Saturday 23 September 2017

Robbie Henshaw Diary: I am a better player after Six Nations success

Connacht’s Ian Porter in action during training in the Sportsground
Connacht’s Ian Porter in action during training in the Sportsground

Robbie Henshaw

To say the least, the last two months have been crazy. It's been a fairly wild ride, the most amazing experience of my life and a dream come true.

I started the Six Nations without an appearance in the competition, but I ended it with a winners' medal in my pocket and I feel that I am a better player as a result.

Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw (c)
Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw (c)

From the very first camp to when we split up last week it has been an unbelievable experience for me and the development of my rugby as a result has been unreal. Off the back of the whole Six Nations experience I feel I am coming back more of a mature player and more of a confident player as well.

With that in mind, it makes going back into the Connacht set-up all the more special for me. I'm looking forward to doing my best with my province from here until the end of the season, and hopefully we'll have lots more to celebrate too.

There were plenty of highlights from the five rounds of games with Ireland. I suppose the try against England was right up there, but the relief and elation around the room when France finally kicked the ball into touch was something I'll never forget.

Waiting for the result of the other game to come through was nerve-racking, but afterwards the reception from the Ireland fans that had waited in the ground was amazing. I think that was definitely the main highlight for me.

Going back to Connacht now means a change of focus again, but it's one I'm really looking forward to. I've missed a good few games that I would have loved to have been part of, but starting with Gloucester tonight I'm looking forward to pulling on the Connacht shirt again.

I was pretty tired last week after the exertions of international rugby. The body was fairly fatigued, I had a few bumps and bruises - nothing too serious - but a few days off certainly left me refreshed and ready for action again.

That week was needed though, you have to let yourself recover and the worst thing I could have done really would have been to play against Munster last weekend in a fatigued state.

That said, you don't want to have too much time laid up either. Your body fat levels can creep up pretty quickly when you have been so active and then take it fairly easy, so it was good to get back in with the boys this week.

Robbie Henshaw, Luke Fitzgerald, Tommy Bowe and Ian Madigan celebrate after the game.
Robbie Henshaw, Luke Fitzgerald, Tommy Bowe and Ian Madigan celebrate after the game.

I had a good look at the game at the weekend and it made for tough watching for everyone. Not being involved is difficult, but when the boys had done so well for so long, to see Munster run in six tries in the end was tough.

In the end I think Munster deserved to win but the score line didn't reflect the game overall. We were dominated around the fringes and once it opened near the end Munster took advantage. The injuries probably caught up with us. Losing Dave McSharry was tough, then Craig Ronaldson caught the flu before the game and Conor Finn - who did very well I thought - picked up a knee injury. That's tough to cope with.

While I'm back and available for tonight's game against Gloucester a few of the lads will miss out with injury and no one wants to sit out these games. But we have to be aware that we have a few massive Pro12 games coming around the corner. Next weekend we take on Ulster at the Sportsground in what should be a cracking game with so much to play for, and we still have three league games to go after that. So hopefully, we'll have some guys back from injury that won't miss out on those games.

This week, though, all the focus has been on Gloucester and trying to find a way to crack their system. Kingsholm is a real traditional rugby ground and a special place to play. I played with the Irish Wolfhounds there last year, but it was a rotten night, so at least I'll be prepared if we get the same tonight.

I was interested to see Brendan Macken made his debut for Gloucester in last week's defeat to Sale and he's a guy I have played against a few times over the years. They have talent all over the field: Billy Twelvetrees is a really skilful footballer; Charlie Sharples and Jonny May are very dangerous too, and Greig Laidlaw and James Hook are super talented, so we'll have to be on our toes. If they are given room they can be pretty electric.

In the pack they have the potential to dominate anyone. They are full of internationals like Richard Hibbard, Matt Kvesic and John Afoa and I think they will look to get good go-forward ball.

21 March 2015; Adam Ashe, Scotland, is tackled by Robbie Henshaw, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
21 March 2015; Adam Ashe, Scotland, is tackled by Robbie Henshaw, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Up front we have to match them first and we will take care of the rest of the stuff out wide.

All in all, it's nice to be back home after the few weeks of intense work with Ireland.

It has been a while since I was in Galway - in fact the last time I was here was the training camp I had with Ireland. Living in an hotel room is great: it is pretty comfy and you do get your food handed to you, but I like my own space, I like cooking for myself.

Tonight is a huge game for all of us. The prize is a home semi-final and the chance of winning some silverware with Connacht. The Pro12 top six is still the main aim, but this week is all about winning in Gloucester and getting into the last four.

Irish Independent

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