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Grassroots of Canterbury ambassadors: Robbie Henshaw

With a great future ahead of him at just 22 years of age, centre Robbie Henshaw has already won 18 caps for Ireland (as at 22 February 2016) and no less a player than the great Brian O’Driscoll has been quoted as saying, “I think he has all the attributes to be a seasoned campaigner for Ireland for many, many years.”

Early days

Robbie was born in Athlone to a sporting and musical family and grew up in Coosan, playing his early rugby at the Marist College where he studied and, in 2012, captained the school’s rugby team to their first Connacht Senior Cup in 35 years.

Keen and talented, Robbie developed his rugby at the grassroots level with the Connacht under-age set up and was selected to enter the Connacht Academy for the 2012-13 season, earning his first full cap for the Connacht senior team in 2012, playing mostly as a fullback. As a junior player, Robbie represented Ireland at age group level and was part of the Irish Schools side that won the Under-18 European Championship; he also represented his country at Under-19 level.

International breakthrough

Full international honours were not far away and in 2013 Robbie was included in the Ireland training squad for the Six Nations Championship, but although he played for the Irish Wolfhounds and the Ireland Under-20 sides he did not make his senior team debut until June that year when he started against the USA.

Left out of the playing side for the 2014 Six Nations, Robbie was selected again for the 2015 championship, scoring his first senior international try on 1 March in the win over England. He later played three games in Ireland’s 2015 RWC campaign and is now well established as an international centre.

Hard work and support

 Robbie, a 1.93m, 103kg behemoth, has natural talent and continues to impress with his hard running, excellent kicking game and vision, but it is his own hard work, the support of those around him and nurturing through the Connacht development system that has brought him on to be the player he is today.