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Wednesday 19 December 2018

'Insane' Robbie sets standard for brilliant Leinster

KEY MAN: Leinster’s Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Scarlets Gareth Davies during Saturday’s clash at the Aviva. Photo: SPORTSFILE
KEY MAN: Leinster’s Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Scarlets Gareth Davies during Saturday’s clash at the Aviva. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Robbie Henshaw encapsulated everything good about what Leinster did to demolish The Scarlets in what was presumed to be a close contest.

It was what Jonathan Sexton called an "insane" performance, the seeds of which were sown out of anger and frustration.

A moment of joy turned sour when Henshaw separated his shoulder in the act of scoring a try against Italy in mid-February.

The Athlone man missed out on the remainder of Ireland's Grand Slam and was reported to be a Leinster lost cause for the season.

This was as widely-speculated as it was wide of the mark.

The shoulder dislocation did not require a reconstruction, but a less serious procedure.

It left the door just ajar for an outside shot at making the Champions Cup semi-final as long as Leinster could take out the champions in the quarter-final.

There was not one minute, of one day, to waste for Henshaw. The man just would not be denied.

Serious

"He is just literally straight in, into his rehab from Day one," said coach Leo Cullen.

"Karl Denvir (senior physiotherapist) has been working with him. It is a serious effort to get back in that time-frame," agreed the head coach.

BOSS: Head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: SPORTSFILE
BOSS: Head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: SPORTSFILE

"The surgeon, he had allowed him to push on aggressively and what he delivered out there was incredible."

Henshaw ranks as one of those who leads with his heart and his head.

"He is a great individual Robbie," added Cullen.

"When Connacht won the PRO12 in Murrayfield, I said afterwards in the press (conference) I was glad that player was going to be in our team next year.

"But, yeah, he has been brilliant addition for us.

Business

"He has set a great example to everyone else around him, the way he goes about his business."

The hard yards are two words that most define Henshaw's game, just what you get when a natural athlete inherits the genes of a prop from his father Tony. This is beginning to look like a Leinster outfit that can be better, not just as good as, those that have gone before them.

They have to recapture the European Cup before any serious comparisons can be made.

However, for all of the achievements of 2009, 2011 and 2012, none of those Leinster line-ups could go through the competition without a scar of at least a draw on the résúme.

Cullen's charges will do that with one more win, something only Saracens have done in the history of the competition.

There is also the matter of the European Cup-PRO14 League double which Brian O'Driscoll and the boys could not complete.

Leinster coach Cullen will be wary about any crowning of the kings of Europe before they have even risen to the throne.

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