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'Some sniper decided to get me in the back of the leg' - Ulster star Iain Henderson on his injury trouble


Iain Henderson is on the road to injury recovery. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Iain Henderson is on the road to injury recovery. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Iain Henderson is on the road to injury recovery. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Iain Henderson has revealed how it felt like a "sniper" had taken him out after he was forced to withdraw at the last minute from the Irish side that completed a November international clean sweep by humbling Argentina.

He may have to face even more formidable artillery if the Ulster captain can regain his fitness in time for the daunting double December dates with Clermont Auvergne and Northampton Saints in the Heineken Champions Cup.

And ahead of those twin terrors, the imposing lock, who turns 30 in February has spoken, once again, of the regrets that his domestic career will finish empty-handed.

After another moderately encouraging start to this campaign – a notable win in Dublin but then insipid defeats to Ospreys and Connacht – there is no reason to suspect that the misfiring province will end a trophy defeat that extends into a yawning 15th season.

Whether Henderson can pitch in this month to help them retain a measure of uncertainty after his latest injury travail.

“My injuries always seem to come at the most bizarre times in the most bizarre places, unfortunately,” said Henderson, who had only just reached full fitness for November after a thumb injury has hindered his early season.

“But, again, it’s frustrating that it happened during the warm-up. All week it had been fine, and then in the last five seconds of the warm-up, it decides to...some sniper decided to get me in the back of the leg.

“It’s been going well, I’ve been doing a bit of running and it’s been feeling good. So, again, I’m just trying to follow the right protocols for a hamstring injury and, hopefully, it’s going to be looking good.”

Henderson will be 30 on February 21st and, having resisted potential entreaties to play abroad, is still determined to add a winning medal for his province to his glittering international rewards.

“Ten years, I would think, have zipped by frighteningly quickly,” he said at the Heineken Champions Cup launch.

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“I mean, lots of rugby players don’t even get a ten-year career, such is the nature of the sport. Is it kind of shocking to think: “My God, ten years and here come the thirties!”?

“It’s completely mind-blowing, the fact that I’m going to be 30 very soon. I still feel like a kid, and looking around the squad.

“It’s frightening to be here and there’s only, maybe...you’re counting them on one hand, the number of players that were here when I started. And, in my head, they’re all still young players, too, like me.

But it’s not the case! But, no, it’s good, it’s good to feel young at heart.

“Obviously, getting to a few finals, playing a lot of knockout rugby [have been career highlights]. Those weeks playing knockout rugby, they’re so good building up to them,” Henderson said.

“Obviously, we’ve had a lot of disappointments. Winning semi-finals has been brilliant. Obviously, not being able to do it on a final day has been frustrating.

“If I was to retire now, that would probably be the big regret, that the performance never came on the day of a final. So, that’s something that I might hopefully get another couple of shots at to try to right the wrongs that we haven’t been able to do.

“I’ve said this before in the media: when we don’t win, no one’s trying not to win,” Henderson explained.

“Everyone wants to win. Obviously, that’s the way sport is sometimes and it’s frustrating, and it just kind of feels like for the first part of my career, it felt like we were just watching them come and go.

“And maybe the latter part, the last two or three, four years, it feels like we’re maybe actively trying to change things, to make it better, which is good, so hopefully over the next few seasons, if we get a few more shots we might be able to change that.”

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