Robbie Henshaw is planning to use his head to kick on and become a Leinster star. The 23-year-old is still a couple of months off making his debut for the province, after his summer switch from PRO12 Champions Connacht.
A knee cartilage tear, suffered in Ireland’s second Test in South Africa in June, has ensured the versatile back missed the province’s pre-season, but he was still in and around camp to listen to and chat with Graham Henry.
The former All Blacks coach spent a few weeks as a coaching consultant at Leinster, dishing out his decades of knowledge to staff and players alike.
The coaches took a lot from his ‘keep it simple stupid’ attitude, and players enjoyed the clarity of his messages when it came to improving their attacking potential.
But for Henshaw, it was something else that stood out.
“His whole focus on the mental side of the game, your mental preparations, was fascinating,” he said.
“It’s an area of the sport that’s getting bigger and bigger - being in that mental state to be ready for what’s coming at you.
“He said that in his set up with the All Blacks, he based a lot of his success around his backroom staff and his players, but the psychologist they had in got them to the next level. He said having that guy in there was crucial.”
Henshaw worked with Enda McNulty, the IRFU’s sport psychologist of choice, when he first made the step up to Test level, and plans to tap into the skills of another psychologist now he’s made the switch from Connacht to Leinster.
“I use our psychologist in the international set up, and I think I’ll end up going for more outside myself, down the line,” he said.
Henshaw has barely begun preparation for the new season, due to his injury, but expects to have a clearer idea of his return date after a check up in two weeks’ time.
“I’m out of the knee brace now, everything is gone, I’m moving really well and rehab is going really well, it’s only a case of letting that graft repair now,” he said.
“In two weeks I should have more of a time frame. It could be sooner than expected, I could be back for European rugby or before.”
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