Leinster’s huge boost as Henshaw set for return
IRELAND Six Nations star Robbie Henshaw is set to give Leinster a major fitness boost ahead of Saturday’s European Champions Cup semi-final against the Scarlets in Dublin.
The powerful centre hasn’t played since damaging his shoulder in the act of scoring during the Championship romp against Italy in February.
The 2017 British and Irish Lions tourist took part in Leinster’s captain’s run and their warm-up prior to the surprise home Guinness PRO14 defeat to Benetton at the RDS on Saturday.
And head coach Leo Cullen is optimistic Henshaw could play a part against the Scarlets.
“Exactly, yeah, that’s the hope,” said Cullen. “It was good to get him back for the match day warm-up.
“He did a good bit of training this week. He’s getting closer.”
However, another Ireland star, back-rower Sean O’Brien, is struggling to prove his fitness for the Aviva Stadium showdown.
O’Brien has been plagued by injury issues since the Lions tour and only managed 41 minutes of his comeback game at the RDS.
Like the Scarlets, who were without the majority of their firstchoice XV for the 52-14 hammering by Edinburgh, Leinster also rested key personnel for the clash with the Italians.
“For us, it’s just about making sure we recover well and get ourselves ready for what is a hugely exciting game to be involved in,” Cullen added.
“We’re very clear about the plan in our minds going into the game.
“We know what potentially gets us into trouble against the Scarlets, we know on the flip side, if we get certain things right, like we did against Saracens (in the quarter-final), we can produce good moments and things in games, it’s about trying to focus on what makes this game tick.”
Cullen also believes Wayne Pivac’s side have improved since their stunning PRO12 semi-final play-off win at the RDS last May.
“It’s quite a long time ago now,” he said.
“I’ve looked back at that footage and there’s a good few different characters.
“I think the mix of the teams is slightly different. I think Scarlets are a better team now so I hope we’ll be better now than we were last year as well.
“That’s what we’ve tried to focus on, getting better and putting ourselves in a position where we’ve ensured we’re at home for a semi-final in Europe, so the crowd, the support we get will be huge.
“It was fantastic in the Saracens game and hopefully it’s the same this week.
“It’s a huge week for the club.”