Ireland star eyes SA trip for comeback
URC BUILD-UP: Ulster could have a big boost for their trip to South Africa in October.
Captain Iain Henderson is targeting his team’s clashes against the Lions in Johannesburg and the Sharks in Durban for his comeback from injury.
The Ireland lock suffered a blow when he picked up a knee injury ahead of the first Test against the All Blacks in July.
He had a successful surgery and is currently busy with his rehabilitation.
Henderson is set to miss Ulster’s first four United Rugby Championship matches season (against Connacht, Leinster, Ospreys and Scarlets), but he hopes to be on a plane next month.
“Rehab going good but I haven’t been given a specific comeback date,” Henderson told the Belfast News Letter.
“I am only a week or two away from being back into full training but I know with the season and the 12 months that lie ahead they want to make sure that I am ready to go and play back-to-back consecutive games, to throw me in immediately wouldn’t be the best thing to do.
“I’ve got the Ulster physios and medical department, and the guys in the IRFU’s department looking after me. I know they have my best interests in their hearts so going forward I have full faith in them.
“I think they want me to get a three-to-five-week pre-season after coming back to full fitness and ready to play.
“Those games will be in South Africa, so whether I travel and play one or train one or don’t play either and do pre-season out there with them is still all up in the air for me but I am on the right road anyway.”
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Henderson also had some time to fix other things in his time away from the game.
“I have had four of five hand operations that just needed fix ups for the last year or two,” said Henderson.
“I have had two fingers that have been done, my thumb has been done and had a bone graft, it was kind of stuff that was in the pipeline and it was another incentive to come back from New Zealand early.
“The surgeon, Michael Eames, who I have become quite friendly with over the last few years, was going off on holiday in the middle of July and he said ‘if you can come back we’ll get this done’.
“I was booked in at the very end of July but getting it done a month earlier means I’m a month further down the line, it’s all good now and basically fixed once and for all.
“I had a dodgy thumb going back three seasons ago, I had a diffusion on it then I got a ban and the diffusion fractured just post Six Nations when we were in South Africa playing the Bulls.
“On the back of the hand I had an issue the bones splaying and the fingers we’re staying together, and the other ones were constantly dislocating and other bits and pieces.”
Ulster open their URC campaign against Connacht in Belfast on Saturday, September 17.
Source: Belfast News Letter