Thursday 8 December 2016

Robb ready to step into Henshaw's shoes next season

Published 14/04/2016 | 02:30

Peter Robb: 'Robbie is a class player, a top-class player. Being compared to him is quite a compliment I suppose' Photo: Sportsfile
Peter Robb: 'Robbie is a class player, a top-class player. Being compared to him is quite a compliment I suppose' Photo: Sportsfile

The reality of Robbie Henshaw's move to the capital isn't likely to fully sink in for Connacht supporters until he lines out in the blue of Leinster next season but one player who made the move in the opposite direction is ready to fill the considerable void that will be left behind.

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After two years in the Leinster sub-academy, Peter Robb was enticed to Connacht by Nigel Carolan for whom he played for at Ireland U-19 level.

A former Blackrock College student, the Dublin native is in his second year with the Connacht Academy but on the back of his impressive displays this season, he will graduate to a senior contract next year.

Robb's promotion is a timely development with Henshaw heading east and although he knows that he still has plenty of improvements to make, he doesn't feel any extra pressure.

"Robbie is a class player, a top-class player. Being compared to him is quite a compliment I suppose," the 21-year-old said.

"With all the best players, everyone has to shift around and move. I just want to focus on my job and do the best I can to hopefully step in next year and hopefully step in and fill the role he is leaving.

"Robbie is only a year older than me but he's obviously got a lot more experience at the top level. I'm just trying to pick up as much as I can from him and Bundee (Aki). They're top-class players. Getting any advice and tips from them is really good."

With a sizeable 6ft 3in frame as well as a considerable 107kg bulk, it's easy to see why Connacht supporters are already making the comparison between the two centres.

Robb played for the Ireland U-20s two years ago and after an impressive Six Nations campaign, in which his midfield partnership with Garry Ringrose was a particular highlight, he was cruelly ruled out of the Junior World Cup after suffering an ankle injury in a warm up game.

Looking back on his decision to join Connacht, Robb has no regrets and his 12 appearances this season is a testament to that.

"The set-up here in the academy is top-class. We do our skills four times a week and then a lot of pitch sessions as well as the extra skill sessions," he explained.

"I think it's a lot more intense (compared to Leinster). The training is a bit more full on. It does mean less college time and all that but I think it's ultimately making me a better player.

"I don't like to be seen as a one-trick pony, that can just carry up. I've been working a lot on my skills this year. I've added a lot to my game. I'd like to think I'm good all round, but you always need to work on stuff.

"The structures here are brilliant and I don't think anyone can say that they didn't improve when they come down here.

"When you are getting in more often you have to be more confident in yourself.

"Playing with the lads and getting more opportunities it brings you on a good bit in that regard.

"If you told me at the start of the year that I'd get 12 caps I'd have been a bit surprised. But when you are working hard week in, week out I feel that I deserve it."

Robb will get another chance to impress on Saturday against Munster at a sold-out Sportsground and he will do so in front of a home crowd who see him having an exciting future in a green jersey.

Irish Independent

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