Patience pays off for Edinburgh winger Jake Henry

The 23-year-old has at last played a competitive pro match after having his career set back by some lengthy injuries

Jake Henry, in action here for Southern Knights, will make his Edinburgh debut against Stormers tomorrow afternoon. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Jake Henry, seen here playing for the Southern Knights, made his Edinburgh debut last week. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SPEED and skill are among Jake Henry’s major attributes on a rugby field. Off it, his chief qualities surely include patience and persistence, given how long the Edinburgh winger had to wait, and in such adverse circumstances, before finally making his professional debut last weekend.

Now 23, Henry has provided plentiful proof of his talent since his earliest days in the game, and he has been capped by Scotland at Under-20s and 7s. He quickly gave evidence of his worth against the Stormers last Saturday too, scoring a try in Edinburgh’s URC defeat.

But, speaking earlier this week from Durban as Edinburgh prepare for this Saturday’s match against the Sharks, Henry admitted that because of a couple of serious injuries there had been times when he thought his chance of playing at pro level might never come. “My debut has been a long time coming,” he said. “I’ve just been out for so long with so many injuries.

“When I first came to Edinburgh I ruptured my achilles, then got rehabilitated back from that. I went on loan to the sevens, then played some pre-season games at Edinburgh – then in training I got caught awkwardly and ruptured my ACL. That put me out for a good year. 

“After the knee injury there were a couple of times when I was worried if I’d be able to come back and perform at that level. But the staff and the boys around me pushed me on each day to be able to get back and that was huge. 

“You just keep in good spirits – the boys here are massive for that. These big injuries can be quite dark, and having your mates around you pulling you through has been huge.”

While sidelined, Henry kept himself busy with an unusual hobby – customising boots, both for himself and for other players who order them. “While I was out not playing I customised a couple of boots – and I was wearing one of them last week,” he explained. “That has been pretty good for the head when I was missing out on all the stuff that I love doing. 

“I take a boot, I’ll draft up a wee design I want to put on it, and then I’ll start putting it down on to the boot. Then I take the factory finish off the boot, put on my design and then put a protective finish over that.

“I did a pair for Adam Hastings – a  Gloucester-themed boot for him. He was probably the last person I did something for, when I had more free time then.

“I’ve not got as much time now. But I’m still ticking away with it.”

It remains to be seen if Henry will be selected for his second pro game when Edinburgh take on the Sharks, but even if he misses out then, he is confident he will get more chances before too long. “There are definitely going to be opportunities – we’ve got a couple of ‘A’ fixtures coming up. So if I’m not playing for the main team I’ll definitely do some ‘A’ stuff and still get the rugby moments ticking over.”

If he does keep his place on Saturday, he will be up against some formidable opponents in the Sharks line-up such as international back-three players Makazole Mapimpi  and Aphelele Fassi. So how does he plan to deal with that?

“Just sticking to the game plan that we have, and not worrying about those guys, but definitely respecting what they can do. They have wicked feet and are a danger under the high ball. Yeah, I’ll just stick to my basics and try and put out my best performance if playing.”

About Stuart Bathgate 1387 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

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