Chris Henry chasing World Cup glory
March 16, 2014
Chris Henry has risen to prominence in the Irish team this year © Getty Images
Chris Henry says Ireland have no choice but to capitalise upon this year's Six Nations triumph with a serious challenge for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Joe Schmidt's side were crowned Six Nations champions for the first time since 2009 on Saturday, beating England on points difference with a dramatic 22-20 win in France.
"I think we have to capitalise on this now in terms of the World Cup," Henry said. "We've got such a massive run-in to the World Cup now, that when we get together next we've got to focus on that. I feel a lot of us have improved individually in the last eight weeks under Joe, and that's what we need to keep doing. Because of the quality of player we have, there's no telling how far this team can go. I want to use it as a springboard for myself as well, personally. Every time I go out there I put pressure on myself. I've just loved every minute."
Prior to 2014, Henry had not started a Six Nations match for Ireland, but injury to Sean O'Brien meant that Schmidt found a place in his starting XV for Henry for all five tournament fixtures this year.
The win over France signified something more than just a win, according to Henry, who describes the occasion of lining up next to Brian O'Driscoll for his 141st and final Test cap.
"I think definitely we will look back and one day, say: 'I was there'. I feel very privileged and honoured to be able to play in his last game, and to play so many games with him. It's a fantastic feeling to win it with his last day, but also very sad too. It's going to be strange when we go to the next camp and he's not going to be there, but unfortunately that's the way life is. Things have to move on and I'm just so privileged to be able to play with him."
Henry's performances in the Six Nations will give Schmidt something of a dilemma at openside flanker when O'Brien does return to fitness, but he's grateful to head coach Schmidt for the opportunity afforded to him.
"It gives you a lot of confidence because you know you're in excellent hands with his preparation and his attention to detail. He's been incredible to deal with, you're on your toes and you have to know your stuff. But you want a coach that challenges you and we certainly are, all the time with Ireland under Joe. The pressure is on you to know your stuff. But once you do know all that, it gives you huge confidence to go out and do what he wants."
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