Monday 11 December 2017

News of Ireland's riches reaches as far away as the vaunted All Blacks

Robbie Henshaw is being mentored by Brian O'Driscoll in his bid to assume the retired centre's Ireland mantle
Robbie Henshaw is being mentored by Brian O'Driscoll in his bid to assume the retired centre's Ireland mantle
Ireland international Robbie Henshaw

Success can be a mother of all loads to carry.

It creates a level of expectation for Ireland and a level of interest as far away as New Zealand.

There is a theory the Kiwis look within for their coaches. Even Graham Henry made his name at Auckland long before he did in Wales ahead of leading his country to their second World Cup in 2011.

In an article, published on the official All Blacks website yesterday, an overview of the first three rounds of the Six Nations zeroes in on the impact of Ireland's Joe Schmidt, Jonathan Sexton and Robbie Henshaw.

"Joe Schmidt is working his magic," wrote James Mortimer.

"The one time Ranfurly Shield coach has now matched Ireland's greatest ever winning streak (10).

"This victory comes after England ruined their Grand Slam dream last year - their last loss - and now Argentina (twice), Australia and South Africa have been conquered.

"If the mighty feat of a Slam is achieved, it will be difficult for the Irish to keep their craic under control heading into the Rugby World Cup," said Mortimer.

It could just be the beginning of the eventual return of Schmidt to his homeland in what is the logical journey's end for him. There isn't a New Zealand rugby coach alive who would turn down the chance to lead the All Blacks.

There was high praise too for Ireland's general Jonathan Sexton, who now stands comparison with Dan Carter, at least in the northern hemisphere.

"If Ireland is becoming -or has become - the biggest local threat ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, then the most dangerous man among the squad is Jonathan Sexton.

"Hailed in the old continent as the best number ten operating in the game, his performance against England showed why he is held in such esteem.

"First five-eighths in the Southern Hemisphere might bristle at this tag.

"But they won't deny the perils the 29-year-old can bring to an opposition defence."

The rocketing rise of Henshaw has not gone unnoticed either, his first international try seeming to seal his burgeoning reputation.

"The weight of a player, like any human being, can be a fickle thing, but most guides agree that 21-year-old Athlone born Robbie Henshaw, weighs just over 16 stone in the old language (102kg)."

The physicality of Henshaw does commit to mind the presence of current All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams.

"He may not have the hands that throw passes like silk rain in the midfield (BOD)," he added.

"But the Irish now have a raw power that looks at home in the chaos of an international centre channel.

"The athletic back scored what was, considering England's fightback in the back end, the match-winning try.

"More importantly, it has ensured that Ireland need only pay their respects to Brian O'Driscoll.

"They need not mourn his absence with the likes of the Connacht wunderkind stepping into the midfield."

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