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Henshaw at centre of debate with Payne ruled out


Ireland's Robbie Henshaw. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Ireland's Robbie Henshaw. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE


Ireland's Robbie Henshaw. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

ROBBIE HENSHAW could have to move to thirteen to play against Australia given Jared Payne has been ruled out with a foot injury.

The logical deduction is for the return of Gordon D'Arcy to twelve ahead of Stuart Olding, who was brought on at full-back against Georgia.

"I don't think it's too much of an issue (where he plays)," said forwards coach Simon Easterby.

"Twelve and 13 is different, clearly, but there are lots of similarities and a lot of sides now will give a certain centre the no 13 jersey but he'll play in the 12 role at certain times, and vice versa."

Therefore, it is most likely Henshaw will have to play both centre roles in consecutive internationals. It is a lot to put on his plate against such a slick Wallaby attack.

"He had a really good game against South Africa. But, he was backed up as well by what was around him," said Easterby.

"It was Jared's first test. But, he's an experienced rugby player and a lot of that would have rubbed off on Robbie.

"The same with what was inside Robbie with Johnny (Sexton) and you've got Tommy (Bowe) outside and Kearns (Rob Kearney) at full-back.

"I think Robbie's in a good place at the moment. He's a real competent kid. But, let's not put too much pressure on him.

"He didn't play against Georgia and whoever partners him, whether it be Stuart or D'Arce, has a big job to do."

The return of fit-again Rory Best to the front-row would stiffen Ireland's resolve at scrum-time where Australia fared better than expected against France last Saturday night.

The Ulster hooker is a throwback to amateur times, when athletes were reserved for the Olympics. He is a hound for set-piece action.

Whereas his throwing has recently wavered, his commitment to the dark arts has never dropped.

"Every player in whatever position they're in, they have different attributes and they bring different things to the game. Rory's a very good scrummaging hooker," said Easterby.

"But, that doesn't mean to say the others can't cope and aren't working hard at it. Every player has something that other players haven't got.

"That's the same as any player in every other position but the scrum, especially with (Greg) Feeky, has really been worked on this last couple of weeks".

There were penalties conceded against South Africa, Georgia last Saturday which indicated a missing link between the Six Nations and November.

"It was bittersweet after the South Africa match in terms of feeling like we'd just knocked over a very good team but there were certain elements of our game, our lineout ball-winning and our scrum, which just weren't good enough.

"As a whole, the forwards in particular, myself and Feeky, we took that on the chin and we've worked really hard to improve that."