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Series win would be huge and is in our hands: Robbie Henshaw



On the run: Robbie Henshaw on the charge against the Springboks. Credit: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

On the run: Robbie Henshaw on the charge against the Springboks. Credit: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

On the run: Robbie Henshaw on the charge against the Springboks. Credit: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Robbie Henshaw has played in a second Test in South Africa and felt the fury of a Springbok team with their backs against the wall.

In 2016, the centre was on the field when Ireland ceded a commanding position in Johannesburg in the face of a thunderous momentum shift that turned that series on its head.

The stakes were lower back then and the game took place in front of a home crowd, at altitude but it was instructive of what the current world champions are capable of when they feel threatened.

Henshaw remembers it well and it will serve as a warning to him ahead of this evening’s second Test in Cape Town.

“Massively. I remember (Damian) De Allende scoring a try after that Ruan Combrinck break down the right-hand side,” he said.

“It just shows their physicality. They can pull something out of nothing if you’re not switched on.If you fall off or you’re not ready for a hit they are able to run over you. That was a big thing that stood out.

“From the First Test we played down at Cape Town and then we went up to Jo’berg. I’m not sure if the altitude had an effect – we all felt great in the game – it was just probably a mental thing.

“We just slipped up and you could feel the change in energy.

“I just think it stands out to me that they will come back from an upset and we need to be ready for that. We need to be across our work and ready for them to bring something different.

“After the last game, they were saying that when their backs are to the wall, they’re a dangerous team. I know that personally from playing here in 2016, when we beat them in the first Test and they came back and managed to over-turn us to win the series.

‘So they are massively dangerous and they are going to be well up for it. We need to be ready to match their power and the fire they’re going to bring.’

Henshaw was a key man for the Lons in their win last weekend, despite the knock-on before half-time that could have cost his team dear.

The Athlone native made one of the few breaks of the game, only for Willie le Roux’s covering tackle to dislodge the ball.

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It could have affected him, but he recovered to produce a barnstorming performance after half-time.

“Ball in two hands I would say for me, not leaving it in one hand,” he smiled as he considered the lessons from that moment.

“He probably blindsided me just as I was about to pass and it got spilled out. Maybe if I had it in two hands he might not have got it and I might have just fed Ali on the inside or dropped it on my foot to the boys on the right.

“It was a very fast moment in the game and it flashes by very quickly. If in doubt, just carry and recycle it.

“It’s just next moment. It’s gone now. It’s away from me. Just make sure the next thing I do is as positive as it can be. Make sure you don’t com¬pound an error on error – that would be a big thing.”

Henshaw is aware of the history on the Lions shoulders and, while much of the pre-match focus has rested on the Springboks’ grievances and their potential to produce a response the centre wants to see something different from the Lions.

“There’s a huge onus on us to go out there and back it up,” he said.

“We know that last week wasn’t perfect in any sense. It was a real arm-wrestle.

“They won the first-half and we came back and over-turned them but there’s definitely room for improvement on our side.

“We’ll be looking to execute and take our chances when they come and keep the pressure on them. We have to bring the level of our performance up again.

“It would be massive (to win the series).

“Everyone knows we are in such a great position at the moment and it’s in our hands to go out and back it up. It’s going to be very tough but it would be unbelievable to have it wrapped up in two games.”

That’s what’s what’s on offer today. History beckons and Henshaw is ready to learn the lessons of 2016.

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