Monday 19 August 2019

Finals experience will stand to us - Henshaw

Robbie Henshaw. Photo: Sportsfile
Robbie Henshaw. Photo: Sportsfile

Ryan Corry

As a 37-time-capped Ireland international, Robbie Henshaw has experienced much of what there is to see and do in rugby.

Touring with the Lions is one of those heralded achievements for any rugby player but in this week what will stand out in Henshaw's achievements is last year's win over Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup final.

The centre appreciates that days like this don't come around too often so it's important to make the absolute most of them when they arrive.

"You have to cherish it. The opportunity we have, and we had last year, is incredible," says the Athlone native.

"I think we have that balance of young and old players and to have the experienced guys around who have been there, have been in the last three to four finals, and can take ownership during the week, is great to bring the younger guys along.

"I think you have to tap back into where we've been as a team during this year and last year and the finals beforehand. That's a big thing to look back on and get you primed for what's to come."

Leinster's opposition on Saturday evening will be Saracens who are littered with a host of internationals themselves and an extremely forceful pack, an advantage they have exercised over teams in their unbeaten run to the final. "I think physicality stands out when you mention Saracens. Looking at their game against Munster, it was pretty much a dog-eat-dog competition and we need to be ready for what's to come in the air," Henshaw adds.

"They're one of the best teams in Europe from their record in the pool stages and in this competition.

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"We need to focus. We've done our homework and we know what's going to come but I think its how we deal with the pressure that's put on us in the game. We need to be incredibly clinical and we need to be physical."

Leinster impressed in their dismantling of Toulouse in the semi-final. They limited the French Top 14 leaders to a mere 12 points, despite the free-flowing attack that the French club have shown all year.

Calibre

The calibre of that achievement was further highlighted last weekend when Toulouse dazzled on their return to domestic action with an 11-try, 83-point haul against Pau.

The game itself will be hosted by the city of Newcastle and St James' Park, more synonymous with the likes of Alan Shearer, Shay Given or Nolberto Solano.

It'll be Henshaw's first visit to the famed arena and he's hoping it will be one to remember.

"I've never been but from any person I've spoken to, I've heard it's an unbelievable stadium.

"I was watching Newcastle play there a few weeks back, I think it was against Sale, and even the pitch looks incredible, it looks like a carpet. It's going to be a great occasion; hopefully it's a fast track and a dry ball."

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