Tuesday 20 March 2018

I had to sit out the team golf outing as my exams are around the corner

Robbie Henshaw in action during Connacht training
Robbie Henshaw in action during Connacht training

Player Diary - Robbie Henshaw

Without having a game to play last weekend, all of our focus in the last fortnight has been on Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground tomorrow.

For such an important game, it has been great to have that extra bit of preparation time. It allows you to go into the depths of study and prep work that sometimes is not possible when you are playing week after week.

But still, getting your head right and your body right are the two main things. I'm confident that we have both for this weekend.

As usual, when we don't have a game we replace it with a couple of really intense hit-outs at training to avoid any staleness setting in.

It was only two weeks ago that we played Ulster, but it's so important to keep your game skills sharp in the weeks when there's no game.

We also had a right good look at Glasgow. Those few analysis sessions were great and we also got a few extra weights sessions in there to top up.

As with every session we do, the field work was interspersed with some skills sessions. You might think that we should have our skills sorted at this stage of the season, but it really is something that you have to keep working at to keep the standards up.


Typically we would do a few skills drills followed by some fitness work, but then we would go straight into a skills drills again. It's all about trying to execute skills under pressure and under mental and physical fatigue.

That's our skills coach Dave Ellis' focus; he sets up the drills and really tests us when we are tired and mentally in a tough position.

The aim is to directly replicate game conditions where possible, so repeating drills when you are tired is a brilliant way to improve.

Unfortunately I had to sit out the team golf outing last week because my college exams are just around the corner and I had to keep my nose in the books, but from what I hear it was a good laugh.

I heard JP Cooney wasn't the best, and that Swifty struggled a bit too, but god help whoever the ball supplier was - I hear Galway Bay Golf Resort's version of Amen Corner took a lot of them down!

While I was supposed to be studying all weekend too, taking advantage of the few days without a match, I still took a bit of time off to watch the Leinster v Toulon game.

It was a really entertaining game. I thought Leinster played brilliantly but were a bit unlucky in the end. It was probably their best opportunity to get a win over one of those French sides but unfortunately it wasn't to be.

I didn't get to see the Challenge Cup semi-final, but I have since seen that Gloucester have made it into the final. They put 30 points on Exeter, which is impressive, but now it's just a case of what could have been for us.

With Edinburgh in the final too, hopefully it means that they might have half an eye on that rather than the race for sixth place, but I'm sure they'll be keen to chase success on both fronts.

Early this week was a real pleasure at training, Galway is a brilliant place when the sun shines. Training on Monday morning was brilliant with the heat on your back, and it wasn't too intense, just everyone executing their jobs and running through our plays.

Tuesday and Thursday were our two heavy days, but we've been doing quite a bit of physical work early in the sessions this week to get ready for the early kick-off tomorrow at 1.05.

And tomorrow's game is going to be a real challenge. Overall they are a great unit, with some exceptionally talented players in there. They have been one of the most physical sides in the Pro12 for the last couple of seasons so we know what ahead of us.

Guys like Stuart Hogg can win a game for them with his ability and Niko Matawalu is brilliant wherever he plays. They are powerful up front with the likes of Leone Nakarawa and Aly Kellock, while Josh Strauss at No 8 is a quality player too. There is no denying their quality.

With just three games to go there is a huge amount at stake for us in the next few weeks. And while I wouldn't say the Glasgow game tomorrow is make or break, there is still the realisation that we need to get as many points as we can.

We are determined to get a win tomorrow, but obviously it is going to be very tough. In my view, we are up against the best team in the league, but there will be pressure on them too. There is big pressure on the top six as everyone is trying to pick up points in order to get a home semi-final, they are not immune from that either.

So hopefully, with so much to play for on both sides, it will be a highly entertaining game for our brilliant supporters. We're wishing for a dry day so we can play a bit of quality football, but if not we will deal with that as well.

A win would be a massive boost to the squad and everyone involved in Connacht Rugby.

There's no doubt it's one of our toughest games of the season but we've done really well at home all season - bar two close losses in the league. This is our second last game at the Sportsground and we really want a win that will help us finish a great season on a historic high.

Irish Independent

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