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Rugby World Cup: Ulster star Iain Henderson hits right notes in opener

By Jonathan Bradley

There was plenty to please the Ulster contingent during Ireland's win over Canada with Iain Henderson once again dominating the headlines as the 23-year-old provided another showing to highlight his increasing confidence on the Test stage.

His performances during the warm-up games forced Devin Toner out of the starting line-up and the lock, also more than capable of playing at flanker, rewarded Joe Schmidt's faith with a second international try.

It was enough to draw praise from his provincial skipper Rory Best. Ireland's hooker was so impressed by Henderson's brute strength that he described the Ulster academy graduate as a "bit of a freak".

The enthusiasm did not stop there, with Schmidt and number 8 Jamie Heaslip also offering encouragement, but what will have provided cause for further optimism is how well Henderson maintained his performance.

Rugby World Cup: Ireland must improve for tougher tests ahead: Rory Best Rugby World Cup: Ireland have plenty of positives to build on from Canada match: Jamie Heaslip

Criticised in the past for a lacking the required conditioning, his game was one of consistent involvements rather than of peaks and troughs.

He was not the only Ulsterman to get on the scoresheet with Jared Payne also notching a second international score.

The outside centre did much to admire throughout the contest but will have been pleased to cancel out an isolated error by crossing the whitewash.

Still wearing a grimace of considerable disgust having chipped straight into the arms of Canadian dangerman DTH van der Merwe to allow them their only score, Payne's late score levelled his ledger in the points department.

An hour of play for Rory Best was enough for Joe Schmidt, Sean Cronin coming on for the final quarter, and the number 2 was another who can be pleased with his outing after Ireland came away with 100% retention of their own set-piece while Chris Henry's cameo saw the flanker put himself about, picking up a cut and black eye in the process.

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