Saturday 18 November 2017

Sleeping giant Iain Henderson ready to answer the call for France test

Iain Henderson
Iain Henderson

Iain Henderson has been called "a genetic freak" by Rory Best, "a man-child" by Andrew Trimble and "a real beast" by Ireland captain Paul O'Connell.

The superlatives outnumber the 'nicknames' as Henderson has made the transition from a boy with a big body to a man with a growing knowledge of how to use it.

Ulster's man mountain has always had the physical tools to prosper at international level, not always the uncompromising approach off the field to match that on it.

The 'Lazy Boy', a reclining chair made fashionable by the hit American series 'Friends,' could have been invented for him.

He is happiest when horizontal.

Always-on Ireland coach Joe Schmidt must have taken time to embrace Henderson's constant need to switch off.

There is something of former Leinster and Ireland lock Malcolm O'Kelly about his laid back nature.

"With Joe and all his meetings, I have to have alarms constantly set," he said.

"Few things keep me awake at night. It's harder to keep me awake during the day.

"I like a wee nap. Paul (O'Connell) has been commenting on the amount of naps I get in in the afternoon."

The Ulster management, Schmidt and O'Connell have all been behind the improvements shown by Henderson.

"I think with Iain, he's always been a super athlete but I think his understanding of the game has improved," said Schmidt.

"He's starting to match his athleticism with his understanding and then starting to really deliver in more of the elements of the game.

"He's pretty keen to continue adding value and we're pretty keen that he does."

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