Tuesday 25 October 2016

Cullen: Henshaw is looking razor sharp and is ready to go against Munster

Published 07/10/2016 | 14:05

Leo Cullen has backed Robbie Henshaw to hit the ground running when the Ireland centre makes his Leinster debut against Munster at the Aviva tomorrow.

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Henshaw has yet to feature for his new side since joining from Connacht and he was been catapulted straight into the starting XV for the crunch derby clash.

Read more: Clash of the titans gets stellar cast as Henshaw and O'Mahony picked to start Leinster v Munster derby

The 23-year old will start at inside centre and although Cullen admitted that he would monitor him closely during the game, he believes that Henshaw is ready for a game of this magnitude.

"Robbie has looked sharp, it's a big game to come into but he's trained well over the last couple of weeks,” Cullen said in UCD this afternoon.

“It's funny to see a list and zero beside his name because he's been around over the course of pre-season and training wise, it's nice to see him out there but it's hard to believe he hasn't actually played yet.

“He's used to the surroundings so looking forward to see him in action.

“It's competitive in a lot of the slots, there's good competition. Noel has played there a good bit this season, good to see a bit of a change there.”

Cullen confirmed that Josh van der Flier was being managed and had not suffered an injury but Dave Kearney (ankle) and Fergus McFadden (quad) both face a spell on the sidelines.

The Leinster coach is relishing tomorrow’s clash but he knows that it will be a step up in intensity from anything they have faced this season.

“It's another PRO12 game of the 22, but there's always a little bit more to it,” Cullen maintained.

“It's an unusual situation where you have guys that go into camp on a Sunday and then they go back to their provinces and start preparing for a game against those same players.

“There's so much at stake with these games, provincial rivals, the sense of tradition over the years with the game, the rivalry that's there with supporters and what's coming up.

“All the players want to play well for what's coming up in the immediate which is two big European games but then after that there's the situation where Ireland are playing the All Blacks twice so there's so much at stake in this game.

“It's definitely a step up in what we've done so far.”

Rhys Ruddock will start on the blindside and will come up against Peter O’Mahony who will start his first game since he suffered a serious knee injury against France in the World Cup last year.

“He’s great player and a good fella,” Ruddock said of the Munster captain.

“I played with him at U-20s. I know him very well. He was my captain.

“He’s a good friend and a good teammate when he’s on your side but obviously we know how good it can be for Munster and what an important part he plays in their performances. He’s one of their key players who as a team, we need to take care of."

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