Ireland flanker Chris Henry will not take chances with his health to rush back to rugby following his suspected mini stroke, says friend and team-mate Rory Best.
Henry, 30, suffered “a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain” on the morning of Ireland’s clash with South Africa on November 8. He is recuperating at home and awaiting further tests to determine his exact situation.
Despite doubts regarding the Ulster man’s ability to return to rugby, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said yesterday he was “quietly confident” Henry will be back for province and country. Yet Best said there would be no hurry to put a date on his comeback.
“I’ve been speaking to Chris,” Ulster and Ireland hooker Best said. “He’ll deal with it all in his own time and the key thing for him and his family is that he’s well and responding well to whatever he needs. He’s a key part of not just the Ulster team and pack, but the Irish team and pack. He’s a huge loss, obviously. But more importantly from being a friend of his it’s knowing that he’s okay.”
Best said Henry was relieved his health crisis occurred while he was on Ireland duty.
“He’s glad that, in terms of it happening, it couldn’t have happened in a better place. Within 90 seconds to two minutes, a physio was in. Within three minutes a doctor was in. He couldn’t have been in any better care immediately. And I think from that side of things he’s very happy. And he’s very happy with how the IRFU dealt with it. He’s just now getting his head around everything.
“No-one likes to be out of the game, but he knows you don’t take chances with your health and you have to look after yourself.”
Schmidt backed Henry to make a full recovery and hoped he may even stake a claim for Ireland action in the Six Nations.
“But I’d be quietly confident that Chris will come through the other side. I’d be very hopeful that he gets his boots back on; and there may even be time for him to do that before the Six Nations. The specialists will let us know a bit more once those tests have come through.”
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