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Henshaw at Fullback yesterday

  • 03-02-2019 12:09pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 52 ✭✭✭ Cowboy848


    I was watching Henshaws performance yesterday and it got me thinking about what is the primary function of the fullback in defence. Is it to cover the backfield for kicks/grubbers through or is it being the last man in defence.

    In some of the defensive systems I have worked with we have always used the fullback as the man to cover for kicks/grubbers through not necessarily being the last man in defence. Let me elaborate. In first phase ball a defence can use drift defence which means there are enough backs to cover the opposition backline without the fullback being needed to tackle the last man. This is very effective and in essence gives you an extra man defensively if all the backs push out and make their hits.

    Wherethis defence sometimes gets pulled out of shape is on phase play where there might be a forward in the defensive line who doesn't push up and out off 2nd/3rd/4th etc phase play. This in turn requires players to hold in on their man and can create overlaps for the attacking team. The fullback is then required to make it up from backfield into the line to hit the last man. What Kearney does so well is not making up the ground to put in the hit, he simply forces the defender through pace to make an early decision and invariably he calls the bluff correctly by hitting the attacker if he dummies or using the touchline as a defender if he passes in a 2 V 1 situation. It's not his ability to make up the ground which makes him a top class last line defender it's his ability to force the attacker into making a decision then reading this correctly and making the hit.

    It struck me watching yesterday that Henshaw was always trying to make up the ground in defence and get to the gainline by the time the ball had gone to the last man. With the spaces a fullback has to cover this simply isn't possible. Henshaw should have done a Kearney and covered the backfield for kicks without sprinting to make it to the gainline by the time the ball went to the last man. This might leave a 2V1 or a 1 V 1 but what Kearney is so effective at doing defensively by getting there that half second later is forcing the attacker to make a decision or to hesitate by closing down the space quickly when he breaks the last line. Kearney is good in double bluff situations and usually the attacker with only a half second to decide what to do usually runs straight in to Kearney and his superior bulk usually takes him down.

    This brings me back to yesterday's game and Henshaw trying to get up to the gainline too quickly at the expennse of covering the backfield for kicks. What should he have done? He should have held back for kicks and only when one didn't go through force the hand of the attacker. This game of double bluffs usually cuts the odds for defender in half by taking away the decision making from the attacker by covering for kick through. With the only option of running with the ball the defender now has a 1V1 simply to defend or a 2V1 where he has the touchline and can cut down space to force a decision from the attacker.

    It's a very high skilled situation and happens across 20 to the 30 metres of space but with guile and smarts the fullback can tilt the odds in his favour while still covering for kicks through. It's a very difficult skill to master as it happens at full pace and across massive space but if mastered creates a situation where the fullback doesn't have to make it up to the gainline in defence and can cover for kicks.

    I think this knowledge was where Henshaw was off yesterday and he wasn't holding back for kicks through trying to make it to the line too quickly. It's a skill that takes composure and smarts to master and Robbie was off just slightly on yesterday.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,731 ✭✭✭ Tim Robbins


    Even in referee'ing when your perception of time and space has to go up or you will seriously struggle. Playing against England at 15, in a VI nations game when you haven't even played a Heineken Cup game there and you are just coming back from fitness is a risk. I thought a few times he did very well as they were targeting him, other times he just got caught out.

    I think, hindsight being twenty - twenty vision it would have been better to even play Joey, TOH, Conway or dare I say it Zebo there. But I think RH has the attributes to play that position.

    You could also say given the way England played yesterday, Farrel may have done better than Ringrose and even Ruddock better than O'Mahony but this is all hindsight being 20-20 vision.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 226 ✭✭ Jewelers


    pack lost the game not henshaw


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 14,138 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Zzippy


    Even in referee'ing when you go up a level you're perception of time and space
    has to go up. Playing against England at 15, in a VI nations game when you haven't even played a Heineken Cup game there and you are just coming back from fitness is a risk. I thought a few times he did very well as they were targeting him, other times he just got caught out.

    I think, hindsight being twenty - twenty vision it would have been better to even play Joey, TOH, Conway or dare I say it Zebo there. But I think RH has the attributes to play that position.

    You could also say given the way England played yesterday, Farrel may have done better than Ringrose and even Ruddock better than O'Mahony but this is all hindsight being 20-20 vision.


    He actually has played Heineken Cup games at fullback. Your other points all stand.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,731 ✭✭✭ Tim Robbins


    Zzippy wrote: »
    He actually has played Heineken Cup games at fullback. Your other points all stand.

    That was for Connacht thought right? His best season there was the centre partnership with Aki.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 14,138 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Zzippy


    That was for Connacht thought right? His best season there was the centre partnership with Aki.

    Yep. And the year we won the Pro12 he actually played a fair bit at fullback for the first half of the season.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,089 ✭✭✭ Happy4all


    This is the sort of thread that you would normally see on a soccer forum, that is slating players on an individual basis on separate threads. Hasn't it been discussed enough on match thread and Ireland thread?


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,219 ✭✭✭✭ Clegg


    Murray Keinsella has done an excellent analysis piece on this subject. But he laid blame on the entire back three rather than just Henshaw.

    One thing he picked out was the wings pushing up as per Farrell's defensive system. It did Henshaw no favours when covering the backfield. England's kicking game was perfectly planned to pull and push Henshaw all over the backfield and pressure him into kicks he didn't want to make. Essentially the wings should have been tasked with dropping that bit deeper and helping to cover those kicks.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,728 Former Former


    Zzippy wrote: »
    He actually has played Heineken Cup games at fullback. Your other points all stand.

    The last of which was January 2014...

    Henshaw's skillset was never in question, but his reading of the game, positioning and marshalling of the other backs very much was. That's not something you can pick up quickly and it's not something you can learn in training. We've seen pro fullbacks go through their entire careers and not figure it out, it was a huge ask of Henshaw. The fact that he had previously been a fullback was basically meaningless.

    England played it very cleverly. I don't think they put any high balls down his throat, but there were lots of kicks in behind, putting the ball into space where the fullback should be sweeping up and they profited massively.

    It was a big risk by Joe and a brave call but ultimately it didn't pay off.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,731 ✭✭✭ Tim Robbins


    It was a big risk by Joe and a brave call but ultimately it didn't pay off.
    EOS first 15 were super obvious in 2007 and we were way too predictable.
    I hope Schmict keeps taking a few risks and throwing a few surprises. Even if it means they don't all pay off.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 226 ✭✭ Jewelers


    The last of which was January 2014...

    Henshaw's skillset was never in question, but his reading of the game, positioning and marshalling of the other backs very much was. That's not something you can pick up quickly and it's not something you can learn in training. We've seen pro fullbacks go through their entire careers and not figure it out, it was a huge ask of Henshaw. The fact that he had previously been a fullback was basically meaningless.

    England played it very cleverly. I don't think they put any high balls down his throat, but there were lots of kicks in behind, putting the ball into space where the fullback should be sweeping up and they profited massively.

    It was a big risk by Joe and a brave call but ultimately it didn't pay off.

    so you think if Rob was playing we would have won ?


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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 15,519 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Neil3030


    Jewelers wrote: »
    so you think if Rob was playing we would have won ?

    If Rob were playing (and fit) I reckon you could scratch off at least one of their first three tries, as they were all mistakes by back three players. England would still have won, because they played better than us, but not by so much.


  • Registered Users Posts: 52 ✭✭✭ Cowboy848


    I suppose we wouldn’t have conceded all three tries but this isn’t a thread to put blame anyone -it is a thread to determine what is our defensive system for the back 3 at international level.

    It seems Kearney holds back further in defence and covers kicks through in that way – only when the last attacker breaks through the gainline does he make an effort to close down the space.

    This would point me to the fact that we use drift off phase play under Kearney but didn’t under Henshaw. Or else Henshaw/the coaches got it wrong in execution?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,419 ✭✭✭ evil_seed


    His inexperience at this level was certainly highlighted. However, the defensive systems didn't help and playing against one of the best 10s in the world didn't help either. He was Farrell's puppet on a string for the majority of the game. He'll learn


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,564 ✭✭✭✭ Buer


    I wouldn't level any blame whatsoever at Henshaw and I have seen very little of that anywhere. I would put the blame squarely at the feet of the coaching staff. I find it all a bit odd, to be honest. Multiple people saw this selection and said that England were going to look to test Henshaw by mixing up their kicking game using guys like Farrell and Slade. Henshaw hadn't played there in 4 years yet we didn't appear to really adjust our back three approach significantly i.e. he was expected to cover the back field in the manner that Kearney does with the wingers playing high up.

    Henshaw battled well and did what he could but he doesn't have the honed sense of position and prediction that a full back needs. Kearney didn't have it at all to begin with either but developed it after a few years of playing and working alongside Dempsey was no bad thing either. When Daly put the kick in for Nowell's try, Henshaw was under the posts in the middle of the field which is miles away from where you'd want him, ideally. If he's in a better position, he would be in with a strong chance of impacting on the breaking ball after Stockdale spills it.

    Schmidt gets a pass because he's obviously a superb coach and has been massively successful but the selection was so bizzare for him and the way it panned out was hardly unpredictable.

    If Earls is out, as expected, do we play Henshaw at 15 again supported by Stockdale and Larmour who are 22 and 21 respectively and still learning the systems and positioning at this level themselves? The Scottish back three and Finn Russell are well capable of mixing things up and testing us defensively again so it will be a big call for Schmidt. Part of me thinks they should stick with it if it's their intention to have Henshaw there long term. The worst has happened now and he should be allowed continue his learning. But this is the 6N. It's a big call to make to risk sacrificing the tournament which can never really happen.

    Longer term, I'd be happy to see Henshaw play 15 and it could be a great solution for Ireland but he needs time there to reacquaint himself with the position. I find the opening game of the 6N a really strange time to try it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,248 kingofthekong


    Think Henshaw did fine and its worth the potential benefits of keeping him at full back against Scotland, if he becomes proficient there then Irelands backline looks quite impressive,

    Irelands forwards were dominated which made life difficult for the entire backline - always on the back foot


  • Registered Users Posts: 37,978 irishbucsfan


    Henshaw absolutely did not do fine. No one in the back 3 did fine. They were all atrocious for the time they were there. A disastrous day.

    All quality players and all will have huge contributions again in future, but a day to forget from the very first minute.


  • Registered Users Posts: 52 ✭✭✭ Cowboy848


    I’m not sure he has the pace for fullback – you have to have a quick acceleration as well as good top speed to cover the ground at fullback and Henshaw looked very slow to react to situations. I think its match sharpness but also knowing the position well and having the pace to execute.

    Sometimes at fullback if you get too caught up in trying to cover the whole backfield you do yourself a disservice and can’t cover either side very well in behind. I think this is what happened to Henshaw in the try you refer to Beur – Robbie was trying to cover both sides of the backfield and was caught out of position when the play reversed to the other side. I think in that situation Kearney isn’t even trying to get across the pitch he’s just not there and people don’t blame someone for a defensive lapse if they are not involved in the play. Robbie at least made an effort to get across.

    I think Farrell doesn’t understand the difficulties of covering the backfield for fullbacks and sold Robbie out on Saturday.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,725 ✭✭✭ Tigerandahalf


    From what I saw on tv I thought he did ok.
    He did really well at scrambling back, picking up the ball and ensuring a defensive ruck could be formed. He did this on a couple of occasions when we were on the ropes.

    You also have the issue of Stockdale being a dodgy defender. He is always up high in the line looking for an intercept but then there is huge space in behind him.

    Someone mentioned above having Stockdale, Henshaw and Larmour as the back 3 for Scotland. It might be better to put Conway on the right wing and have Addison on the bench. Larmour is still very raw for this level.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,266 ✭✭✭ monkeybutter


    Henshaw absolutely did not do fine. No one in the back 3 did fine. They were all atrocious for the time they were there. A disastrous day.

    All quality players and all will have huge contributions again in future, but a day to forget from the very first minute.

    totally agree, back 3 were atrocious on the day.

    All those brilliant but a touch lucky bounces of the ball came back to haunt Stockdale, but that's the brilliance of rugby, the ball can do anything and make you look foolish even when you are not.

    Earls was just not up for it on the day, possibly our worst player, seemed to be injured even before he was taken out, by what should have been another yellow card.

    Full back was a disaster, how many time have we terrorized other teams full backs, well the tables were turned.

    On top of that, the half backs did nowt to help the situation by adjusting play, too many random aimless box kicks, no kicks to touch to test their line out and make them think twice about pushing up so hard

    Look, we played no worse really than versus France last year, and we were let off the hook by a stupid french team, well England played about as well as they could have, and we got burned.

    The 3 Tongans just played brilliantly and showed why they were missed so much, so much stenght


  • Registered Users Posts: 804 ✭✭✭ hahashake


    The 3 Tongans just played brilliantly and showed why they were missed so much, so much stenght

    FYI Manu is short for Manusamoa and he's Samoan.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,564 ✭✭✭✭ Buer


    From what I saw on tv I thought he did ok.
    He did really well at scrambling back, picking up the ball and ensuring a defensive ruck could be formed. He did this on a couple of occasions when we were on the ropes.

    The point is that a well positioned full back shouldn't be scrambling back just in time to set up a ruck. At test level, you'd be looking for them to be in a position to collect the ball and get some sort of forward momentum whether by returning with the boot or carrying.

    Henshaw wasn't really in a position to do that. When he did get back to the ball it was last ditch stuff where he was being swallowed up.

    For the Nowell try, England went for ball off the top in a line out and moved it into midfield. Farrell and Daly line up outside to the left of the ruck that Tuilagi sets up so Henshaw goes into a position to defend that wing. But when Youngs goes to the ruck to start the 3rd phase, they both swap immediately back to the near side leaving only a couple of forwards (and May way out on his own) on that side of the field. Henshaw reacts slowly and never identified that danger. They had Tuilagi, Farrell, Slade, Daly and Nowell all on the opposite side of the pitch to Henshaw who was jogging back over. You can see him circled below as Daly kicks the ball.

    Again, I don't want this to be a criticism of Henshaw, it's not his fault if he isn't able to read a test level attack from fullback having not played there for 4 years. But he was struggling significantly to be in a position where he could influence some big plays.

    57fabdab-2a64-43dd-aefc-5a3756c10d3f-original.jpg?width=1920&height=1080&fit=bounds


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,579 ✭✭✭✭ stephen_n


    Buer wrote: »
    The point is that a well positioned full back shouldn't be scrambling back just in time to set up a ruck. At test level, you'd be looking for them to be in a position to collect the ball and get some sort of forward momentum whether by returning with the boot or carrying.

    Henshaw wasn't really in a position to do that. When he did get back to the ball it was last ditch stuff where he was being swallowed up.

    For the Nowell try, England went for ball off the top in a line out and moved it into midfield. Farrell and Daly line up outside to the left of the ruck that Tuilagi sets up so Henshaw goes into a position to defend that wing. But when Youngs goes to the ruck to start the 3rd phase, they both swap immediately back to the near side leaving only a couple of forwards (and May way out on his own) on that side of the field. Henshaw reacts slowly and never identified that danger. They had Tuilagi, Farrell, Slade, Daly and Nowell all on the opposite side of the pitch to Henshaw who was jogging back over. You can see him circled below as Daly kicks the ball.

    Again, I don't want this to be a criticism of Henshaw, it's not his fault if he isn't able to read a test level attack from fullback having not played there for 4 years. But he was struggling significantly to be in a position where he could influence some big plays.

    57fabdab-2a64-43dd-aefc-5a3756c10d3f-original.jpg?width=1920&height=1080&fit=bounds

    Even after Daly put the kick up he continued to jog. When the ball is touched down he has only covered half the distance from where he is to the try scorer.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,564 ✭✭✭✭ Buer


    stephen_n wrote: »
    Even after Daly put the kick up he continued to jog. When the ball is touched down he has only covered half the distance from where he is to the try scorer.

    Yeah, it was a touch of ball watching. Even from that position in the freeze frame, he could have been close enough to try to react to the spill if he had put the foot down. Still unlikely he'd have made it but he would have been in with a chance.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,006 ✭✭✭ vetinari


    What I really don't understand is, what if the Henshaw selection was a success?

    Would he have played a few more games this six nations there at full back?
    And then gone back to Leinster and never played there again?
    And he would then be our top backup to Kearney?

    It's all so bizarre, how low an opinion must Schimdt have of Larmour, Conway and Addisson.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,564 ✭✭✭✭ Buer


    vetinari wrote: »
    What I really don't understand is, what if the Henshaw selection was a success?

    Would he have played a few more games this six nations there at full back?
    And then gone back to Leinster and never played there again?
    And he would then be our top backup to Kearney?

    It's all so bizarre, how low an opinion must Schimdt have of Larmour, Conway and Addisson.

    I think it was a touch of getting the best players onto the field and solving a selection headache for themselves from the coaching staff. If it had worked, I don't think people could have any issue with respect to Larmour, Conway or Addison. Henshaw is a higher quality player than all three and if he demonstrated he could perform at full back to a high level, then he's in the team.

    As it stands, Schmidt may well persist with him. If they want him to be a full back long term, they can't ditch him after one showing. But they will need to get Leinster on board with it which wouldn't really suit them, I imagine.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,851 ✭✭✭ Wegians89


    Henshaw should stay at 15 for the next two matches at least. Schmidt is smarter than throwing the idea away after one game. There’s a number of factors that cost Ireland the game and made all the outside backs look terrible, mainly from. 1-10 Ireland didn’t play to their usual incredibly high standards. Also taking into account that henshaw has played flip all rugby this season, playing in a position he had to get back up to speed in, I’m sure joe will give him the opportunity to go again.

    Playing henshaw at 15 will take time but it will be worth it. Gives Schmidt a person he trusts on similar levels to Kearney to slot back to 15 if needed, gets three world class individuals on the pitch, and lets henshaw play in his favorite position. The English match wasn’t pretty but it’ll only improve.

    The only way I think henshaw won’t start at 15 next week is if both ringrose and earls are out. In which case henshaw at 13 with Kearney back at 15


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 149 ✭✭ rm75


    Wegians89 wrote: »
    Henshaw should stay at 15 for the next two matches at least. Schmidt is smarter than throwing the idea away after one game. There’s a number of factors that cost Ireland the game and made all the outside backs look terrible, mainly from. 1-10 Ireland didn’t play to their usual incredibly high standards. Also taking into account that henshaw has played flip all rugby this season, playing in a position he had to get back up to speed in, I’m sure joe will give him the opportunity to go again.

    Playing henshaw at 15 will take time but it will be worth it. Gives Schmidt a person he trusts on similar levels to Kearney to slot back to 15 if needed, gets three world class individuals on the pitch, and lets henshaw play in his favorite position. The English match wasn’t pretty but it’ll only improve.

    The only way I think henshaw won’t start at 15 next week is if both ringrose and earls are out. In which case henshaw at 13 with Kearney back at 15

    Depends, is he seen as successor to Kearney at 15 for Leinster ? Personally i'd be of the view that if Carbery needs to start at 10 for a province the same should apply to our 2nd choice FB. I wouldnt doubt that he could do very well there if he was playing there regularly.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,260 ✭✭✭ Dubinusa


    Watching the match back and I thought Henshaw was way off the pace.
    Very slow turning and even when running he looked slow.
    I think Addison would hgv ave done better, Larmour also.
    I would do it again. He couldn't possibly be any worse!.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 226 ✭✭ Jewelers


    Dubinusa wrote: »
    Watching the match back and I thought Henshaw was way off the pace.
    Very slow turning and even when running he looked slow.
    I think Addison would hgv ave done better, Larmour also.
    I would do it again. He couldn't possibly be any worse!.

    lamour nearly shat himself the first high ball kicked at him so no . Think people need to start saying Joe ****ed up more so than a player who hasn't played in that position in how long internationally ?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,260 ✭✭✭ Dubinusa


    Yeah, agreed. Joe trying to be clever and it backfired spectacularly.
    But, Henshaw was awful. Anyone of Addison or Larmour would have done better imo.
    Larmour has been good at fb for Leinster recently. I'm not saying he's an international class fb! Just pointing out he's got experience at fb and was available.
    Joe wants to get certain guys on the field and some out of position.
    The reality is, there's better options in front of him.


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