Ireland bosses will battle to convince captain Paul O’Connell to delay his retirement and commit to another year of Test rugby, according to Robbie Henshaw.
Talisman skipper O’Connell drove Ireland to retain their RBS 6 Nations title, claiming the first try in his side’s 40-10 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.
Ireland sneaked to the title on points-difference, after England failed to produce a 26-point victory over France, retaining the trophy for the first time since 1949.
Evergreen lock O’Connell is weighing up retiring from Test rugby after the autumn World Cup, which would leave securing back-to-back titles as his Six Nations swansong.
Connacht centre Henshaw hailed O’Connell as the “ultimate leader”, and tipped the 35-year-old to come under pressure to sign up for one more year of Test action.
“He led and everyone else followed,” said Henshaw of O’Connell. “He’s just an unbelievable leader.
“I think the charisma oozes out of him, he’s an unbelievable player, and to be doing what he’s doing at the back-end of his career is unreal.
“I think he’s just an inspirational guy. I would say that people will try to convince him into another year, yeah.
“I can imagine next year he’d be asked to stay on.”
O’Connell became Ireland’s oldest try scorer of all time by crossing the whitewash in Scotland, consigning the hosts to the Wooden Spoon.
Joe Schmidt’s side had to watch on nervously as England saw off France 55-35 at Twickenham, falling six points short of the margin required to take the title.
Munster talisman O’Connell is yet to decide on his future after admitting he may retire from international rugby after the autumn World Cup.
The 101-cap Ireland lock’s first Test try in nine years set Schmidt’s men en route to retaining their title, with Sean O’Brien grabbing a brace and Jared Payne also crossing.
Henshaw revealed O’Connell spurred Ireland to shake off the frustrations of 23-16 defeat to Wales that blew the Grand Slam tilt.
Munster enforcer O’Connell ordered Ireland to move quickly past their Grand Slam disappointment in a considered address to the squad on Tuesday.
Henshaw said the British and Irish Lions second row retains a light-hearted side however, throwing in a touch of levity to help the Connacht centre cope with his first full Six Nations campaign.
“Joe mentioned that Paul took the bull by the horns during the week and he really stepped it up during the week after we were really disappointed after the defeat to Wales,” said Henshaw.
“It’s just the guy he is, he really took control during the week and got us going. He just said ‘we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, we’re still in it’, and he said not to be too down. We were looking at the results first and then would see what the points would be like on the day.
“He has helped calm me down during the tournament too. He wouldn’t be all too serious, he likes to have a bit of banter as well. So I like that part of him as well, he’s not too intense, he knows how to switch off.”
,and have good craic with the lads.
“All in all he’s just the ultimate leader and the ultimate captain.”