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Wales will be determined to save campaign when we go to Cardiff, warns Henderson

By Jonathan Bradley

Events in Murrayfield on Saturday ensured Wales will have no designs on the Six Nations crown when Ireland travel to Cardiff next Friday, but Iain Henderson believes the result in Edinburgh will make things even tougher for Joe Schmidt's side.

Wales have now lost two of their three games, while under the new bonus point system even beating Italy with only three tries can be considered something of a disappointment, with Henderson now expecting a backlash under the Principality Stadium lights.

"I don't think you ever rule out Wales in the Millennium Stadium," said the lock who appeared in Ireland's win over France as a second half substitute.

"After a defeat which they'll be upset about, if the shoe was on the other foot and they were coming to the Aviva in this situation, we would be wanting to make an impact and give our home fans the best performance we could.

"I know it's a cliché, that we're next game focused but after Scotland we knew we had to win the next four games or not win the championship.

"We've had to overcome a really good France side, a pretty good Italian side, and now Wales.

"We'll be massively next match focused and prepare for Wales which we know will be massively tough in the Millennium Stadium."

Saturday's win over France marked the return to action of Johnny Sexton after a calf complaint, with the Leinster man controlling matters well, and Henderson believes the competition between the 31-year-old and his own provincial team-mate Paddy Jackson will bring out the best of both men.

"Johnny is massively competitive and I'm sure he wants to get back even more when he sees Jacko playing well," said the forward who turned 25 last week.

"Jacko is constantly learning from Johnny and they bounce off each other and work really well together.

"Johnny gives confidence to the team with that experience of playing outside Conor Murray.

"A lot of the boys were happy with Jacko's performances but obviously Johnny has a fair bit of experience, big game experience too.

"It was great to see him come through the game unscathed and Jacko finishing the game out well.

"It's fantastic to have two fly-halves and everyone has massive confidence in both of them.

"They can interchange, come on and off. They both run the game really well."

He added: "It's a really big asset to Ireland to have Jacko on the bench playing well, everyone has massive confidence in him. "The way he played against South Africa, he was fantastic, and then seeing the game out against Australia. "Scotland wasn't our ideal game, but Italy again he ran the show fantastically."

Henderson's was sat close to Jackson throughout much of the game of course, having not been able to regain his starting place after the minor hamstring strain that kept him out of the game against Italy.

While Henderson looks set for a battle with Donnacha Ryan for the lock spot alongside Devin Toner, the Academy man stresses he is happy with whatever role Schmidt gives him as long as the team keeps winning.

"Competition is really tough but we're a really tight squad, we're really good mates," said the man who also plays flanker.

"We all train together and we all push each other on.

"There's a real team ethos. If we're winning and playing well, I'm happy to be sitting there. "We're all competitive. We're pushing each other in training and that brings out the best in people. It's fantastic that that's the way it is. It's good fun, it's good craic, but we'll keep ourselves grounded and everyone will be fighting for spots in a healthy, competitive manner."

Belfast Telegraph

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