Ulster's Chris Henry hoping he can repeat debut history against Wasps
NINE years on, Chris Henry would gladly settle for a repeat of the result that marked his Ulster debut, when the province squares up to Wasps in Sunday’s crucial Champions Cup clash in Coventry.
The back row forward is one of four current Ulster players who lined out in a 21-10 Heineken Cup win over Harlequins at the old Ravenhill in January 2009.
As it stands, the bottom line is that a similar outcome on Sunday would be enough for the province to secure a place in a European quarter-final for the first time in four years.
A bonus-point victory would clinch Ulster top-place in Pool One while a win of any variety would be sufficient to hold down at least one of the three best runner-up slots which would also ensure progression.
Ulster will at least have the advantage of knowing what they have to do after Saturday’s games across the other pools.
The 33-year-old Henry can still vividly recall his Ulster debut in which Cave and Best scored the tries which earned Ulster their win over Harlequins.
“Jeez, it’s gone quick, I guess, overall. I remember the game really well. I was very, very nervous, but yeah it’s pretty cool that I’ve been playing nine years,” said Henry.
“Especially because that first cap was a European Cup game against a big English team.
“Yeah, it was an unbelievable day for me and obviously something you’ll always remember and it’s exciting that I’ve lasted nine years.
“There’s a real good mix of slightly older guys and a lot of youth coming in there too, so if I can bring any of that experience, great.
“Look, we’ve got a good list of guys who have been at the very top level and I guess you’ve got to bring that up, but it doesn’t really matter what age you are.
“If you’ve had those experiences and you can keep your cool and bring that level of adrenaline and focus, but make sure you can make good decisions, that’s what I’ll try to bring at the weekend.”
Henry admits Ulster are not only in a good position in the pool following last week’s 20-13 win over La Rochelle and Wasps’ surprise loss to Harlequins, but also because of the final weekend’s fixture scheduling.
“Yeah, it’s nice it’s the last game and we’ll have a good idea of what points are required,” he said.
“Those games when you play early in the weekend, it is tough watching all the other games and waiting for the results to come in.
“I think we’ll probably get to the hotel and, no doubt, like a lot of the teams, we like to watch the other games anyway.
“I’ve no doubt we’ll all be sitting in the team room, fuelling up and watching.
“It’s a European Champions Cup weekend and it’s exciting to be able to watch other teams as well.
“It gets the adrenaline going, you’re sitting there watching all the other big teams play.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling knowing you’re going to go out the next day and do the same thing.”
“But I’m sure Wasps will be hurting from that defeat – they are a team of serious history – and there’s no doubt there’s going to be a reaction from them.
“We know that, we accept that, but it’s about imposing ourselves on them.”
Wasps will be without England flanker James Haskell, who was handed a four-week ban yesterday after being sent off for a dangerous tackle on Jamie Roberts in the Quins game.
Ulster will be missing Craig Gilroy, who is out for four weeks after suffering a fractured cheek bone, meaning Cave could start after replacing the winger against La Rochelle.