Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Ulster

Chris Henry: Fans sweating over Hendy fitness, but he'll only play if 100%

Iain Henderson
Iain Henderson
Chris Henry

By Chris Henry

There's no denying that the presence of Iain Henderson, or lack thereof, will be a huge factor in the game on Saturday.

Rugby round up Newsletter

Game previews, plus expert insights and exclusive commentary from the Belfast Telegraph sports team.

Going up against Leinster in the Aviva Stadium, the sharp end of the Champions Cup, it's a game where you need players like Iain to be fit and firing, so I'm sure every Ulster fan will be holding their breath waiting for Friday afternoon's team announcement. If he's named, you can be sure he's ready to go.

In the past, I think players would have been more inclined to take the field if they weren't close to 100%, but playing with an injury, especially when it comes to something like a knee, is now understood to be often more of a hindrance than a help.

Another forward coming back from injury should be Sean Reidy and, while he won't get the same amount of column inches as someone like Henderson, he's a really important player for Ulster.

Having had to bide his time when he first arrived, he's someone who has improved season after season and has the respect of everyone in that changing room. What a day to win your 100th cap for the province.

The backline will unfortunately be missing a few key men but, even still, I really believe the game plan has to be to play some rugby.

When we played Leinster in the 2012 final, it was with a very simple game plan. We kicked a lot and left it to Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy to compete in the air. Leinster, then and now, aren't a team who are easily contained, you have to accept that it's going to be high scoring and that the winner will be who gets the most tries.

In that regard, it's a big day for Billy Burns. We've seen how good he is with those kicks in behind - a huge part of the game now with defences set up the way they are - but I was very impressed with his passing skills on display against Southern Kings on Saturday. The quality of opposition will be different this weekend but Ulster will need another good showing from their 10.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph