Robbie Henshaw ready to gain revenge for defeat in Paris in 2016
Robbie Henshaw is eager to “hit back” at France for the loss Ireland suffered at Stade de France two years ago.
In times gone by, Ireland looked to hang on in the centre in defence with smaller, smart men like Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy.
For once, Ireland will not hold a size disadvantage in the midfield and this is where Ireland could even draw the battle lines with Bundee Aki likely to win the contest to join Henshaw ahead of Chris Farrell.
“We will go out there with our game plan and we will look to execute it,” said the Athlone man.
“We will be physical in the midfield.
“We will look to find space in behind them as well. We will look to play smart, I suppose, and constantly keep them under pressure.
“We’ll see what they throw at us and we’ll hit them back.”
Henshaw has been haunted by the slip that allowed Maxime Medard steal away a win from under the noses of Ireland in the 2016 Six Nations.
“Yeah, I’ve thought about that,” he said.
“I lost my footing in that moment and slipped.”
That was all it took for France to turn a close game on its head.
“We are well aware of their threats. We’ve done our homework and we know what they are going to bring to us.
“We have looked at some images from what happened there two years ago, how it was an arm wrestle and we let it get away.
“We will look to change the picture this time.”
A lot has happened to Henshaw in two years as he has moved from a rookie to a leader, especially in defence.
“It is a really exciting feeling coming in, being more of a leader,” he said.
“We see different pictures every time you play. You are constantly learning every time you go out on the pitch.
“From when I started, I feel I’ve improved and gained more knowledge as I’ve progressed through my career.
“The game is constantly evolving. You have to constantly update your knowledge on the game.”
Joe Schmidt has been drilling in the lessons learned from the defeat to Scotland in the first round of the Six Nations last year.
“When we looked at our start last year, we need to do better this year,” voiced Henshaw.
“We know how hard it was last year, starting out on a loss.
“We tried to claw it back in Scotland, but left ourselves with too much to do.
“We are well aware of what happened and we want to hit the ground running this year.
“That’s all that is our heads at the moment. We are all aware of what we need to do.”