Wednesday 21 March 2018

Henshaw pleased with debut showing

Connacht's Robbie Henshaw, second right, made his Ireland debut at the weekend
Connacht's Robbie Henshaw, second right, made his Ireland debut at the weekend

Robbie Henshaw found the step up to Test level a real challenge, but Ireland's newest international relished his first cap against the US Eagles and is now hoping his side can build on their narrow victory when they face Canada next weekend.

The 19-year-old became just the fourth teenager to play for Ireland in the professional age in Houston on Saturday, following Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald and Rhys Ruddock into an exclusive club. He impressed in his physicality and might even have had a debut try to celebrate only to spill Fergus McFadden's pass early in the second half as the tourists eked out a 15-12 win over the Americans.

Despite the narrow margin of victory, Henshaw was happy with how a young Irish team went about their triumph and is hoping for even better against Canada. "We got the win in the end, that is what we wanted. We wanted a good performance, we did get a good performance and we have to build on that next week," he said.

"The Americans were extremely physical and we knew they would be with their centres and back-rows crashing it. I took a few big hits myself and I'm feeling it."

The Athlone native was also pleased with how he played on his first start for his country despite spurning a debut try.

"I was pretty happy with getting my first cap, my parents were there and I was happy with my performance, so, overall, I was happy," he said.

"I got into the game early with those hits and got going, unfortunately I got caught in the headlights and let the ball slip by me. It wasn't a knock-on, it slipped out of my hands and off my hip. I should have slowed up a small bit, the lights were shining down and my vision was blurred. These things happen and I need to learn from it.

"The conditions were pretty tough to play in and we prepared for that and knew what it was going to be like. Two teams had to play in it, at the same time, so we just had to get on with.

"Definitely, it was a big step higher than European or provincial rugby. It was a faster game, it was free-flowing and the hits were bigger.

"I felt comfortable at the start, got myself into the game and did what I usually do."

Press Association

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