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'I find that harrowing': Iain Henderson explains the main gripe that he uses to channel swift injury recoveries

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Iain Henderson suffered his latest injury blow playing for Ireland against Scotland at the start of December.

Iain Henderson suffered his latest injury blow playing for Ireland against Scotland at the start of December.

�INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Iain Henderson suffered his latest injury blow playing for Ireland against Scotland at the start of December.

Ulster skipper Iain Henderson has admitted that injuries get tougher to deal with as his career progresses.

Currently out of action thanks to a knee problem sustained in Ireland action against Scotland back in December, the lock has been speaking to former Ulster team-mate and current Worcester Warriors hooker Niall Annett on his ' Wind Yer Neck In' podcast.

In a lengthy and wide-ranging chat, the 28-year-old opens up on his attitude to spells spent on the sidelines.

"I think getting injured for me has become more difficult as my career has gone on," he tells Annett who was a member of the Ulster Academy at the same time as Henderson before establishing himself as a regular in the English Premiership.

"You become more invested. I put a lot more into training and preparation for games now and put a lot more emphasis on that.

"You know how hard you've worked to get to that point or to play in that game and that makes it all the more gutting when you get injured."

The 2017 British and Irish Lion has had his fair share of misfortune on this particular front and was not long returned from hip surgery designed to solve a persistent issue when he suffered this latest blow during the third/fourth place play-off in the Autumn Nations Cup.

"I've recently done my MCL," he says. "After the game, the doctor asked me if I'd done it before and I told him I wasn't sure, that I'd done one of them and I wasn't sure which.

"I try not to carry any baggage with (past injuries). I know the hands I've had operations on because I can look at them and my fingers are a mess. I know which hamstring detached because of the scar, I know the hip because of the scars, I know which knee has had cartilage removed because there are scars. But if I roll an ankle and I'm asked which one I've done before, I won't know.

"The way I go about (the recovery process) is, you're gutted for the first few days, you've to get scans and then you've many, many people asking you the same question over and over and over again.

"That's the toughest thing, that question ''Are you back running?' 'How long is it going to be?' 'When are you going to be fit?'

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"I know it's with the best of intentions but you'll get that question 20 or 30 times a day and I find that harrowing.

"Everyone can tell you it's part and parcel of the game. It's going to happen no matter what.

"When you play rugby there are very few players who don't get injured or who go through their career with very few injuries.

"Some players will get injured once, some will get injured 30 times. You'll be on that spectrum somewhere and unfortunately you don't get to choose where you fall.

"There are guys that get lots of injuries and others that don't but the collisions that you take, in the grand scheme of things, aren't on your terms.

"I'm one of the players in the top half of that spectrum who gets injured more often.

"It's incredibly frustrating but I've accepted that and one thing I can do is try and minimise the time that I'm out for."

Indeed, Henderson's powers of recovery have become akin to the stuff of legend, defying projected return-to-play dates time and time again. Given that he has already had multiple conversations with Ireland's new forwards coach Paul O'Connell in the past week, it would be no surprise to see him do so again and get back in time for the side's Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff on February 7.

Reflecting on how he can beat the odds with such frequency, he adds that it is a matter of channeling his frustration into positive outcomes.

"It would be abnormal if you weren't (annoyed)," he says.

"(But) it's having a way of accepting it and having a way of understanding that it's okay to be annoyed and understanding what you can do next, whether that's finding out about a scan or what steps of rehab you have got to go through.

"(Ulster physio) Chris McNichol, he's brilliant. He knows that whenever he tells me 'we'll do this and then we'll get running in three week's time', my first reaction will be 'what about two and half weeks?' or 'what about two weeks?'

"He knows that my sole thing is that I don't like being injured, I don't like being asked when I'm going to be back.

"It's normal to be frustrated. Nobody wants to have broken parts of their body.

"The more that people understand that and, for want of a better term, be at one with that, then you come to accept it."


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