Henderson excited by England call-up
Australia-raised Ian Henderson today spoke about his passion to play for England after being named in coach Steve McNamara’s elite training squad.
The Catalan Dragons’ Torquay-born hooker, who played in Auckland for New Zealand Warriors before moving to France 12 months ago, represented Scotland in the last World Cup with his two brothers but insists he is English “through and through”.
The 28-year-old Henderson is one of nine new faces and the most eye-catching inclusion in McNamara’s 32-man squad chosen to prepare for two mid-season matches against the Exiles.
“Playing for England has always been a passion of mine, since I was 10-year-old,” he said.
“It’s something me and my brothers would have loved to have done. I called Steve a year ago or more to let him know I was available if ever he needed me.
“To be finally in the squad is great and, if I get a game, it will be even better.
“I was five when we emigrated but my dad was a Glaswegian and all his family are Scottish and my mother is from Shrewsbury and all her family are English.
“Playing with my brothers for Scotland was definitely the highlight of my career and it was a great experience but I’m happy with my decision.
“I haven’t got the accent but I feel more passionate about playing for England. I called my mum last night with the news and she’s excited, as I am. I’m really happy to get the call.”
Henderson, who was a member of Bradford Bulls’ 2005 Grand Final-winning team, is confident of being fit in time for England’s first game against the Exiles on June 16 after damaging ankle ligaments in the Dragons’ defeat at Wigan Warriors on Sunday.
“It’s something I’ve done before but it’s nowhere near as bad and I think I’ll only miss a few weeks,” he said.
Henderson will be competing with St Helens’ James Roby for the hooking role, with Leeds Rhinos’ Rob Burrow also in the frame after earning a recall.
“Ian had a very good season last year with Catalans and his form this year has been sensational,” McNamara said.
Henderson is joined in the England squad by his former Scotland captain Danny Brough, whose switch of allegiance would have earned him a place against the Exiles last season but for injury.
The Huddersfield Giants scrum-half failed to rediscover his touch in time for the Four Nations Series but his club form so far this year made him an irresistible pick.
“He’s got a real spark back into his game,” admitted McNamara, who also finds a place for Wigan forward Gareth Hock, who last played on the international stage in June 2009 when England beat France 66-12 in Paris.
The 28-year-old Hock returned last year from a two-year ban for cocaine use and, like Brough, has been in impressive form for his club so far this year.
“His form has been good and it’s getting better week by week,” said the coach.
“Looking ahead to the World Cup in 2013, if he can maintain that improvement, he’s going to be a real asset.”