Robbie Henshaw is targeting Ireland’s US clash with New Zealand for his comeback from injury.
The Leinster new boy suffered a lateral tear in his knee cartilage during Ireland’s second Test of the South African tour last month, and will be on the sidelines for three to four months.
An on-time return would see him in contention for the November 5 meeting with the All Blacks in Chicago, although the centre is hopeful of making an even sooner return.
“I’d be optimistic I could aim for Chicago, or even before that, maybe for the European games in the Champions Cup,” he said.
“But to be honest I can’t say. I’m not sure, I can’t tell you that.
“I have a check-up next week with the surgeon and I’ll know more then. I’ve been told to completely switch off and keep it in the brace and let it mend.
“I don’t think I’ll be fit for the start of the season. After I got the scan they told me it would be between three and four months so… so I will be looking at the end of September, start of October.
“It’s not an ideal start for me. I was pretty shocked to hear when it happened. It’s one of my first big enough lower limb injuries so it’s not ideal and starting with a new club you want to make a massive impact from the get-go. The only thing I can do is do the best I can to recover and get back.”
Having only suffered hamstring strains before, this tear was a big blow to the 23-year-old and he admits that he knew immediately it was something serious.
“I knew straight away there was something wrong,” he said. “I felt something go and I couldn’t straighten it.
“I tried to get up and walk it off but it wasn’t allowing me and I knew it wasn’t good.
“I ditched the crutches a week after surgery and the surgeon was happy with that so it’s getting strong and feeling better every week. It’s a case of just letting it mend. I suppose next week he’ll tell me more. I’m not sure what will happen then.”
Next week is a busy one for Henshaw, with Leinster coach Leo Cullen also in the diary.
The former second row will be thrilled to welcome the ex-Connacht man into the fold, even if he is hobbling around with a leg brace, and Henshaw is excited about his new surroundings.
While he was all smiles as he helped Connacht beat his new employees in last May’s Guinness Pro12 play-off final, he is ready for the next challenge in his career — in blue.
“It’s really exciting, it’s great to be involved with guys I’ve played with in the Irish set-up as well. It’s going to be unreal and it can only benefit me, it can only kick me on as well,” he said.
“Obviously Connacht did a lot for me over the years as well, skills-wise and development-wise as well, but hopefully now I can get to that next level. I love a challenge, I want to keep improving my game.
“I’ll never settle to not improve my game so I think that’s one of the reasons. I need to be pushed by other guys, that’s one of the things that you need to improve.”
Henshaw hopes Joe Schmidt, the man who brought him into the international set-up, stays on as Ireland coach, but believes Pat Lam should be considered if the Kiwi moves on next year.
“I think he’ll definitely be considered,” he said of Lam’s chances.
“There’s a lot of names around, I’m not sure who’s in for it if it comes up, but... I think what he’s done [at Connacht] is incredible.
“It took a couple of years for his gameplan to get settled in but once we were comfortable with it we reaped the positives from it. He’d definitely be considered, he’s a top class coach.”
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