Ireland boss Joe Schmidt is backing Robbie Henshaw to accept that sitting out a second World Cup pool game this weekend is in the best interests of himself and the campaign.
Schmidt omitted the Connacht centre for the second week in a row yesterday as he gave a first start of the Pool D campaign to Ulster’s Darren Cave for Sunday’s Wembley Stadium clash with Romania.
A tight hamstring had forced Henshaw, 22, out of the matchday squad for the opening victory over Canada in Cardiff last Saturday, when Luke Fitzgerald deputised and while head coach Schmidt said he would have been fit to face the Romanians he explained it was prudent to hold him back for a further week, just as was the case for Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony and Johnny Sexton.
“Robbie I think is fit to play. It’s that he missed the early part of the week and therefore I think there’s a couple of them that we left out partly precautionary and partly because they hadn’t had the time running with the team.” Schmidt admitted Henshaw had been frustrated by his situation but said he was also understanding of the risks involved had he played this weekend.
“He’s mature enough to know that we, and he, have to manage the risk. We don’t know how many big games there are to come,” Schmidt said.
“We know every game is a big game because you got to make sure you’re getting points and we know we have Italy and then France. We’ve got to make sure we’re nailed on for those to get something beyond that.
“Part of Robbie’s frustration is that two of the four games we know we’ve got are gone for him and he’s very, very keen to be involved if he can be selected in those last two.
“What we didn’t want to do is select him for this game and for him to maybe miss the next two and potentially anything else we can be involved in later in the tournament.
“He certainly understands that. I had a good chat with Robbie, as did the medics, so he’s aware of that.”
Shaun Cronin, head sports reporter of breakingnews.ie, speaking to the Irish Examiner’s rugby correspondent Simon Lewis on Ireland’s RWC match against Romania this weekend. Video by Dan Linehan.
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