Robbie Henshaw: Decision to move to Leinster was mine

Ireland centre admits he lost sleep as he pondered Connacht departure

Robbie Henshaw yesterday revealed that he agonised over his decision to leave Connacht for Leinster next season, thanking his current province for his development and vowing to maintain their pursuit of silverware and top-six qualification for next season's European Champions Cup, while confirming it was "entirely" his decision.

Henshaw also revealed that he made his choice two weeks ago. “[It was] an extremely tough decision for me – a lot of lost sleep over it. It was very close in the end. Obviously I’ve been saying to myself that I’ve let a few people down in Connacht .

"It was a little bit distracting. I wanted it done and dusted before the Six Nations, but it just dragged. But it is done now. It kind of was in my mind in advance that I would be letting people down. It was completely my decision. Just so people know, it wasn't the IRFU's decision, it was mine.

"But it's a new challenge for me and I really want to thank everybody in Connacht because they've invested a lot in me for the last four years. The fans, Pat Lam, Eric Elwood, Nigel Carolan. It's just been unbelievable for me and they got me to the next level.


“I tried to give as much to them as I could in the last four years and I will continue to do so until the end of the year for Connacht, that’s my goal.”

Henshaw added: “For myself, it was just a couple of personal things. My girlfriend is in Dublin and I have family in Dublin. I just feel it’s a new stage for me, a complete change for my career. There’s nothing negative at all, it’s just what’s best for Robbie Henshaw.”


As well as personal factors, the lure of working with Johnny Sexton and other Irish players in the Leinster set-up was another factor. "To be able to learn from guys like him, Seán O'Brien, Cian Healy, guys with 60-plus caps for Ireland, will benefit me in the long term. I think Johnny alone is an unbelievable player and I learn a lot from him just from being in Ireland camp. To be with him every day will be good."

His uncle Dave played for Connacht, and he admitted his family may have slightly split loyalties next season. “They will still be Connacht and, soon, Leinster ticket holders.”

Reflecting on last week’s “sickening defeat” in Paris, Henshaw lamented his own role in the Maxime Médard try. “I was pretty disappointed with myself when I came ahead of Mads and lost my footing going into the tackle. There was a couple of things I had to look at myself and get right individually, but it was a sickening result to lose by a point.

“We knew going into the second half that we needed to score some points if we were going to win. We failed to do that.”


Although he scored the match-winning try in last season's corresponding win over England, Henshaw cited the World Cup warm-up defeat at Twickenham as a warning.

“I think the tempo they play at and the individuals in their side are world class, so we just need to be ready and connected in defence. The likes of Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, Mike Brown, they’re all electric on their feet and we can’t afford to slip up. We need to make our tackles and front up.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times