Henshaw career graph points at historic cap

In what could be one of the greatest ascendencies in Westmeath sporting history, Robbie Henshaw could claim a first senior cap only 451 days after leading his school to just their second ever Connacht Senior Cup victory.

This week the Coosan teenager kept his career graph on its steep upwards curve when he was named in Ireland’s 28-man squad to tour the USA and Canada next month.

The former Westmeath minor who came through the rugby ranks at Buccaneers, has already represented his country at u18, u19, u20 levels, and the Irish Wolfhounds - the nation’s seconds - in a friendly against England in January.

Henshaw captained Marists to the Connacht title in March 2012, a first in 35 years, before signing with the Connacht academy.

Expecting to fulfil a regular apprenticeship for the No 15 shirt behind incumbent fullback and the province’s captain Gavan Duffy, Henshaw was thrust into the brightest of limelights when Duffy was injured in a RaboDirect game against Edinburgh on December 5.

Subsequently Henshaw was picked for a full debut in a 22-14 Heineken Cup victory over French aristocrats Biarritz two days later.

Within six days, Connacht had snapped up his signature to secure his full, professional services for the next two years.

Henshaw went on to play a further 22 times for them during the season while still a teenager, and was voted the province’s senior player of the year earlier this month. He also picked up the IRFU’s young player of the year award, named after the late Ulster player Nevin Spence, who lost his life, alongside his father and brother, in a tragic farming accident earlier this season.

However, it is the likelihood of his getting picked in the first test versus the United States in Houston, Texas on June 8 that piques the interest.

If he is fortunate to be selected, it will mean Robbie would be the first teenager to play a full test for Ireland since the venerable Gordon D’Arcy came on as a substitute at Landsdowne Road against Romania in the 1999 World Cup.

If Robbie is picked for the game against the US he will achieve this honour just four days before his 20th birthday; however should it be for the Canada match in Toronto seven days later, D’Arcy will carry this accolade for a few more years.

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