Iain Henderson has unfinished business.
Which says something about appetite and ambition, given the 31-year-old’s vast accomplishments in the sport.
The two-time Lions tourist, three-time Six Nations champion, remains hungrier than ever.
Like his vaunted provincial predecessor, Rory Best, proud provincialism is undermined by a lack of success; he has had to find it in a green jersey.
Like Best, thoughts have occasionally drifted to other fields; Toulouse mooted as he ponders the future beyond a World Cup there in six months’ time.
In France, transfer yarns are almost as plentiful as those flitting across Sky Sports News; it was a rumour as fleeting as a snowflake on a car windscreen.
But thoughts now are only on the immediate concern, stepping in for Tadhg Beirne in a familiar position on the field but as an utterly different performer in that second-row role.
His hunger remains ravishing; not only primed for the challenges to come but cognisant of those which have passed him by.
Take 2023 as an example when a knee injury ended a historic New Zealand tour before he could even smash a tackle bag; he then had a hand injury as November loomed.
A couple of head knocks on Ulster duty hampered his primary goal of challenging the then world No 1 side, South Africa; by the time he did make a bow against Fiji, he was doing so for the first time with an Irish side ranked the best in world rugby.
How could one possibly walk away from all that? Especially when there is so much more to come.
Many may clamour for the new breed, led by Ryan Baird, but Henderson provides a security regarded by Paul O’Connell and his partner, James Ryan, who will not have the added duties of lineout calling in Murrayfield this Sunday.
A small thing to most observers but a big thing for the few participants.
“If Hendy is calling and taking all that responsibility on, it leaves James a bit freer to do more in the game,” notes Devin Toner, himself a purveyor of substance over style in a career that was as long as he was tall.
“And obviously Hendy, we all know, he’s a great ball-carrier, is physical and a threat at the breakdown and counter rucking and stuff. I’ve always been a big fan of Hendy.”
He might nearly be on a century of caps now, such have been the mishaps and misfortunes of his professional life; hazards of the trade, true, but he has seemingly hogged more than his fair share.
Such that when he was anxious to kick off his November earlier than others might have wished – including wiser folk on the staff than he – obvious frustration was evident.
He was ready for Ireland but Ireland wasn’t ready for him.
“The late start was probably more frustrating for me, as it was kind of enforced management rather than an injury itself,” he explains.
“Prior to the Autumn Series and during it I trained fully here.
“As players we have huge faith in the S&C staff to look after us, and the medical staff and physios and sports scientists that analyse our data, about where we need to be to ensure we don’t get injured again.
“I felt I just wanted to play immediately, but I know that all those guys have the players’ best interest at heart.
“You have to take yourself out of it emotionally and realise they want the best for us.
“I’ve full faith in them, so
I’m just enjoying being back playing and we can hopefully get another game or two under my belt.”
Beirne’s injury has opened the particular door that was slammed shut as the campaign began in Wales.
This sort of stuff plays much better with the punters than it does the players who seem genuinely distraught when a team-mate gets injured and delighted when they return.
“Leading into those first two games, I can’t complain if I’m sitting behind James and Tadhg, two world-class players.
“And for me the focus was to prepare them as best as possible, and unfortunately for Tadhg it was the end of his tournament against France.
“I was genuinely gutted for him, but there lies an opportunity for someone to step in.”
Now Henderson is back in business.
Time to finish it.