Can Robbie Hensaw get the perfect Sportsgrounds send-off as Connacht hunt a Pro 12 final?

Gerry Thornley and Ruaidhri O'Connor look ahead to the Pro 12 semi-final weekend on Off The Ball

Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, Connacht, Bundee Aki

Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

By the time this weekend is done, there could be an all-Irish Guinness Pro 12 final to look forward to.

Connacht face an experienced Glasgow Warriors on Saturday night, while the night before it's the interpro clash of Leinster and Ulster in the first playoff semi-final.

Before those teams collide, Off The Ball were joined by The Irish Times' Gerry Thornley and The Irish Independent's Ruaidhri O'Connor to preview the action to come.

Gerry believes that Connacht have a chance against Glasgow and will show their best as Robbie Henshaw prepares for what could be his last match before a move to Leinster, especially at home.

"I do think Connacht will show up. I think Robbie Henshaw will have a great game. I just think he will because it's his last home match in the Sportsground. I think he's going to be inspired by the occasion," said Gerry, who feels the Sportsground atmosphere will continue to be a factor.  

Ruaidhri also feels Connacht can sustain a level of competitiveness beyond this season.

Jonathan Sexton ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

"They're very much the golden child now. They've gone from black sheep to golden child. The IRFU are fully behind them, David Nucifora speaks glowingly of them. So I think they have the backing of that and I don't think they are going away. The reason it's such a big opportunity for them this season is because they might not get back here again next year - there's no guarantee that they'll get a semi-final. But they can sustain a level of performance in that they're competitive and highly competitive over the next couple of years," he said.

On the Friday night match, it comes weeks after Ulster beat Leinster 30-6 and Ruaidhri believes it will be hugely significant for Leinster's head coach.

"I think this is a massive game for Leo Cullen. I think this is Leinster's season. Europe went so badly, they managed to finish top of the Pro 12 somehow without really inspiring all season. He has to win this match for this season to be deemed any way a success," he said.