Henderson confident he can make an 'impact' on Schmidt's Six Nations plans
ULSTER'S formidable forward Iain Henderson is confident he can force his way into Joe Schmidt's Six Nations forwards by making an impact - as an impact player.
Ulster's media sessions are so relaxed that Henderson was able to confide last Tuesday that he would be benching yet again this evening against Leicester - and that when sprung in the second half, he would be in the back-row.
Henderson isn't fazed, though. A toe injury sustained against Montpellier and then a hamstring tear against Edinburgh in the latter months of 2013 have limited his opportunities to start games.
"It's difficult getting into the game sometimes," he admits. "But I live with Stuart Olding (out for the season with a serious cartilage injury), so any time you look at him with his cast on and the crutches behind the couch, you can't feel sorry for yourself.
"I've looked at someone like Chris Henry, he's never had a serious injury. Mine have been niggly five-week injuries rather than cartilage like poor Stuart. All I can do is look at getting fit as soon as possible and getting back in.
"It's difficult to come on and make an impact. For Ireland U-20s, I came on in every game and I found it awful trying to get going in a game that's been on for 65 minutes.
"And then you have to catch your breath because you're doing everything so quickly. I'm trying to change that aspect of my game, trying to maximise that sense of impact so it can be more suited to the Irish team in particular.
"Ireland will open up a wee bit with Sean O'Brien out. But I'm just worrying about this week and then the Wolfhounds, hoping I'm in the squad for that. I can't really affect that directly at this stage when I'm just returning from injury."
Meanwhile, Leicester's former Leinster wing Niall Morris has vowed to force his way back into Schmidt's plans after being culled from the 44-man Six Nations panel announced this week.
With other players currently excluded from the panel for a variety of injury issues, the 25-year-old will have a formidable fight on his hands. Morris was included in a 42-man squad ahead of the November internationals, albeit he hadn't made the final cut for the games against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand and he hadn't heard from the IRFU before yesterday's announcement.
"I've heard nothing yet from the IRFU," he told the Irish Independent at his team's media day this week.
"It's been limited enough in terms of involvement. But it would be a huge boost to be involved. However, my first job is to stay in here and do the stuff for Leicester."