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Schmidt backs Henry to return

Joe Schmidt has backed Chris Henry to make a full recovery from his brain injury, and maybe even stake a claim for Ireland action in the Six Nations.

Ulster flanker Henry suffered "a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain" on the morning of Ireland's clash with South Africa on November 8.

The 30-year-old is recuperating at home while still awaiting further tests to determine his exact situation, but may have suffered a mini-stroke.

Doubts have been raised about his ability to return to rugby, but Ireland head coach Schmidt said he is "quietly confident" Henry will be back for club and country.

"I really feel for Chris: this time last year he got injured at this point and missed the two big southern hemisphere teams we played," said Schmidt.

"The fact that he's got some more tests to come, I wouldn't really like to comment.

"But I'd be quietly confident that Chris will come through the other side.

"I'd be very hopeful that he gets his boots back on; and there may even be time for him to do that before the Six Nations.

"The specialists will let us know a bit more once those tests have come through."

Ireland medics initially diagnosed a virus on the morning of the Springboks clash before suspecting a severe migraine, but specialists have since determined a more unusual condition.

Henry now "needs further investigation and specialist opinion," according to an Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) statement released on Monday.

"Chris Henry suffered some weakness on the morning of the South Africa game and a viral illness was suspected, he recovered quickly and the initial diagnosis was of severe migraine," read the IRFU statement.

"Further tests however have shown he suffered a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain.

"He is at home now and is well but needs further investigation and specialist opinion."

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