Never mind the trip to Japan, Ireland’s rugby stars will have racked up plenty of miles before the World Cup even starts and that is just the way Robbie Henshaw likes it.
The Leinster and Ireland centre was back on familiar territory last week as Joe Schmidt’s extended squad upped sticks after two weeks at their regular base at Carton House near Maynooth and were put through their paces in Galway, where Henshaw spent his formative rugby years as a Connacht player, while also having a day out in Connemara at the Killary Harbour adventure centre.
This week he and his fellow World Cup hopefuls are in Limerick, with an open public training session planned for Friday morning at Thomond Park, as the team management keeps their players on their toes in the hope nobody goes stir crazy being stuck in the same place for any length of time.
With further camps planned for the new Irish Rugby Football Union’s training centre at Abbotstown as well as a week of warm-weather training on Portugal’s Algarve in late August ahead of back-to-back away warm-ups in Twickenham and Cardiff, there will be no danger of the Irish stars getting too comfortable in their surroundings ahead of their departure for Japan.
“I think it’s great,” Henshaw said. “I think it’s great we’re moving around and we’re in different parts of Ireland. We were up in Killary Harbour last week. I’d been before but the last time I was there I was in Transition Year in the Marist College so it was nice to revisit those places.
It will be nice to go and experience Limerick as well. It’s key we bring the supporters here and let them enjoy our suffering on the Fridays! And it’s great to get out of just one set-up and to get out and train in other set-ups, it’s great for us.
Returning to Killary brought back memories for Henshaw of his school trip when fellow Ireland squad member, fly-half Jack Carty was a fellow student.
“We had to do a 40km hike through the mountains as part of a Gaisce awards thing,” Henshaw said though he was grateful there was nothing as strenuous this time around. “We were paddleboarding, a bit of kayaking and some of the lads were doing the assault course. It was enjoyable.”
As for the serious stuff, which in the early stages of pre-season has seen an emphasis on strength and conditioning work, Henshaw is equally pleased with the progress made since the Ireland squad first convened on June 16.
“We had an enjoyable week in Galway and a good two weeks in Carton House. It’s been tough but the work has been enjoyable.”
Meanwhile Munster will host Declan Kidney’s London Irish in a pre-season friendly in Cork on Friday, September 13 (7.30pm).