Friday 19 January 2018

Ulster's Chris Henry will use memory of his father in pursuit of Heineken Cup dream

CHRIS HENRY is determined to win the Heineken Cup for his late father William.

The 27-year-old's dad will be in his mind before he runs on to the Twickenham turf to face Leinster in Saturday's Heineken Cup final.

The Ulster flanker always looked to his rugby-playing father for direction, from taking the first tentative steps in the game right up to pulling on an Ulster jersey.

Whether it was ferrying him around the various grounds, supporting him at matches or giving hints gleaned from playing at senior level with the Belfast side Malone, his father was the inspiration behind Henry's rugby career.

After a short illness, 'Willie' passed away a month before his son made his Ireland debut against Australia in 2010, with the IRFU flying his mother Denise to Brisbane to take in some of the emotion.

Now Chris will again remember his father as he plays what he describes as the biggest game of his career, which has seen him wear white and green at every level of the game.

"Yes, my dad will certainly be on my mind come Saturday," said Henry, who confirmed that he has fully recovered from the ankle injury that saw him miss the semi-final victory over Edinburgh.

"It was the second anniversary of his death last week, and he was on my mind anyway. Every time I pull on the shirt, you always think of your family and friends and naturally I think of my dad. But that's life, and it is one of the hard things you have to take.

Inspiration

"I will certainly use that inspiration on Saturday.

"Leinster have been tops for a while now, and it is all about catching up with them.

"The team is feeling good, I'm feeling good, the ankle is fine, and for me, it is such a big challenge with their back-row.

"For sure it is going to be a huge aspect of the game and I want to be fully involved," added Henry, who is also desperate to add to his solitary Irish cap.

"I do not want to be known as a cliched one-cap wonder.

"This match at Twickenham and the big European Cup game are the ones that coaches watch closely and pinpoint.

"So naturally I want to influence Saturday's match as much as possible," said Henry, who was one of 12 Ulster players named in the Ireland squad to face the Barbarians in Gloucester on May 29.

"But it's about Leinster now and it is all about belief.

"Leinster have been there twice before and won, so they know the form.

"But I firmly believe that with the players we have, we can match their intensity. We must perform to the best of our ability, nothing else will do. But everyone to a man in the Ulster squad genuinely believes we can win."

Irish Independent

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