RBS 6 Nations: Taste of glory has Chris Henry dreaming of future silverware
Ulster flanker Chris Henry's stock in Irish rugby has soared as a result of an outstanding RBS 6 Nations Championship in which he had the unenviable task of filling in for Leinster star Sean O'Brien.
And in the warm afterglow of Saturday night's championship-clinching 22-20 victory over France in Paris, Henry confirmed that having sampled success at international level he wants more of the same.
Trying to put into words how it felt when Australian referee Steve Walsh blew the full-time whistle, he beamed: "It was a bit like, 'What do you do now?' And then a smile just came on my face and I plan to keep it now – it will hard to take off me!"
But rather than wallowing in Ireland's 12th outright title triumph since the championship came into being in 1883 when only the four Home Countries contested it, even at this stage Henry is keen to push on.
"It's been awesome to win something and hopefully this is a springboard for Ireland and then hopefully the provinces," he said.
"We'll enjoy this and then it's back to work. Certainly from my own perspective I'm going to use this as a real springboard and hopefully move forward."
This is not the first trophy-winning Irish side of which Henry has been part of. He explained: "I was involved in the Churchill Cup (2009) but this is the first medal.
"I haven't won anything with Ulster throughout the years and this is why it's that bit special."
The question as to whether he feels this really can be a launch-pad for Ireland drew this response."I do. When we have been really clinical, when we know what we're about and execute the way Joe wants us to do it, we are a dangerous side," he said.
"And we have a squad of players. Once again the bench came on and did a good job and that's the way it's been in all these games. So I can't see why we can't move forward; we have to move forward –it would be a shame not to.
"I think we have a great balance of youth and experience. It's going to be odd now without Brian there at the next camp and it's sad as well that this is it for him.
"But that's the way rugby goes and it's a massive run into the World Cup now. We've got a springboard now."
As for the return to action of his Ulster colleague Stephen Ferris, after 14 months out through injury, Henry delighted in sharing the fact that he had been able to watch televised coverage of his province chalking up a bonus point win over Scarlets on Friday night at Ravenhill.
"Yeah, we set up in the team room," Henry said. "Rossy (Mike Ross) got it set up for us on the internet and when he (Ferris) first came on we saw it was going to be a box-kick from a line-out and you sort of knew something special was going to happen!"
It did; Scarlets full-back Jordan Williams got the ball and Ferris drove him back 15 metres.
"That's the Stevie Ferris I know, that's why I love playing with him," said Henry.
"He's a wrecking ball. It's just great that he got through it okay."