Ulster Rugby have announced that Iain Henderson has been named as the province’s captain for the 2019/20 season.
The 27-year-old, who is currently in Ireland’s training squad ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup, has represented his native Ulster on 105 occasions.
Henderson started his rugby journey at Academy RFC, before continuing his development at Belfast Royal Academy. His talent was further nurtured in the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy and he played club rugby for Queen’s University and Ballynahinch.
The versatile forward represented Ulster and Ireland at various age-grade levels and made his senior provincial debut in April 2012 against Connacht.
Henderson has grown immensely in stature since then and has become a key figure for Ulster and Ireland, winning 44 caps for the latter. He played in four of Ireland’s games during the 2018 Six Nations Grand Slam success and also featured prominently in 2014 and 2015 Championship wins.
His excellent form at provincial and international level was rewarded with a call up to the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017.
Commenting on his appointment as Ulster captain, Iain said:
I’m incredibly proud and excited. I had a good chat with Dan (McFarland) and I think we’re closely aligned in terms of how we see Ulster moving forward.
“I’ve got massive big boots to fill with Rory (Best) outgoing, but it’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to.
“When I’ve captained Ulster on previous occasions, it’s been made a lot easier because of the presence of a number of great leaders around me. It really helps when you’ve got people like Al (O’Connor), Rob (Herring) and Marcell (Coetzee) behind you, who understand what you’re doing and provide unbelievable support.
“Our squad has a very low age profile and one of the most exciting things for me is seeing the hunger within the group and the players’ desire to improve. We also have the likes of Jack (McGrath), Sam (Carter) and Matt (Faddes) coming in, who will add significant experience, so I think we’ve a lot to be excited about going into the new season.”
Commenting on his decision to give Henderson the role, Ulster head coach Dan McFarland explained:
Iain has a deep love for his province. He understands exactly what it means to wear the Ulster jersey and this rubs off on those around him.
“As a leader, he has demonstrated his ability to command respect through his professionalism and talismanic play. Asking Iain to be captain was not a difficult decision and because he is surrounded by a squad of good men, I know that he will flourish.”