Monday 23 October 2017

Robbie Henshaw: Our attack can improve

Robbie Henshaw expects Ireland to attack a lot more in coming weeks
Robbie Henshaw expects Ireland to attack a lot more in coming weeks
Henshaw and Jared Payne (pictured) were forced to learn on the job, as they worked on their partnership
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Robbie Henshaw has echoed Johnny Sexton's assertion that Ireland have room to improve their attacking game and believes that they will show more come World Cup time.

The duo are expected to line out together for the first time this season in Saturday's clash with Wales in Dublin, the second last warm-up game before the big show gets going next month.

Although Joe Schmidt's side won a second Six Nations in succession this year, they found themselves frustrated in a number of big games, before cutting loose against Scotland.

Part of the issue was that the coach was bedding in a new centre partnership, with Henshaw and Jared Payne earning on the job as they increased their understanding together.

Having grown in stature throughout that competition, the Connacht youngster believes they can kick on in the weeks to come.

"Absolutely, I think we're going to play a lot more in the coming weeks. We're going to attack a lot more and it's going to be more exciting play," he said.

"Obviously we'll look to exploit our strengths whether it's kicking in the air or just running hard lines in the centre. I think we'll look to change it up a little bit in the coming weeks.

"Getting the defence right was the first thing, creating that partnership in defence and making sure we were rock-solid and no-one was breaking us. And I think we did a pretty good job of that last year.

Relationship

"That was the main thing, creating that relationship that no-one would break us, and I suppose the attacking things are coming now and we're learning from one another every week so I think it's really expanding."

Although the team is likely to have a much-changed look to it this week, the fallout from the 21 missed tackles against Scotland means that defence has been in focus around Carton House this week.

Defence coach Les Kiss highlighted several systemic issues to go with the individual errors, but Henshaw said the work done in the intervening period should have amended the problems ahead of a step up in class against Wales.

"We are not too worried about it, there is always a little bit of roughness in first games," he said.

"There will be a little bit bigger of an examination this week we need to be more urgent around the tackle area, there was something like 21 missed tackles (against Scotland).

"We will look to clear that up a bit. We need to make those one-on-one tackles and we will look to have more line-speed off the line, look not to give Wales the amount of time we gave Scotland on the ball and to get more line-speed and more urgency will be what we are looking at, we'll expect to see a change."

Having enjoyed a longer pre-season to focus on fitness and skill-set, the Athlone-born centre is relishing the chance to get back on to the pitch again and making his mark in the weeks to come.

"I think I've matured as a player," he said. "I'm still pretty young. But, from last year being involved in the squad regularly, I've matured into that centre role.

"I'm really looking forward to getting into the thick of things. After two games and seeing the boys play, training against them, I'm really itching to get in."

Irish Independent

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