With the horrendous injury profile across the Ireland squad during the RBS Six Nations Championship, head coach Joe Schmidt will be keeping an eye on Ulster backrow Chris Henry’s return from injury.
The international openside returned from a shoulder injury and enjoyed a short run-out off the bench in Ulster’s 13-10 win over Glasgow to keep them top of the Guinness PRO12.
Henry is almost certain to start for his Province in Sunday’s big game against Scarlets and if he can produce his usual solid display is almost certain to be called into the Ireland camp ahead of the third game in the series away to England on Saturday week.
Henry, who impressed for the Irish at the Rugby World Cup, would certainly be a boost for Schmidt who has now lost backrow forward, Sean O’Brien ahead of the Twickenham game due to a hamstring injury.
It could still be too early for Henry who has been out of action since December with a shoulder injury, but he remained hopeful he could still be involved in the championship, while also admitting he may not quite be battle ready for international duty.
“There may be enough time to have some Six Nations involvement,” said Henry.
“I don’t know how long Sean is going to be out for, but if there’s a thing about Joe Schmidt, he rewards people who he trusts that haven’t let him down,” he said.
“Tommy O’Donnell hasn’t let Joe down, and Rhys Ruddock hasn’t let Joe down, but I hope that he knows I’ve done a job for him in the past and I’m still there.
“It would be an amazing feeling to get back involved with Ireland at some stage,” Henry added.
Henry started every one of Ireland’s games in the Six Nations championship-winning season two years ago.
He was sidelined last year after having heart surgery, as a result of a blocked blood vessel.
He came on as a replacement for Sean Reidy in Friday night’s Pro12 win over Glasgow and is now poised to start for the first time since damaging his shoulder against Toulouse in mid-December.
Henry added: “It’s been a frustrating enough injury, one that has lingered, and now I have to try and get as much game-time as I can.
“I’m not battle hardened. In my position, you need to be in the mix and have those bumps and bruises.
“You can’t just throw yourself back in but I’d love to think Joe is watching the (Scarlets) game on Sunday.”