Robbie Henshaw pleased to be at the centre of things for Leinster

Newcomers James Lowe and Jordan Larmour are helping drive the team forward

Eight appearances in Leinster blue this season, seven for the full 80-minute duration, five at inside centre, three in the number 13 jersey and two tries; that's Robbie Henshaw by numbers and while impressive it doesn't fully convey the consistent excellence of his performances.

It's a body of work that's being pivotal to Leinster's success domestically and in Europe and his acumen as a player, the ability to shift between the two centre positions with no drop-off in quality, has compensated for the absence of the unfortunate Garry Ringrose.

Last weekend he played 55 minutes in the thumping of the Glasgow Warriors getting through reams of high calibre work whether throwing 30-metre passes or hustling back to fell the dangerous Niko Matawalu. Occasionally he gets lazily pigeonholed for his direct carrying – he does it very effectively – ignoring other skills that he possesses; he doesn't take offence.

“I try to express myself in terms of being well rounded having that passing, that distribution game and being able to be direct, a carrier, as well,” he says. “Sometimes it depends on the situations, the type of gameplan you are playing or the way the opposition are playing. I’d like to see myself as not just a crash-hit player. I like to vary my skills.”

Tandem

James Lowe and 20-year-old Jordan Larmour were unleashed in tandem for the first time in a European game against the Warriors, something their team-mates enjoyed as much as the supporters at the RDS. Henshaw explains: "It's great, I'd love to have the wheels Jordan Larmour has. To be honest, it's great, any time either of those players, or even Fergus (McFadden), when they get the ball, you know they're going to make something out of nothing, or they'll definitely get you over the gain-line, into space.

“For us inside it’s a matter of creating space for them, or getting the ball out to them, which worked the last couple of weeks. It’s a thing we’ve worked on. Jordan has really settled in, so has James, I think they’ve taken it in their stride, and they’ve gotten better and better each game they’ve played.”

It's not just about the "newbies" as Leinster captain, Isa Nacewa demonstrated with two tries on his comeback after missing the three inter-provincials over the Christmas period. His innate ability easily mastered the slightly unfamiliar challenge of playing inside centre.

“He (Nacewa) brings a kind of calmness to the whole back line and the team, he’s just focused on doing the basics really well, and I think he showed that at the weekend. He ran some really nice lines. Two tries from his first game back is incredible, the lines he picked and the ball he took on was great. In defence, he’s a guy who doesn’t hold back, he puts in dominant hits and he gives it everything. He’s the type of player you’d want to play with.”

Unhappy memories

Although Leinster have already topped the pool and qualified for a home quarter-final ahead of Saturday’s trip to Montpellier, the players are keen to exorcise some unhappy memories from French trips over the past three years and in trying to do so adhere to the attacking principles the Irish province has offered in the campaign to date.

Henshaw ventures: “We need to go over there with more of an attacking mindset, a mindset that we need to start quicker than we did over there last year. It’s a different atmosphere, the stadiums are different, the crowds are different but we need to put that to one side and treat it like a normal game. We need to go and attack them from minute one and just give it our all. In previous years we were slow to get out of the blocks.

“We need to put down a marker and have to win be it ugly or be it scoring a lot of tries. If we’re to take a step further than we did last year, we need to be comfortable and be uncomfortable over there, but come out on the winning side. I think for us to lay down a real marker in this competition we want a clean sweep.”

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