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Henderson says toppling All Blacks again “reassures” Ireland

November 19, 2018

Ireland's Rory Best is tackled during the rugby union international between Ireland and New Zealand in Dublin, Ireland, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

DUBLIN (AP) — Beating world champion New Zealand gave Ireland “reassurance,” lock Iain Henderson said on Monday.

Two days after toppling the All Blacks 16-9 for the first time at home, Henderson said the team’s prime motivation was not to be a one-win wonder. The Irish downed the All Blacks for the first time in 2016 in Chicago, and wanted to back it up.

“Having never beaten them in Dublin, it was in the back of our minds,” said Henderson, who was a second-half replacement. “To overcome that was the most satisfying thing in my mind.

“People might say, ‘OK, they won in Chicago, it was a one-off, almost.’ But to be able to back it up again shows that we are still learning, still getting better, and learning from past performances.

“Being able to beat New Zealand again gives us reassurance that we are continuing to better ourselves.

“Internally, we know the quality of players we’ve got, we know the quality of training and quality of coaches we have, and everything that is done around us is done to the highest standard possible. Everyone’s trying to be the best, everyone’s striving to meet expectations. A win like that at the weekend is a bit of a payday, giving everyone a bit of thanks for all the effort that has been put in.”

Meanwhile, three Ireland players who returned to Leinster had their injuries clarified.

Flanker Dan Leavy, withdrawn from the New Zealand game, the day before, has a neck strain and will not be available for selection this weekend for the test against the United States; flanker Sean O’Brien has had surgery on his broken right arm and will be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks; and center Robbie Henshaw was out four to six weeks because of a hamstring strain.

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