Iain Henderson happy to buy into Joe Schmidt’s demanding routine in Argentina

Having missed out on November series, Ulster star is enjoying playing catch-up with Ireland squad

Ireland’s Iain Henderson in action during the first Test against Argentina last Saturday. “It’s all about detail with Joe, make sure everything is nailed off.”

Ireland’s Iain Henderson in action during the first Test against Argentina last Saturday. “It’s all about detail with Joe, make sure everything is nailed off.”

Having missed out on the November Tests through injury, Iain Henderson has been playing catch-up under Joe Schmidt’s watch, which as many players have testified, is not always ideal. Saturday’s first Test was only Henderson’s second under the Irish coach, along with the penultimate Six Nations win over Italy, but the signs are that he is getting there.

Henderson is a huge talent, wonderfully athletic and skilful for such a big man who has a real attitude about him on the pitch, and as Schmidt said afterwards, the 6ft 6ins (1.98m), 116kg (18st 3lbs) lock-cum-flanker is growing all the time. Henderson wouldn’t be known for his attention to detail in training but has clearly learned to do things the Schmidt way.

Asked yesterday what was the best piece of advice the Irish coach had given him in the last year, Henderson immediately and predictably replied: “Know your detail.” He added: “It’s all about detail with Joe, make sure everything is nailed off.

“There’s no point in turning up to training if you don’t know what your plays are. You need to make sure you’ve done all your homework on yourself and the opposition, you’ve watched your training sessions just past, you know what they’re going to be like, you know what their lineouts are, you know what their plays are and what not.

“It’s very intense and I think it’s fantastic.

‘Switched on’

“I think he keeps everyone switched on. Everyone really respects him and I think in training that goes a long way when everyone respects the coach.”

Like everyone, but all the more so later additions to the squad, Henderson has been chastised by the demanding Schmidt along the way. “He caught me a good few times at the start when I was a little off guard. I’d heard people talking about it. I was injured during the November series and I missed that, and I heard people talking about the detail required from the likes of Luke Marshall and Paddy Jackson and all the boys who were down.

“I wasn’t quite prepared or hadn’t realised exactly what it was like and during the Six Nations games it came as a bit of a shock, whereas down here now I’ve had a whole Six Nations of it so I knew what I was getting myself into it. It just ensures you’ve got everything nailed off and come match day it makes you feel so much more comfortable about yourself.

“You might be a wee bit less comfortable during the week in training, you might be a wee bit nervous or what not, but come match day you know your detail because there’s no other options during the week.”

From the outside, this sounds very intense and exacting, yet the eagerness and enthusiasm with which players roll up for duty and buy into this demanding regime is also palpable, and for one main reason.

“I think that’s because people enjoy it when you’re winning and Joe seems to put the pressure to get the result,” explained Henderson.

“I think that pressure, as it pays off, that’s why people enjoy it. At the start it was a bit ‘oh flip, this is all so intense’ but when you see it paying off you think ‘it was worth it then’ and it gets people in good mindsets. ‘If we’re doing all this homework it’s going to pay off and it’s going to work for us’.”

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