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Rugby World Cup: New Zealand coach Graham Henry praises Ulster ace Iain Henderson for Ireland performance

By Jonathan Bradley

World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Graham Henry has hailed Iain Henderson as a key component in Ireland's bid to make history at this year's showpiece.

Having never progressed beyond the quarter-finals, a last-four berth is a wholly realistic target for the back-to-back Six Nations champions and the man who led New Zealand to glory four years ago was impressed by both their opening victory over Canada on Saturday and the 23-year-old Ulsterman's performance.

"Ireland and France got expected results (in Pool D)," said the man who led the Lions in 2001.

"Ireland look like serious contenders with a very efficient set-piece and attack structure, perhaps armed with more adventure than in the past.

"I like the look of Iain Henderson in the second row and Jonathan Sexton is class."

Henderson earned praise from leading rugby figures after his first World Cup appearance against Canada while his club captain Rory Best said after the game that "it's hard to see where the limit is on his potential".

Ireland trained at English football's St George's Park base at Burton-on-Trent yesterday and coach Joe Schmidt should have a full squad to choose from when his side face Romania in their second Pool D game at Wembley on Sunday.

Robbie Henshaw is expected to feature after missing the Canada victory with a strained hamstring.

RUGBY WORLD CUP LATEST: Pages 48-51

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