Belfast Telegraph

Leinster's Henshaw is thrilled to see partnership with Ringrose blossom

By Cian Tracey

Leinster's Robbie Henshaw is adjusting well to life as the elder statesman in his blooming midfield partnership with Garry Ringrose.

It's a role that Henshaw hasn't played that often but he has learned from some pretty experienced campaigners.

Not that Ringrose needs much of a helping hand, mind you. Just 19 months separate the pair and if their performance in Franklin's Gardens last week was anything to go by, they will go on to fulfil everything expected of them.

"It's going really well with Garry," Henshaw enthused. "It was great to have him in (Ireland) camp. I was closer to him for a few weeks in the November period. Unfortunately, I didn't get to play with him against Australia.

"He is getting better and better and we're finding out more about each other. The relationship is growing. We have a good feeling from one another.

"Garry is a natural 13. He is unbelievable at what he does. I love to get the ball into his hands and let him do his thing. It's working well and, hopefully, it will continue to work."

Northampton arrive in Dublin this evening in total disarray and their team selection would suggest their focus has switched to improving on their lowly ninth place in the Premiership.

That is not to say that Jim Mallinder's men will roll over in the same manner that most French teams do when their European race is run, but Leinster are hitting form.

Zane Kirchner replaces the injured Rob Kearney at full-back, while out-half Ross Byrne is handed his first European start.

Before Joey Carbery came along and so brilliantly hogged the limelight, it was Byrne who was widely regarded as the next in line to Jonathan Sexton. Injuries, however, have stunted his progress.

Boss Leo Cullen said: "When I saw him first in school I saw the similarities (between Sexton).

"Even in terms of body shape - they are taller guys. He has a very strong kicking game and he has good game management sense as well and good presence on the field.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him play at the Aviva. He has played a lot of big games in terms of under-age and he has got a good temperament."

JJ Hanrahan has shrugged off an ankle problem to start on Irish soil. The Munster-bound playmaker impressed last week and will be desperate to do so again this evening.

Henshaw said of Hanrahan's performance in his side's thumping defeat: "I thought he was sharp.

"He set up their try in the first half off the scrum and put the man away in the corner. Yeah, he was sharp. I'm sure he'll be pumped, ready to go again.

"I played him a bit under-age. I played against him at Munster a couple of times. Yeah, I'd know him quite well. We need to be sharp on our feet to defend their threats in the midfield."

Belfast Telegraph

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