YOUNG Ulster backrow forward, Iain Henderson admitted he was shocked when he was told he would be on the bench for Ireland on Saturday evening.
Declan Kidney’s side open their three-match Guinness Autumn International Test series against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin (5.30pm) and Henderson is one of three uncapped forwards named in the matchday squad.
Injuries may have played a part in Kidney’s hand being forced to bring through his new rising young talent - but some would see it as being something the under pressure Irish coach should have been doing long before this series.
For 20-year-old Henderson it is a dream come true as he embarks on his professional pathway.
He has already played at the top at Under-20 level, impressing at the Junior World Cup with Ireland in June.
With club Ulster, the Academy player has appeared on the biggest stage possible, the Heineken Cup, making two appearances already in Europe and filling the boots of Irish and British Lion blindside, Stephen Ferris.
Speaking exclusively to the News Letter on Friday via his agency, Sportology, Henderson said suprised was an understatement about his inclusion in the Irish side today.
“It came as a massive shock, but I am absolutely delighted as well to be involved in the Autumn Tests.
“If, or when, I am called on, I will be ready to play my part in what will be a really tough match.
“Having played against the junior Boks at the Junior World Cup I know these guys are strong and physical at the breakdown, fast and clincial so it will be an interesting battle.
“And it is something I will relish if the opportunity comes along.”
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