Wednesday 26 April 2017

Henshaw: I joined Leinster to play in these big games

Robbie Henshaw Picture: Sportsfile
Robbie Henshaw Picture: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

After an injury-hit start to his Leinster career, Robbie Henshaw is finally feeling at home in his new surrounds in the capital.

The Ireland centre has now played seven times for Leinster and has slotted in seamlessly alongside Garry Ringrose in midfield.

A quarter-final place is on offer should Leinster see off Montpellier this evening and Henshaw admitted that these kind of games were the reason he left Connacht.

"Every player wants to be at the top end of Europe," he enthused.

"Our main goal is to get the win and secure a quarter-final, but we've more work to do the week after to secure a home quarter-final.

Focus

"Our sole focus is this Friday night and putting in a good performance and getting to the quarters.

"It would mean a lot because I've never been in a quarter-final in Europe before in this competition."

Plenty of Leinster's younger brigade fall into the same category and after last season's disappointment in Europe, Leo Cullen's side are in pole position to banish those painful memories.

There have been plenty of positives for Cullen to take from the performances this season and the budding partnership between Henshaw and Ringrose certainly stands out.

"Garry is a class act," Henshaw said. "I think seeing how he's really grown after the November internationals, I know he's getting better and better every week. So his confidence is high and he just needs to keep playing as he's going and he'll be fine.

"I think he's a massive contender for that '13' shirt in the Six Nations. He's a dream to work with.

"I think I got some good touches with him last week and we're just building on everything week in, week out, and we're learning more and more about each other's game as the weeks go on so I'm really enjoying playing with him and I think the sky's the limit for him."

At 23, Henshaw has come to terms with the fact that he is the senior man in Leinster's midfield but he is relishing the responsibility.

Having played alongside experienced centres like Jared Payne and Bundee Aki, the Athlone native is keen to pass on any information that he has learned.

With Payne a doubt for the Six Nations due to injury, Ringrose will be hoping to continue his partnership with Henshaw at international level.

"I know myself and Jared took a while to properly gel together because I was playing in a different position and it took a few games to understand each other," Henshaw maintained.

"It obviously helps that I'm playing with Garry here week in, week out, so we know each other's movement and what we're going to do, so it's definitely easier in that way."

All international thoughts will be put on hold for now, with Montpellier coming to town tonight.

Unstuck

Leinster have already come unstuck against the French side this season but Henshaw believes that his side will be better prepared.

"We can't give them easy penalties. Even last week our penalty count needs to be better, but I think if we keep the ball moving, keep creating offloads like we did last week and keep running onto the ball and keep playing at tempo and at pace because if we play like that I think they won't live with us. I think we'll be able to exploit them.

"It's going to be a massive test but as a player these are the games you want to play in."

Irish Independent

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