Robbie Henshaw to 'destroy' the best England can throw at him
'Robbie, Robbie, Robbie!'
The chant filled the Galwegian air today as Connacht rugby supporters filled The Sportsground to watch Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad get put through their paces.
Ireland are out west for a couple of days and got in some early prep for the upcoming England game by testing themselves in training drills against Pat Lam's Connacht.
Lam is pleased to have Henshaw's future settled, in the media at least, and believes the 22-year-old will be able to handle whatever the English run his way on Sunday week.
'It's funny,' says Lam. 'The story went one way and now it has gone back to what we were saying the whole time. Nothing has changed. He's signed until next year and he's happy to be here and we'll carry on.
'People will write stories but we'll carry on as nothing has changed.'
As for possible ambitions to sign Henshaw up beyond June 2016, Lam says that will remain "in-house".
Lam believes Henshaw, an Athlone native, epitomises Connacht's 'grass roots to green shirts' philosophy and is an inspiration to his fellow teammates and the team's young supporters. 'You hear all the chanting,' Lam says, 'Robbie, Robbie, Robbie. Many of them were watching him, three years ago, playing for Marist College. Now, he's playing for Ireland.' Lam adds:
'I'm extremely proud. He just looks so comfortable out there. He looks world-class. The thing that has impressed me most about him has been his mind-set around never taking a backward step, particularly defensively.
Whether it was Mathieu Bastareaud or one of the bigger guys coming through, up front, he just loves putting his body on the line and trying to destroy people. He just does not look out of place and he will only go from strength to strength.'
Lam credits former Connacht coach Eric Elwood for putting Henshaw into his senior squad at an early age and feels his player looks at home at the highest level of the game.
He says, '60-plus games here and now going to the Irish set-up. He wasn't involved in the 2014 Six Nations but was heavily involved behind the scenes. He looks more and more comfortable and is going to be that number one guy on the team sheet.'
Hat-tip: Word in Sport