Monday 21 October 2019

Ireland's Iain Henderson hopes to have locked down Rugby World Cup place

Iain Henderson is hopeful he will be named in Ireland's World Cup squad
Iain Henderson is hopeful he will be named in Ireland's World Cup squad

Iain Henderson was moving house this weekend - 24 hours after effectively making himself an immovable World Cup option for Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.

Ulster forward Henderson proved to be the shining light of an often error-strewn Ireland performance as the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions suffered a 16-10 home defeat against Wales in their penultimate World Cup warm-up game.

It was Ireland's first loss at the Aviva Stadium since world champions New Zealand claimed a dramatic injury-time victory in November 2013, with captain Paul O'Connell not making the Dublin farewell to Test match rugby that he would have wanted.

Schmidt will now finalise his 31-man World Cup squad, but Henderson should be among the first names on his list after a barnstorming display that included him scoring a try just before half-time.

The 23-year-old offers back-row and second-row solidity for Schmidt, with that versatility proving a priceless commodity in terms of any squad selection.

"I am moving house at the moment, but it (World Cup squad) definitely will be on my mind," Henderson said.

"I tried to put my best foot forward. Hopefully, the coaches will select me."

Henderson has played most of his rugby in the back-row, but it was at lock where he starred on Saturday, serving further notice of rich potential at the highest level.

Schmidt added: "Iain showed a really big work-rate. He made a number of tackles, and a few times when we needed to get guys up and do a chase-line he was pretty prominent a few times there as well.

"I think Iain has continued to make progress. He has been a pretty important part of our side for the last two years, and we would expect that would continue.

"He is a young man, a good athlete, and we are hoping he will continue to make progress in that manner."

Reflecting on second-row duties, Henderson said: "Players like Paul O'Connell and Alun-Wyn Jones, they do the nitty-gritty work, which maybe is something I need to work on in my game.

"In terms of coming from the back-row, I am more of a dynamic carrying player, and maybe I need to get my head stuck in a few more dirtier places."

Despite Henderson showing his quality throughout the contest, Ireland were ultimately punished for their poor discipline, with Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicking three penalties to subdue opponents who regularly got on referee Craig Joubert's wrong side.

"It was frustrating in the first-half, our penalty count," Henderson added. "It wasn't good enough, by our standards.

"The last two Six Nations, we pretty much won them by being one of the best-disciplined teams. It is something we will work on this week."

PA Media

The Left Wing - RWC Daily: End of an era as Ireland say sayonara to World Cup

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport