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Rugby World Cup: Chris Henry hopes he has left a lasting impression

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 28/09/2015

Chris Henry hopes he has given Joe Schmidt a selection headache after marking his first World Cup start with a try against Romania at Wembley Stadium yesterday.

The flanker, appearing on the biggest stage just 11 months after suffering a mini-stroke on the eve of an autumn international with South Africa, scored Ireland's final try of the 44-10 win and acquitted himself well against a physical Romanian pack.

With Joe Schmidt set to name his team for this weekend's clash with Italy on Friday afternoon, Henry hopes that his performance has done enough to alter the established back-row selection of Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Peter O'Mahony.

"A lot of lads knew that this was a chance for them to give Joe a headache, whether it was enough I don't know," he said after the victory.

"Of course you want to start. Unfortunately I've got some pretty tough competition in that starting back-row.

"I've had an 80-minute performance in the warm-ups and a few off the bench so for me to get 80 minutes out there was a great opportunity.

"It was a great opportunity for all the lads who maybe thought they were going to start last week and didn't. Hopefully it causes a headache for Joe.

"For me, the two people who were under the biggest pressure more than anyone, Devin Toner and Tommy Bowe, were outstanding considering the pressure they must have felt.

"Those two for me really stood up to it and it was great to see. For me, they're quality players and it goes back to Joe.

"He'll see what players are in form, what players have done enough today.

"He'll see the smallest things. If you haven't worked that extra first five metres hard enough, he notices every small little detail."

While already looking ahead to the Italian contest at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday, Henry did allow himself one moment of reflection on a memorable first start at the competition.

"It's a great feeling to score anytime for Ireland but a first World Cup try in my first World Cup start is a special moment," he said.

"There were plenty of nerves going into it and I'm delighted to get through the game injury free and get the score.

"I enjoyed getting the ball, going forward a bit more.

"Perhaps in other games I do more of the dirty work, the rucking and defensive duties.

"The ball just came to me a bit more, it's something I've really tried to work on during the pre-season.

"I've been hitting some good scores in the gym, I'm trying to keep my feet alive. If that's added something to my game, brilliant.

"Card number one for me though is still about generating quick ruck ball. I gave away one penalty around the neck, it's one of these new rules that they're coming down hard on.

"I was very disappointed in myself after that. Overall, though, I'm reasonably happy but there's always something to work on."

Belfast Telegraph

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