Robbie Henshaw hails the type of unity money can’t buy
Montpellier win shows Leinster’s character as well as the formidable depth of their squad
Leinster’s Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Montpellier’s Kelian Galletier during the European Champions Cup clash at the RDS Arena, Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA
Basking in the glow of a fine, bonus point win, Robbie Henshaw’s first try of the season and Man of the Match award were secondary considerations as he reflected on a day’s work well done.
“Our aim was to kick off this competition with a win and to get the bonus point out of it was really pleasing. There’s a few fix-ups that we can look at on Monday in the review, but I think all in all we’ll be happy with that.
“Obviously there’s a few late call-ups, James Ryan and Ross Byrne stepping up there was brilliant. That goes to show the character in this team, we have the players that – when called upon, they need to be ready and they’ve shown that throughout the season.”
The ‘fix-ups’, as he referred to them, were largely in defence.
“Just a few up front, we slipped a few tackles – myself included. A few defensive errors were a little bit evident, but it’s nothing major. I think playing Glasgow over there on a 4G pitch, they love to run the ball as well. We’ll need to be rock solid in our defence because I think Finn Russell is a class player at number ten. He definitely looks to run the ball, attack flat at the line and put guys in holes. So, our defence will have to be better next week.”
Yet Leinster can derive huge satisfaction from having dug so deep into their reserves of playing personnel as well as character.
“We just have class from one to 15,” said Henshaw. “The squad is exceptional and we’re always looking to get better as a team. That goes down to our coaching as well, the coaching is exceptional in the set-up and we just all work hard for everything we get, during the week we work hard and that translates on to the pitch. You just have to trust your process in how you approach your week.”
As he also knows from his own time with Connacht, and then joining Leinster, that this sense of togetherness that comes with so many home-grown players having come through the system together is something Montpellier cannot buy. Indeed, it was interesting to hear their former lock Nathan Hines, now an assistant coach at Montpellier, admitting this was something they were looking to emulate.
“I know it can take a while for new faces to knit when they come into new set-ups, for teams to knit when they come together for the first season. We just fight for each other and fight for everything.”
Leinster have a conveyor belt unrivalled by any other club in Europe and, of all the young talent now blossoming, none is shining brighter than Joey Carbery, scorer of one try and creator of another here.
“If you get the ball to him in space he has that ability to open up a hole for someone else or use his feet, give him a one-on-one with someone and nine times out of ten he’s going to beat them. His footwork is pretty exceptional. I think that’s the asset to have him at number 15, you can get serious reward from having him in the outside channels. If you can get him one-on-one there’s a good chance he’ll do serious damage.”
Almost as important as his try was Henshaw felling Nadolo tree-like after initially being bumped by the powerful Fijian, and then bouncing to his feet to drive Ruan Pienaar back and rip the ball from him – a product in part, he said, of training drills focussing on players springing back to their feet.
“It was a big moment, but I thought at the time I needed to do something after slipping off Nadolo,” he admitted. “There’s big moments in games and definitely when the crowd gets behind you, you hear that roar and the team gets behind you, your team-mates celebrate the little victories – that’s a big lift for our team, maybe when the opposition see that it could be a little gain on them as well, it helps.”
Henshaw hasn’t played on a 4G pitch in a long time, and Leinster will hold their Tuesday session on Donnybrook’s equivalent.
“It’ll be a faster game and definitely when the ball bounces there it’s hard to judge. It can go anywhere. We’ll be ready for it, it’ll be a quicker game and Glasgow will love playing on it.”