Backs coach Les Kiss believes Iain Henderson will make the most of his chance to cement his position in Ireland's second row at this World Cup
Ireland’s backs coach, Les Kiss, has backed lock Iain Henderson to have a standout World Cup partnering captain Paul O’Connell after the Ulster player beat out Devin Toner for a starting position.
At the age of 23, Henderson already has 19 international caps to his name, but will make just his fifth start against Canada this Sunday in Cardiff.
And while Toner developed a great relationship with O’Connell over the past two RBS 6 Nations campaigns, Kiss believes Henderson is ready to step in and make his mark.
“Iain has done very well and I don’t think it’s just in this off-season either, he’s come in over the last two years, and he’s been learning the ropes, not only through Paul O’Connell but also through Devin Toner,” Kiss told the Press Association. “He’s learned a lot in that time.
“It’s another step up for him, a big tournament and it will be exciting for him. But we’ve seen what he can deliver. The potential’s there but if he’s got his mind on and his head right he can be a damaging player.
“So he’ll have to bring that into the game in some form or other, whether that’s in the set-piece or in the loose. But it’s a big opportunity for him.”
Luke Fitzgerald starts for Ireland at inside centre after Robbie Henshaw lost his race for fitness with a hamstring injury. Donnacha Ryan‘s versatility in the second and back rows sees him preferred to Toner on the bench.
Ireland: Rob Kearney; Dave Kearney, Jared Payne, Luke Fitzgerald, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross; Iain Henderson, Paul O’Connell (capt); Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Nathan White, Donnacha Ryan, Chris Henry, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo