Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Henry delight at Nick's deal

Chris Henry is delighted that Ulster colleague Nick Williams has signed a new contract

Chris Henry was in an upbeat mood following yesterday's training session at Newforge after learning that back row colleague Nick Williams had signed a two-year contract extension.

That was just the sort of news he and his Ulster team-mates wanted ahead of the game with Ospreys in Swansea tomorrow night.

"We were scrummaging earlier and he'd a big smile on his face. He didn't tell me why but I know now," a delighted Henry said.

"It's great news. He has been an unbelievable signing for Ulster, not only as a player but as a guy. He's just fantastic and everybody loves him. He's such a lovely fella to have around. His family obviously loves it here and him committing to another two years is really exciting news for Ulster.

"I think the players around him complement him; we know how good he is at going forward into a brick wall – he creates things from nothing and that's something we try to use.

"We want to nick (pun unintentional) the ball as much as possible and he helps us do that. He's just a really exciting player to have in your team.

"Mark (Anscombe) knew him before he came here and I think he must have known Nick needed a good pre-season. If you asked the big guy himself he'd tell you the strength and conditioning coaches did a really good job with him; he's back to fighting fit and when he's on form, well ... ..

"He's causing headaches for the coaches because Roger (Wilson, pictured) is playing his best rugby for some time, so they have to choose which of them starts."

Ulster's most recent visit to south Wales was something of a disaster. Back on September 6 they lost 15-8 to Newport Gwent Dragons, traditionally the Principality's whipping boys.

"That game was a bit surreal because I honestly thought we were going there to put on a great performance and get a win," Henry said. "The fact is that it just didn't happen for us."

Asked what he thought had gone wrong, he replied: "With it being the first match and us having a very young team I think there was a lot of nerves. We ended up making a lot of mistakes we normally wouldn't make.

"I also thought the referee had a big effect on that game. It was very stop-start, which isn't what we're about. We prefer a high-tempo game so that we can move teams around, and we weren't allowed to do that on the night.

"I think we've probably played worse games and won, maybe by getting a last-minute penalty. That's something that hasn't happened for us yet this year.

"You're not going to go a whole season playing your best rugby week by week; sometimes it's just about grinding wins out. Newport was a bad night and when we lost the next one to Glasgow it would have been very easy to start feeling the pressure and maybe going inside ourselves.

"It's a lot of credit to everyone involved that we stayed calm and kept our composure.

We realised that we're a good side and we started playing again. We got a good result down in Galway and last week, I thought, was a great performance.

"We scored some great tries against Treviso, so hopefully we're now starting to get a bit of form at just the right time.

"This weekend is about going to Ospreys and revving it up. We want to go into Europe confident about the way we're playing and there's no better way to build confidence than by beating Ospreys away."

Emphasising the importance of having big name players back, Henry added: "Last week having Rory (Best) and Tommy (Bowe) in the team was massive.

"They just lift everybody. You just look at the way they train and everyone responds to that. Everyone just wanted to match the intensity they brought to training and playing so the buzz was fantastic.

"It's the same this week, too. John (Afoa) has obviously returned and Stuart Olding has recovered from injury, so slowly but surely we're getting everyone back.

"And with Ruan (Pienaar) coming back next week, too, it's a pretty exciting place to be."

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