Iain Henderson: Ulster skipper expects tough battle from Munster’s Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Ulster captain Iain Henderson is wary of the threat posed by Munster duo Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne when the teams meet in their United Rugby Championship (URC) quarter-final at Kingspan Stadium on Friday.

O’Mahony was back training last week after he was ruled out for a week with a shoulder injury while Beirne is pushing for a return to action following a two-month spell on the sidelines with a thigh problem.

Munster in a confident mood

Munster will have plenty of confidence as they won both their URC league matches against Ulster and although Johann van Graan’s charges sealed a 24-17 win in the most recent encounter between the sides in Belfast, minus the services of Mahony and Beirne on April 22, Henderson expects his Ireland team-mates to boost their province this weekend.

He said O’Mahony is the type of player who should provide Ulster with a stern test in most facets of play.

“Pete is huge whenever he plays,” Henderson told the Irish Examiner. “Playing with him for Ireland, playing against him for Munster, his breakdown work, his work in the wide channels, defensively as well, he adds a great amount of ballast and belief into any team that he plays with.

“Obviously his defensive work at the lineout is massive as well, he jumps so well. He poses threats all over the pitch, not just in one specific area.

“We definitely have to be really switched on. I was always expecting him to be coming back in. He loves playing for Munster, he’s a very proud Munster man and I wouldn’t have been expecting anything else from him than representing his province in knockout rugby.”

Although Beirne last played at provincial level in January, Henderson believes he will also prove a handful if he returns to action this weekend.

“Yeah, look, Tadhg Beirne is a great lineout forward and when you put him in there with another back-rower, Pete O’Mahony, that changes things a lot in comparison to a slightly different back row that we might have played against here a few weeks ago,” he said.

“Those sort of dynamics definitely change how you want to arrange your lineout, playing against those types of players but also it will have massive ramifications for what we want to be doing around the pitch in terms of the breakdown and other defensive threats too.

“So we’ll leave that to the analysis guys and the coaches, they do a great job for us, and then we’ll obviously have our training week as usually happens and focus in on them in what way we can.”

Despite identifying O’Mahony and Beirne as players to keep an eye on, Henderson is aware that Munster also have other threats amongst their forwards.

“One of the young lads, a young second-row, Thomas Ahern. He played incredibly well against us down there earlier in the season and he’s had a few incredible games off the bench for them,” he added.

“He shows he’s got that real athleticism and I think that’s something that to perform at the top national level you need to have that and it’s something I think the Irish coaches definitely could build on.

“So he’s someone who I think we’ll definitely see in the next few seasons but potentially sooner in a green jersey.”

READ MORE: Champions Cup: Ex-Ireland wing Shane Horgan criticises ‘tight’ Leinster

The article Iain Henderson: Ulster skipper expects tough battle from Munster’s Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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