Henshaw optimistic about returning before the end of the season
Leinster centre making good progress as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder
Robbie Henshaw: “Everything is going really well at the moment, roughly halfway there, so at least my target is that I’m not ruled out for the rest of the season.” Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Robbie Henshaw is on course to play rugby for Leinster this season if the rehabilitation process from the dislocated shoulder he suffered against Italy continues to progress at the same pace as it has done over the past five weeks.
The Leinster man suffered in a freak incident while scoring a second try in the big win over the Italians at the Aviva.
“Everything is going really well at the moment, roughly halfway there, so at least my target is that I’m not ruled out for the rest of the season. It has me in a good mindset. I’ll just have to take it week to week, but definitely the physios and the medical staff have been really impressed with how it has been going,” said Henshaw.
The timelines are interesting.
If Leinster beat the two-time and defending champions Saracens on Sunday week, the Champions Cup semi-finals are on the weekend of April 20th-22nd, a tad early perhaps to pencil in a return for Henshaw.
But a potential European final (May 5th), and a Pro14 semi-final (the weekend of May 18th-20th), should Leinster make the penultimate stage of that tournament, appear realistic targets.
The key though is to be patient and not be tempted into a premature return.
He said: “Absolutely, you go through the process and hit all your markers. Sports science and the medical side of things being so precise now, you have to be precise on your testing and if it’s not right at the end of it then you have to take another few weeks to get it right.
“Certainly if it’s not right at the end point then I won’t be rushing it because there is no point. I’ll push it as hard and as fast as I can to get back.”
Henshaw had been in outstanding form and Leinster would dearly love to have him back before the season ends.
His enforced sabbatical from rugby has allowed him to catch up on his studies in pursuing an Arts degree in Economics and Geography at UCD.
“I have got in more lectures this last few weeks than I had the last few years. It’s actually been a nice way to switch away from all the rehab and all the rugby and to finish out my degree,” he added.
It also enabled him to travel to Twickenham with his partner and join in Ireland’s Grand Slam celebrations having managed to finagle a pass into the dressing room area where he joined his team-mates for a beer. He admitted to being a ‘bit jumpy’ during the game and that he would get off his seat if an Irish player did something of note but without ‘roaring and shouting’.
Unsurprisingly he immediately recognised the midfield sleight-of-hand and running lines for CJ Stander’s try, given that he was the player put through a gap the only other time the move was used, three years ago against England.
“It was the perfect move and I think the skill that Tadhg Furlong showed to pivot and not throw that ball forward was unbelievable. For Bundee [Aki] to pick out a blind pass to CJ was an incredible piece of skill because the usual pass would be to Garry [Ringrose] but he [Aki] noticed that there were two defenders on him [Ringrose]. It was a great piece of decision-making and execution.”
Henshaw paid tribute to his old Connacht midfield buddy and the ever-changing phalanx of centre partners during the Six Nations.
“For him it would be incredibly hard to adapt to how different players play. But he took it in his stride. He was a rock in the middle of the park for us. His defence and his attack were great. He was definitely in a tricky situation there with new players coming in. He’s been brilliant for his first year in and he is just going to adapt and get better.”
The eagle-eyed may have spotted a newly construed ritual at the end of the game where the Ireland players stood in a circle, following Aki’s lead in singing and clapping in unison.
“He brought it to Connacht and the lads asked me to come up with something, just to sign off training, so I knew Bundee had this.
“When Pat Lam was in Connacht, he had it and then it was in Samoan, so we brought it into Ireland camp and I gave him [Aki] the words in Irish to say and what way we’d sign off. It’s just kind of a collective thing we do at the end, just a bit of craic to finish off the session on a high.”
Twickenham provided a rather fitting backdrop.