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Henderson free to play

Wednesday, 20th February, 2019 4:49pm

Iain Henderson has been cleared to play in the Six Nations clash with Italy at the weekend.

Henderson had been cited for a dangerous clear-out from a ruck in Ulster's hard-fought win over Ospreys last weekend.

The Disciplinary Committee reviewed the video clips and reports, and heard explanations from the player and his representatives, and established Henderson had been attempting a legitimate manoeuvre which was destabilised by another player. The panel agreed that an act of foul play was shown, but considered that it merited a yellow card only and confirmed that Henderson would be free to play this weekend.

After a week's break, Ireland will travel to play Italy on Sunday with Henderson part of that squad after missing the first two rounds because of injury.

In a further boost to the team, Tadhg Beirne has also been declared fit to play on Sunday. The IRFU also confirmed that Munster centre Chris Farrell is fit, although fellow midfielder Garry Ringrose has returned to Leinster as he continues to struggle with a hamstring injury that kept him out of Ireland's 22-13 win over Scotland. Rhys Ruddock and Will Addison are continuing their rehab with their provinces also this week.

Ireland will look to continue to improve their form after the away win over Scotland two weeks ago, three weeks after the disappointing campaign opening loss to England at the Aviva Stadium.

Ahead of the game against the Azzurri, Sean O'Brien spoke to the press about his upcoming move to London Irish, a transfer that will take place following the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup.

With his move away from Ireland, the likelihood is that O'Brien may not be considered for selection as a result of his switch. Speaking on the issue, O'Brien said: “If I’m fit and well, I think I can add value to this group: even after I leave Leinster I’d hope to be selected. But that’s so long away and it’s probably a decision that the coaches and whoever is in charge at the time will have to make. There’s always hope there, I think, that regardless of where you are you’re still in with a shout if you’re playing well enough. Until the World Cup finishes that is all up in the air.”

O'Brien will leave Leinster after playing there since 2008, and admits his decision to leave was not an easy one. “When you do make your final decision, it’s a tough place, at the end of it all you’re just packing your bags and you’re walking out the door and moving to a different club. I never thought I was going to be in that situation but that’s the way it goes sometimes and that’s professional sport.”

In a contract boost, the IRFU confirmed this week that Robbie Henshaw had extended his IRFU contract and will remain at Leinster until at least the end if June 2022. Henshaw, commented: “I am delighted to have signed a new three year contract with the IRFU. It is an exciting time to be part of Irish rugby and having tasted success with both Ireland and Leinster in recent seasons, I am eager to play a role in driving further success at both international and provincial level.”

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