Henshaw mining the positives after World Cup woes

It wouldn't be like an Irish mammy to wish illness on her son but you wouldn't have blamed Robbie Henshaw's if she had regarded it as the lesser of two evils when it forced the Leinster centre to miss out on the visit to the Sportsground two weekends ago.

Henshaw mining the positives after World Cup woes

It wouldn't be like an Irish mammy to wish illness on her son but you wouldn't have blamed Robbie Henshaw's if she had regarded it as the lesser of two evils when it forced the Leinster centre to miss out on the visit to the Sportsground two weekends ago.

Henshaw had been pencilled in for his first club game of the season, and his first of any kind at the Galway venue since swapping Connacht for Leinster, until a bout of fever confined him to bed and spared his mother the worry over how the return to his old patch would have gone down.

There's no doubt there would have been some ribbing, and Henshaw's father Tony has spoken before about how nervous his wife can get during games, so there was some upside to his unfortunate absence.

"It was just my mum (who was worried) my dad was alright,” he said this week ahead of Leinster's visit to Lyon in the Heineken Champions Cup.

“She didn't want anyone from Connacht giving out about me. She decided if I did play there she wouldn't go."

All this was said with a smile and he didn't demur when asked if maybe he was a mummy's boy.

Some of his old Connacht pals were engaging in some banter in the run-up to the game and there was the odd jibe about him pulling a sickie to avoid the game altogether.

It's good that he can grin about it now as his fitness has been no laughing matter this last two seasons.

The impact on his test career has been particularly marked. He managed just one appearance for Ireland in 2018-19 and his World Cup was compromised by a hamstring issue.

Joe Schmidt said time and again that Henshaw was a player with previous in producing a top-class performance on his return from injury but he looked rusty in Asia, understandably, as Ireland stuttered through the tournament until their inglorious exit to the All Blacks in the last eight.

Turning the page can't be all that easy.

"It's been tough coming back but from an individual perspective coming back and being fit and not being injured is a positive to take from a tough period. The only way to get on with it is to just get back on the pitch.

"And that's the same for every player. You just look forward to getting back and doing what you're doing, coming into work every day, enjoying meeting the lads and putting in the hard training.

Being back in your own bed is a massive thing as well. You just have to move on to the next chapter and obviously put it behind you.

Shifting from one camp to the other grows easier with time. Henshaw has swapped over and back from club to international commitments often enough now and he makes a point of writing the 'new' calls down and learning them again by rote when he returns.

There isn't much time or scope for confusing the basics on the pitch right now, not with four Champions Cup rounds to play in a five-weekend stretch and a handful of younger players muscling their way into the squad on the basis of their form while the stars were away.

There will be an onus on the likes of Henshaw to prepare these youngsters for the unique surroundings that come with an away game in France. Lyon may have lost in Northampton but they are the Top 14 leaders and they will be a different ask in their own back yard.

"We had a good scout at them last week and this week. They're a really exciting team, sitting on top of the Top 14, and they kind of remind me of how Toulouse play.

"They have that French flair, they keep the ball alive with their off-loads. They have that physically dominant pack as well.

We know the surroundings, we played there three years ago against Clermont and it's a cauldron-like stadium when the crowds are on top of you."

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