Focused Iain Henderson vows to ignore ‘highlights-reel’ rugby

Iain Henderson has vowed to ignore “highlights-reel” rugby to realise his full potential with Ireland.

Ulster lock Henderson bulldozed South Africa talisman Eben Etzebeth when Ireland thumped the Springboks in a record 38-3 triumph in Dublin on November 11.

The 25-year-old wiped out second-row rival Etzebeth when driving forward with the ball, in a stunning snapshot shared thousands of times on social media.

That prompted teammate Devin Toner to laud Henderson as a true Test match “monster”, but the powerful enforcer has now insisted he will not let special moments or outside praise distract his focus.

“That was a two-second period in an 80-minute game,” Henderson told Press Association Sport, of running over the top of South Africa skipper Etzebeth.

“People may look at that and say I’d played brilliantly because I ran over the top of him, but if I do everything else wrong in the game then I’ve played badly.

“And if Eben happens to miss that tackle but is excellent everywhere else, then he’s still played really well.

“So that’s probably where you have to take things with a pinch of salt. It’s not about a highlights-reel kind of approach.

“It’s the guys that make the game so much easier for their teammates that I look at, respect, and want to emulate. For years at Ulster and with Ireland too, that’s been Chris Henry.

“If Jacob Stockdale makes a great break, it’s probably going to have something to do with a really good ruck clean at the breakdown before from one of the forwards.

“Those are the kinds of things that probably aren’t credited enough. That’s just because it’s not flashy.”.

Henderson believes playing alongside the likes of Ireland skipper Rory Best and now- retired greats like Paul O’Connell has handed him unrivalled insight into how to reach his true peak. “I’ve been very fortunate to be exposed to guys like Rory and Paul, who would point me in the right direction — without that I may not be where I am today,” said Henderson.

Meanwhile, hooker Duncan Casey has left Munster for a contract in France.

The Corkman played 46 times for Munster and scored five tries since his debut against Perpignan in the Heineken Cup in Thomond Park in December 2013.

However, he has fallen down the pecking order in recent seasons.

Munster team manager Niall O’Donovan said: “Duncan has been a massive character in our squad and will be sorely missed by this group of players and staff. He has worked hard in coming through the Munster pathway and has overcome a number of challenges in getting himself back to full fitness.

“We wish Duncan all the best with his next opportunity in France.”


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