Brian O'Driscoll suggests a Henshaw solution to Ireland's centre dilemma

Ireland legend and Eddie O'Sullivan reflect on the comprehensive win over South Africa

BY Raf Diallo 20:26 Monday 13 November 2017, 20:26 13 Nov 2017

With Leinster's Garry Ringrose out of the equation due to injury, the pairing of former Connacht team-mates Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki formed the bedrock of the centre partnership as Ireland outclassed South Africa on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium.

Of course, Ringrose and Henshaw have forged a partnership since the latter's move to Leinster last summer but when that duo and Aki are all fit, how should Joe Schmidt decide on a pairing and who must sit on the bench? And that's not even counting Ulster's Jared Payne who has been a steady option at 13 during his Ireland career. 

Brian O'Driscoll had a suggestion for that good depth-enforced headache for Schmidt and it involves a shift of position for Henshaw which he discussed with former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan and Joe.

"I wonder does he go back to 15? He was a great 15, he has a great kicking game, he's very capable in the air. We saw a try he scored against England a few seasons ago, dominating the air," he said.

"So I wonder if you have a full deck, do you get him in there? Because it gives him an opportunity to play with ball in hand." 

He continued: "I just wonder with the calibre [at centre] and there's question marks about Kearney, I thought he was reasonably good, he wasn't at his best, but I think we need to try and put maximum pressure in multiple positions and at the moment with Zebo out of the equation, Rob doesn't have a huge amount of pressure on him and I think that will bring more out of him if you get him and maybe Jared Payne in there as well and all fighting for one position." 

Eddie feels one issue would prevent that happening internationally for Henshaw and stems from his current role with Leinster at provincial level.

"To play test rugby consistently in one position you probably should play there most weeks with your club," he said.

"But it's a massive ask to ask a guy to go from one position to another, if he's playing his club rugby consistently because there's nuances at test level that you need to be grappling with every week in your day to day to be comfortable on the ball."  

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