The rumour machine says Robbie Henshaw will be a Leinster player before too much longer but the player himself insists he is going nowhere, and Connacht coach Pat Lam is equally adamant.
The heir apparent to Brian O’Driscoll on the Irish team was so inspirational for his native province at the Galway Sportsground last night that it would be unthinkable for potentially the greatest ever back from the province to even think of moving on.
Henshaw destroyed a weak Munster midfield to set up two of Connacht’s three tries and never put a foot wrong.
Rival coaches Lam and Anthony Foley were loud in their praise of his sterling display.
“Robbie just gets better and better,” enthused Lam.
“It’s only his second game with Bundee Aki, the two of them get on really well. We have a small squad, but in the group there is massive competition. The guys help each other, they make sure there aren’t cliques, they have lunch with different guys. But that type of competition drives it. You see young Ultan Dillane stepping up covering for Quinn Roux.”
Watching his side forfeit a 13-point lead and leave Galway without even a losing bonus point can’t have been easy for Munster’s Anthony Foley who were outplayed for all but the first 15 minutes and the last seven or eight. While happy to praise Henshaw, he was clearly dismayed by yet another inconsistent performance from his own side.
“Henshaw was outstanding tonight, he was immense, he was physical, he was direct, made good decisions when in the open space,” said Foley.
“It would have been hard to hold the ball in tonight’s conditions but I don’t think he made a mistake. He’s an international centre and we’re delighted he’s Irish.
“Connacht have a better squad up here than they ever did before and that augurs well for this part of Ireland. To be honest, though, I’m more concerned with our part of the island. We want to get momentum back into the season, stop start, losing three, winning one, losing one, it’s not ideal. We can’t keep having the same conversations. Something needs to change.”
While Lam wasn’t disguising his admiration for Henshaw and scrum-half Kieran Marmion, he was even more pleased with the team display as a whole, and not least the way they withstood fierce Munster pressure in the closing minutes.
“The players want this place to be a fortress. It’s not the best stadium in the competition but ultimately people keep showing up to it. Every game here has exceeded the budget and exceeded the numbers they thought would come in. That’s because they see that we work hard and it’s exciting times to be up here.”