Wednesday 28 September 2016

Henshaw and White carry hopes

John Fallon

Published 18/09/2015 | 02:30

Robbie Henshaw sits out the Irish training session in Cardiff yesterday. The Connacht star is out of tomorrow's game against Canada but Joe Schmidt is hoping he can return for the clash with Romania
Robbie Henshaw sits out the Irish training session in Cardiff yesterday. The Connacht star is out of tomorrow's game against Canada but Joe Schmidt is hoping he can return for the clash with Romania

Robbie Henshaw and Nathan White will carry the hopes of Connacht as Ireland embark on their World Cup campaign this weekend.

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Henshaw misses the opener against Canada tomorrow with a hamstring niggle but is expected to return in time for the clash with Romania. White is on the bench tomorrow.

It will be the first time since 1999 that Connacht have two players in action at rugby's premier event, with Eric Elwood and Matt Mostyn featuring back then. Since then only Gavin Duffy, in 2007, has represented the province at the World Cup.

The inclusion of Henshaw and White is a huge boost to the game in the province, with scrum-half Kieran Marmion on standby for a call-up should injuries arise.

There will also be a Connacht connection to the opening two games at this year's World Cup.

Fijian coach John McKee, whose side take on hosts England in the opening game of the tournament at Twickenham this evening, served as Connacht forwards coach under Steph Nel and Michael Bradley. And Fijian physio Brian Downey also worked for Connacht for several seasons.

Connacht's longest serving coach Bradley is assistant coach to Georgia, who play Tonga tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Connacht go into this break for World Cup action sitting in fourth place in the Guinness Pro12 after a decent start to the new season.

Pat Lam's men did extremely well to recover from being 24 points down early in the second half away to champions Glasgow Warriors to net two bonus points in a 33-32 thriller.

The bonus points, along with the 29-23 opening-day win over Dragons, see Connacht just behind the three teams who have won both their games.

The haul of 61 points has Connacht as second top scorers in the league behind Cardiff Blues, who crushed Zebre 61-13 on the opening weekend.

Cardiff, who scored 11 tries in that clash against the Italians and who failed to cross the whitewash against Leinster last weekend, are the only side to have managed more touchdowns than Connacht this season.

Lam's charges have scored seven tries in two games, one-seventh of what they managed in 22 games last season when they touched down 49 times.

They will look to continue that strike rate when the competition resumes on October 3 when Cardiff come to the Sportsground.

It will be the second of five successive away matches for the Blues, whose home at the Arms Park is required for World Cup use over the next few weeks.

Irish Independent

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