Ulster flanker Chris Henry knows better than most how quickly life can change, and is determined to relish his return to the Ireland squad.
Henry suffered a mini-stroke in November the night before he was due to play for Ireland against South Africa in the Guinness Series. He subsequently underwent heart surgery to repair a defect in his heart wall and then faced months of recuperation.
Henry returned to the Ulster squad in March and last week came off the bench during Ireland’s win against Wales in the first World Cup warm-up game.
Video by Shaun Cronin.
On Saturday he gets his first start in an Ireland jersey since November and is keen to put the focus back on his performances rather than his health.
“It feels fantastic,” Henry said at the squad announcement. “It’s nice that that question (about health) has stopped being asked quite as much.
“It’s great to be back in this environment. To get another opportunity now is great. As players we just want to play.”
Henry is confident that the team selected to play Scotland can deal with the stress of playing for a place in Schmidt’s final 31-man World Cup squad.
“There’s now doubt there is pressure,” he admitted. “But this group of players, they majority of us have already played in pressured environments before in the last two years.
“You get a bit of confidence from that.
“Last week’s team did really well and and now there are new combinations again. It’s about learning as quickly as possible, clicking with each other as quickly as possible.”
Joe Schmidt also spoke about the challenges of managing players’ fitness so they peaked at the right time.
Breakingnews.ie head sports reporter Shaun Cronin talks to Irish Examiner journalist Brendan O’Brien about the team selection.