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I will flourish if I’m targeted by the All Blacks, insists Henshaw

 

By Tom Allnutt

Robbie Henshaw may be a marked man when the British and Irish Lions face New Zealand this summer but the Ireland centre has warned hard hits will only make him play better.

Henshaw scored the winning try in Ireland’s historic victory over the All Blacks in November and he is now hoping for a repeat, with the Lions beginning their three-Test series in June.

New Zealand avenged that loss in Chicago, beating Ireland in Dublin after a ferocious contest that included Henshaw being carried off on a stretcher.

Henshaw sustained a head injury following Sam Cane’s high, shoulder-led tackle that many felt warranted at least a yellow.

The last time the Lions toured New Zealand, in 2005, their star player and captain Brian O’Driscoll survived only 41 seconds of the opening Test, forced off and ruled out of the rest of the series after a spear-tackle.

Henshaw says he is ready for the physical onslaught, which is likely to start in the Lions’ six warm-up matches before the Test series even begins.

“It’s part of it,” Henshaw said. “On their side it’s a great opportunity for those guys to play against a quality outfit. To have that bit of niggle, that is needed and it gets both teams going.

“I like that niggle in the game, it makes it more exciting to be involved in. The higher the physicality the better for me.”

Henshaw is undertaking his first Lions series and the Leinster back said he has met both O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy, both former players of the Irish province, for advice.

“I’ve met both during the year for a catch-up about their experiences, in particular Brian has been really good, his experience is invaluable,” Henshaw said.

“I caught up with them and picked their brains. Just coming out of your shell was one of the main things mentioned — not to be too shy, to mingle with everyone and get to know the lads and have good craic with them.”

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