Planet Rugby

Heaslip lauds Henderson talent

07th March 2014 20:43

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Iain Henderson England Saxons v Ireland Wolfhounds

Rising highest: Iain Henderson

Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip has paid tribute to the talents of inexperienced back-row colleague Iain Henderson.

Henderson makes his first Six Nations start at blindside flanker on Saturday against Italy, but standing at 6ft 6in, the Ulster behemoth is also adept at playing in the second-row.

"He's a big boy but for a guy of his height he's got magical feet," said Heaslip.

"I don't know if it comes across, but he's really light on his toes, he's quite agile, so for a guy of his height, weight and power it makes him really dynamic and quite dangerous when he's carrying the ball.

"And when he doesn't have it, when he gets a shot on someone, he can really put a hole in them."

Henderson comes into the starting lineup for the injured Peter O'Mahony; the Munsterman has been a standout for Joe Schmidt's men in the opening three matches of the tournament, and has proved himself among the players of the Six Nations so far.

Despite the obvious differences in style and size, Heaslip reckons Henderson will slot in seamlessly.

"Granted the two players have different characteristics, but I don't think the back-row is going to change at all, in terms of the level and the standard we're going to have to bring," added Heaslip.

"We're going up against a quality back-row, and I'm sure he'll take the opportunity with both hands.

"I had a good chat with him in the week, he knows exactly what he's got to do, and now he can just go out and do his thing.

"He has the full confidence of the 14 players around him and the lads on the bench too."

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