough day at the office, but it was great to see us come through.”
“We went at half-time with a drawn game and it was good to see us come back in the second-half and win the half,” he said, admitting the Irish players had made life difficult for themselves when they allowed the Australians back into the game in the first-half.
“It came down to a couple of errors, we spilled a couple of balls. One or two fell off a couple of tackles we could have made, and made life much easier for ourselves. I think they got in quite easily, just because of some of our errors.”
“They were easily fixable, at the time we were a bit concerned, but we just got ourselves together and gathered in and focused on winning the next moment.”
Henshaw was asked if the focus was now on the Six Nations competition in the Spring.
“Yeah, Joe touched on it. I think there’s a group camp in December where we’ll review that game and then we’ll focus on the start of February and we’ll work on the Six Nations,” he said.
“That’s where it’s going to get tough and we’ll have to prepare really well.