The injury to Sean O’Brien paved the way for the Belfast boy to step through and with his 30th birthday looming later this month he wants to seize every opportunity.
“It has been a fantastic year. I have loved every minute of it. With Sean missing my goal was to show what I was about and try and do a job for the team and hopefully I did,” said Henry, who started all the games of the successful Six Nations campaign.
It’s over four years since he picked up the first of his 14 caps and the key for him was to get a sustained run in an Irish shirt to show he could do it on the international stage.
“The big thing was getting the run of game time. Joe gave me the benefit of the doubt. There was a lot of pressure. I had to perform for him and had to perform for the team as there was so much at stake. I really enjoyed that.
“A run of game time is certainly something that played a big part. It’s well and good coming off the bench and maybe getting 15 minutes and trying to show what you are about but when you know you are starting the game you can really influence it and you have 80 minutes to show it. It certainly gives you a lot more time to impress.”
He knows it will be a bruising encounter with the Pumas on Saturday, even if most of their European players are not involved, but Henry says the homework has been done.
“The good thing about this squad of players is we know Joe demands an awful lot so boys have gone off their own bat and the amount of video work that has already been done is something I have noticed.
“Argentina is a team that has been together for a while and that channel from inside the ruck to the 10-12 channel, that’s where a lot of traffic comes and that is where I have to be. Certainly all the back rows know it’s going to be a pretty bruising encounter,” he added.
With Darren Cave set to be handed Brian O’Driscoll’s shirt and Robbie Diack poised for his debut, the Ulster influence on the Irish team continues to grow.
There will be a transition period in Ravenhill over the summer, however, with the likes of Johann Muller, John Afoa and Tom Court moving on but he feels they have the talent to build on a solid season just gone.
“There is going to be a lot of new faces, which is always very good. We’re not hiding the fact there are big, big players leaving so it’s going to be tough. But I think we have home-grown players that can lead and we just have to plough on and there is no way we can take a backward step.”
But he is the first to admit they need to back up their strong performances in recent years with silverware.
“There’s no hiding from that. Every year we talk about it and we as players get fed up repeating the same stuff, saying we learned from this, we learned from that. We need to take our chances when they come. Unfortunately you need a bit of luck.
“In some games going down to 14 men made it difficult but we have important players. Paddy Jackson, I thought he improved massively this year, I’d say he was one of the most improved again and he is going to be real important. You need someone in the driving seat to really run the team and with Ian Humphreys coming back as well, he will also help Jacko come along as well,” enthused Henry.