'Rugby doesn't last forever for any player' - Recent forced retirements have made Robbie Henshaw look to the future
The forced retirements of Jared Payne, Dominic Ryan and Sam Warburton have acted as a wake-up call to many professionals.
Most players now balance playing with studies so they can transition from their lives as paid athletes to other occupations.
The prospect of having their professional sporting life cut short by injury is always a danger and these recent cases have brought this into a sharper focus.
Ryan was the sixth Irish international to retire due to concussion. Payne, Declan Fitzpatrick, who won seven caps for Ireland, the former Leinster captain Kevin McLaughlin, who played eight times for Ireland, Nathan White of Leinster, Connacht and Ireland and Dave McSharry (Connacht and Ireland A) are the others.
"I know Jared is into his 30s now and he was probably looking to finish up in the near future but I think with Dominic, he's a relatively young player and a very good player and it's important that you have things going on off the pitch," Robbie Henshaw told Independent.ie.
"You have to have a degree of some sort and put some time into your education and have a back-up plan and that's what I've learned from what's happened to them.
"There have been a few players in or around my time that have had to call it a day.
"I wouldn't say it's worrying but anything can happen in sport and you need to have a back-up plan because the reality is that rugby isn't going to last forever for any player."
Henshaw is no stranger to concussion.
He was a high profile casualty in a bruising encounter against the All Blacks at the Aviva in 2016 when he was knocked unconscious by a high tackle from Sam Cane. The fixture came a fortnight after Ireland's famous win at Soldier Field.
"We knew when the return fixture came they would have a chip on their shoulder and that they were going to come hard at us," he added.
"For me it was tough but it's just part of the game. It was a shortlived game for me but thankfully I made a successful comeback after it.
"We're going to expect another tough challenge in November, there are a lot of tough teams coming our way and the All Blacks are one of them. I'm looking forward to it."
World Rugby have sought to reduce the number of head injuries suffered in recent years.
Any challenge to the head is an automatic red card and it is hoped the zero-tolerance policy will address the greatest single threat to player safety in a sport that is becoming increasing attritional with an emphasis on dominating collisions.
Former Ireland international Geordan Murphy, and current interim head coach at Leicester, recently performed a U-turn after comments that rugby had ‘gone too politically correct’ after one of his players was sent off for a high tackle.
It's a hot topic in the game and Henshaw believes the course of action being taken by World Rugby and referees is the right one.
"You see what's going on now in terms of how it's being refereed," he added.
"I suppose the referee's association and World Rugby have taken a stance that they are going to change how it's going to be reffed
"It's good, it makes it safer for players but you have to be careful, you want to hit below the shoulders today because there are strict penalties given out. You could be sinbinned or even get a red if you hit around the head.
"It makes it better for people who have been on the receiving end of hits and questionable high hits and have had to leave the field of play through consussion.
"I don't think any player goes out with the intention of hitting another player high.
"Sometimes in a game it just unfolds that way through late footwork or a player dipping their head.
"It's everyone's responsibility on the field that when you're in defence you do your best for the team and try not to give away penalties.
"It certainly an area where we try to keep the count low. That's going to be key this season as well."
Leinster host Munster at the Aviva this weekend and Henshaw is looking forward to pitting his game against former teammate Joey Carbery.
"Joey made a move for his career. It's his choice and it's devastating to lose such a high quality player of his calibre.
"It's understandable and he wants to develop himself as an outhalf.
"You'd prefer to have him on your team than not have him on your team. He'll definitely cause teams problems.
"I'm looking forward to playing against him and I'm sure he'll be handful for him.
"It's a tricky one but he's made the move for his career and to play more at outhalf."
Canterbury, the official kit supplier to the Irish Rugby team, has revealed the new Ireland Rugby Home and Alternate jerseys that will be worn throughout the 2018/19 season.
The product of Canterbury’s Innovation Lab, performance is at the heart of the new Ireland Home and Alternate Test jerseys which are on sale now from Canterbury.com and sports retailers nationwide.