Iain Henderson knuckles down as he faces challenging times under Joe Schmidt
“You’re only out on the pitch really for 45 minutes but you’ve got to make sure those 45 minutes are spot on”
Iain Henderson: “It is like an exam, it is like going back to school revising.”
The Irish squad were given a tour of the Titanic museum in Belfast on Wednesday night, as part of their road tour of Ireland during this Six Nations, which might have been more apposite before playing Italy last year when a freakish array of injuries saw them sink to their first ever Six Nations defeat to the Azzurri.
It was not only Iain Henderson’s first time training proudly with Ireland in his home town, it was also, he admitted sheepishly, “it was my first time there (Titanic museum) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We ate in Shu on the Lisburn Road for dinner. Very nice.”
His alma mater were one of 25 schools on the invitation list to yesterday’s session, attended by about 1,000, at a sunny but blustery Newforge. “We were down in Clonmel last week and it was a fair drive for us down to Tipperary, whereas it’s a fair drive for them up to here I’m sure. BRA (Belfast Royal Academy) are here, there was a wee busload of them from there, so I’m going to go out and talk to them when I’m done.”
The way Henderson describes life under Schmidt, “definitely, in certain aspects” the most challenging coach he’s worked under, it’s not unlike being back in school under the exacting former headmaster.
‘Are spot on’
“You’re put under a lot of pressure. He manages us on our feet very well so you’re only out on the pitch really for 45 minutes but you’ve got to make sure those 45 minutes are spot on.
“Everything needs to be correct because if they are not correct you are still coming in after 45 minutes it’s just that you haven’t got the work done.
“You need to make sure you get your detail nailed on before you go out and you know what lines you are running, you need to know where you are supposed to be and what not so as soon as you are in the pitch you know exactly what is happening and everything runs like clockwork.”
Having missed out on the November tests, Henderson has had to cram his studies, all the more so as in some sessions he’ll switch from lock to blindside or vice versa, and this entails studying notes and reviewing previous sessions on his laptop.
“It is like an exam, it is like going back to school revising.”
With Ulster’s game against the Scarlets two weeks ago having been postponed, his most pressing need now is game time at home to the Dragons this evening. “I think game time is key for me.”