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16th Jul 2023

Two additions to leadership group in Ireland’s World Cup squad confirmed

Patrick McCarry

Ireland team

“That is definitely something Faz has spoken about growing.”

While Warren Gatland has been putting his Welsh World Cup hopefuls through the wringer, Iain Henderson is thankful that Andy Farrell has taken player feedback on-board.

The Ireland squad is still being put through some swift paces and pushed extremely hard, but nowhere like that Wales boot-camp that involved players being plagued by sounds of crying babies and placed in hoods before being drenched in water.

This is the third World Cup training squad Henderson has been involved in and he is delighted that Farrell is continuing on his coaching trend of gauging the opinions of his men and planning accordingly. It paid off with a 10-Test winning streak that includes a series victory in New Zealand and a Six Nations Grand Slam.

While he seeks that feedback from his wider squad, there is a leadership group within the group that often comes up with suggestions and works with the coaching and backroom staff on scheduling, social outings, travel plans and more.

That group, which includes the likes of Johnny Sexton, Peter O’Mahony, Tadhg Furlong, Garry Ringrose, James Ryan and Henderson himself now has a couple of additions.

World CupIreland players, from left, Caelan Doris and Hugo Keenan. (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile)

Iain Henderson on expanded leadership group

Following the Grand Slam victory, back in March, Johnny Sexton spoke of the leadership group and how there had been a couple of additions. Speaking with us at the launch of Ireland’s World Cup kits, Iain Henderson confirmed those changes.

“Faz has kept that group together, with a couple of the younger guys that come in during the Six Nations, Hugo Keenan and Caelan Doris,” he said.

“Faz wants everyone in the squad to be a leader, and those guys were definitely leaders in our squad, even before they were added to the leadership group.”

For all of the positives regarding this clear line of communication between the wider squad and the coaches, with players encouraged to speak their mind and be themselves, Henderson points out that being overly prescriptive is not the sole desire.

“Having that title of being in a leadership group, I think, is almost flawed,” he said. “That, kind of by definition, says the other guys aren’t leaders.

“Like, saying that Josh van der Flier isn’t a leader, or Robbie Henshaw or Bundee Aki, doesn’t make sense. They are as much leaders as anyone else in the squad. That is definitely something Faz has spoken about growing, and people being themselves, taking ownership of what they do and leading in their own way. That’s something that everybody can do in this squad, as well.”

Some of the training squad do prefer to get about their own business and leave the committees, and extra get-togethers, be. Whatever Ireland are doing right now, it appears to be working nicely.

Ireland jerseyIain Henderson was speaking at the launch of Canterbury’s Ireland Rugby World Cup Jerseys which will be worn by the team in France this autumn. The jerseys are on sale now at Canterbury.com, and via Intersports Elverys, in store and on Elverys.ie.

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