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Henshaw hails captain O'Connell as our true hero

Sometimes it's better left to others.

While Paul O'Connell would not be drawn on whether he is as good now at 35 as he has ever been in his long, illustrious career, Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw had no problem cutting to the chase.

"He's a true captain, a hero for our team," said the Athlone man.

"We all just build on the good things he does and he does everything for the team."

It was never better demonstrated than when O'Connell thundered into the ribs of Ben McCalman fast-tracking the Australian number eight back on his heels and lifting the home crowd onto their feet.

"That's just him as a leader and it just shows his role in the team. He's unbelievable," said Henshaw.

"That just gave everyone a lift in the team when we were blowing hard and trying to go through the phases of their attack.

"It just shows Paul stepping up and leading the line up and making, I think it was two or three big tackles which shifted momentum our way."

Indeed, the rugby ghost of Brian O'Driscoll still lingers in a practical way for Henshaw as he took another giant stride in convincing Joe Schmidt that he is the heir apparent at thirteen with Jared Payne looking good there too.

"It was pretty hectic. It was a very fast-paced game, the fastest game I've played this year," he said.

Last week, Jonathan Sexton brought attention to the dramatic change in Henshaw over the spread of a year as a man unrecognisable from the boy who wandered into Carton House for Ireland camp last season.

"I don't know if they targeted me but they certainly made me make a lot of decisions in the game and I don't think I made too many errors.

"You learn from teams like that and a team with a skill set like theirs is quite unbelievable.

"They are hard runners as well as players that can play tip passes and long and wide balls to the wings. It certainly put us under pressure sometimes.

"But we worked hard during the week on a couple of their plays. We had a look at them in detail. It was a tough task.

"But I'm glad I passed the test."


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