Robbie Henshaw confident of getting back on the rails in Rome

That line about triumph and disaster and treating them the same?

Well, Robbie Henshaw could be the living, breathing embodiment of that.

Henshaw doesn’t do elation and he doesn’t do down and out either. He may act differently in the sanctity of the dressing room but when he fronts up for media duties he employs the sort of measured monotone that belies the result just posted.

So it was yesterday.

Less than 48 hours after the frustrating loss to Scotland, the Leinster centre was presenting the fourth estate with the sort of inscrutable visage that — one small bruise on his cheek aside — gave little or no clue as to the imposter of a performance Ireland had delivered in Edinburgh.

None of which is to say he dodged anything.

The ritual of the Monday video review was brought forward to the Sunday night by Joe Schmidt and the tape was run again yesterday morning as the team broke into a batch of pods to dig deeper into the wreckage of their self-inflicted defeat.

Henshaw picked most of the main points out for discussion when faced with the microphones. Poor start, nerves, narrow defence, a general sense of flatness across the park, indiscipline late on: He didn’t leave a whole lot out.

The focus now is on what they can do better in round two.

Ireland’s Six Nations can turn one of two ways at the Stadio Olimpico this weekend: Win and the carriage is back on the rails; lose and the rest of the journey turns into a long and torturous tale of recrimination and regret.

There is no margin for error against the Italians.

“Definitely,” Henshaw agreed. “It makes us switched on 100% for the next 80-plus minutes. You can’t switch off in this competition or you will be punished. We learned that the hard way last weekend. It is a learning for the whole squad.”

Scotland has changed everything. The Grand Slam has gone. So too, the Triple Crown. Ireland still have a championship to chase but will do it burdened by an extra dollop of pressure that is already manifesting itself in the early talk of how they may even need to go after a winning bonus point in Rome.

Wales came up a try short of claiming that fifth point when dismantling Italy in the second-half last week but they followed the accepted pattern of what it takes to overcome the Azzurri by matching up physically at first before stretching a tiring host as the afternoon wore on.

It’s eight years and four visits since Ireland managed to rack up as many as four tries in the Italian capital — they claimed five in 2009 — and the debacle four years ago when Italy claimed a famous win is a reminder of what can happen when things veer off plan.

“Our main focus at this stage is performance, taking one game at a time. People are talking about bonus points this weekend. First and foremost is to get the result, get the win, and then we’ll focus moment by moment.

“There is a confidence that this team can win the championship and from what this team did in November… it’s an incredible group so I think if we get our stuff together we can go on and contest for a championship.”

Henshaw saw close up on Saturday what can go wrong when the issue is forced.

A try looked inevitable when Jamie Heaslip broke the Scottish line and, with it, the plane of the ‘22’ with 57 minutes played, but rather than go to ground and recycle, he attempted an offload to a supporting Henshaw that was plucked off by Sean Maitland.

Seeing a Schmidt team fluff its lines so badly was a shock given the rarity of the offence — a repeat only a week later would be off the Richter scale so it is no surprise when Henshaw prioritises detail over any sense of anger.

“We need to have a look at what’s coming this weekend and how and where we can attack the Italians. Playing with emotion is obviously a great thing but we need to know our roles and do our jobs the best we can.”


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