WORLD CUP: Iain Henderson giving Joe Schmidt the right sort of headaches

Ireland's Iain Henderson scores against Wales
Ireland's Iain Henderson scores against Wales

Iain Henderson is pushing his case to be a front line starter for Ireland in the engine room during the World Cup.

The Ulster lock, who can also play backrow, produced a man of the match performance for the men in green during last weekend’s 16-10 defeat to Wales in Dublin.

Although Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt, has gone with his first-choice second row combination of Paul O’Connell and Devin Toner for Saturday’s final warm-up game with England at Twickenham, Henderson has given the management plenty of food for thought ahead of the opening Group D match against Canada on September 19.

“Iain’s had two full games so far, Dev has had a cameo really by comparison,” said Schmidt.

“I did probably try to muscle the skipper out to be honest, but he wasn’t for budging!

“He felt he needed another game.

“It was good to get that combination back together again with Dev and Paul, they’ve served us really well together in the last two Six Nations.

“And Iain has given us the right sort of headache, without a doubt.

“It wasn’t a form selection: it was a balance of game time and opportunity, so that we’ve got as many guys as ready to hit the ground running as possible in two weeks’ time.”

Hooker Rory Best gets his first start of the warm-up campaigns having come off the bench against Wales on August 8.

He is understood to have been nursing a minor neck injury over the past few weeks and is back to full fitness.

Ireland have bascially wheeled out the big guns for the eagerly anticipated fixture against the World Cup hosts.

However, he has opted to go with Simon Zebo at fullback ahead of regular starter Rob Kearney.

Kearney has suffered a bruised knee but trained fully and was available for selection for the England clash.

“We just felt it was important to get Simon a little bit more time at full-back once we decided he was going to cover full-back for us,” said Schmidt.

“Rob Kearney has a bruise on his knee but he trained fully and we could have picked him.”

The only key player to Ireland’s World Cup missing is prop Cian Healy.

Healy, who is crucial to Ireland, has finally returned to full training after battling to recover from neck surgery in May, but Schmidt has handed the loosehead prop extra time to hit top speed.

Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw return in the midfield with Ulster’s Darren Cave named on the bench as he has had the least amount of game time from the remainder of the centres.