Thursday 18 July 2019

"I think he is one of the greatest pleasures" - Keith Wood on his admiration for Iain Henderson

Ulster's Iain Henderson, left, is consoled by team-mate Stuart McCloskey after being shown a red card against Munster last Saturday
Ulster's Iain Henderson, left, is consoled by team-mate Stuart McCloskey after being shown a red card against Munster last Saturday Newsdesk Newsdesk

Iain Henderson is one of the most exciting prospects in Northern Hemisphere rugby and Keith Wood is a very big fan of the 6ft6in Ulsterman.

Henderson's delicious offload for Tommy Bowe's try against Munster at the weekend showed the subtle qualities that the giant back row possesses.

Since his return from injury against Leicester in the Champions Cup in January, Henderson has arguably been the the best Irish player playing the game and Keith Wood agrees.

"I think he is one of the greatest pleasures.. He is a guy to pay money to watch. I would love to see him in the Irish team," the Irish legend told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"Whether he goes on in the back row or the second row, I think for the last few months he has been the form player. Every time he comes off the bench (for Ireland) he does incredible work.

"I thought he was phenomenal in the whole game.

"You don't want him to tone him down, for me he looks like a more in control Courtney Lawes. I love watching Courtney Lawes play but there is a good chance of him flattening someone late off the ball, not so much with Iain Henderson. He's a class act."

Henderson has been the province's most influential player since his return from injury in January but his season was plunged into doubt after he was sent-off in Ulster's 25-all draw with Munster at Kingspan Stadium last Saturday.

The 23-year-old back row was given a straight red by referee Nigel Owens on the advice of TMO Kevin Beggs for perceived use of the head when clearing Munster wing Ronan O’Mahony ruck deep with six minutes to go in the game

A statement from the all-Welsh disciplinary committee today read: “Having viewed the incident in close-up (which the match referee had not been able to do at the time), the Disciplinary Committee concluded that the player’s initial contact with his opponent had not in fact been with his head but with his arm.”

Wood added: "I thought it was a red card because I thought he made connection with his head and  if they have shown on a super slow-mo that he didn't, then that's great and great for him.

"He did go off his feet, he was quite reckless. That is one of the parts of the game that I think is going to change over the next six or nine months... maybe after the World Cup because the way you're supposed to ruck is with somebody.2

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