Hen­der­son ready to be Ire­land’s ‘force of na­ture’

The Daily Telegraph - Rugby World Cup - - Sport Rugby World Cup 2015 - By Tom Cary

For all the talk in the build-up to this World Cup of Johnny Sex­ton be­ing Ire­land’s key player, and the need for Joe Sch­midt’s back line to run in a hat­ful of points in their open­ing Pool D clash against Canada this af­ter­noon, the eve of the game fo­cused on sec­ond rows.

The se­lec­tion of Iain Hen­der­son has cre­ated a real buzz in the Ire­land camp, with hopes that the Ul­ster player can forge a dy­namic part­ner­ship with cap­tain Paul O’Con­nell at this World Cup af­ter beat­ing Devin Toner – O’Con­nell’s reg­u­lar sec­ond-row part­ner – to se­lec­tion for the first game.

Hen­der­son, still only 23, has long been touted as the next big thing in Ir­ish rugby, al­beit some, in­clud­ing for­mer Ul­ster and Ire­land back-row for­ward Stephen Fer­ris, be­lieve he is bet­ter suited to blind­side flanker than lock.

Ire­land’s head coach de­scribed him as a “force of na­ture” on Thurs- day, while thir de­fence coach, Les Kiss, yesterday urged the Ul­ster­man to grab his op­por­tu­nity with both hands.

“The po­ten­tial is there and if he’s got his mind on and his head right, he can be a dam­ag­ing player,” Kiss said.

The other big talk­ing point yesterday re­volved around whether there would be any nig­gle be­tween O’Con­nell and Canada’s en­forcer and cap­tain, Jamie Cud­more.

O’Con­nell fa­mously got into a scrap with the 37-year-old Clermont lock back in 2008, which re­sulted in Cud­more be­ing sent off and O’Con­nell given time in the sin bin.

Cud­more said he did not ex­pect any re­peat of that, adding that he had al­ready made up with O’Con­nell, pre­sent­ing the Ire­land cap­tain with a bot­tle from his ‘Sin-Bin’ wine range when Mun­ster faced Clermont in France last sea­son. “I gave Paul a bot­tle of white, that we call the ‘Yel­low Card’, and my­self a bot­tle of red, pok­ing fun at 2008,” Cud­more said.

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