Ben Henry's utility value has seen him ushered back into the Warriors line-up to make his return from a serious knee injury. Copyright: Wayne Drought/NRL Photos.

Elliott thankful for Henry utility value

You might have guessed that tearing your anterior cruciate ligament isn’t much fun. It’s painful, stops you playing footy, and in the case of Ben Henry, your mates laugh at you when they run past at training.

“Some of the rehab exercises for my knee look a bit weird,” Henry laughs. “I guess you have got to do what you have to in order to get it right - even if it means looking funny in front of the boys.”

Embarrassment aside, Henry’s recovery has gone according to plan, helped by having a couple of friends to share the unfortunate journey with.

Both Sione Lousi and 2013 teammate Steve Rapira had also suffered season-ending knee injuries at around the same time.
“That helped me a lot because I wasn’t by myself. I got to know Sione a bit more last year. I got to talk to him and his knee is good now - to see him out playing this year, especially at the Nines was good.

“Also with other more mature players like Jerome Ropati who have had knee reconstructions, I would go to them for advice and they would tell me not to get my head down, to do my rehab work and I would be better for it.”

After making a successful 80-minute comeback at five eighth for the Warriors' NSW Cup side in Round 1, Henry was called up to the NRL squad, taking the place of rehab-buddy Lousi who had a family bereavement.

“To be honest I didn’t [think I would be picked so soon]. When Matt Elliott came up to me it was a bit of a surprise,” Henry told NRL.com.

“The knee felt good during the game, but probably not so good afterwards – it felt a bit puffy. But I got a good 80 minutes to blow out the cobwebs from the lungs.”

The 22-year-old former Junior Warriors captain brings a defensive enthusiasm which is always welcome in a Warriors team that is hardly renowned for it.

Busy on and off the ball, in seven games last year Henry averaged 77 metres and 25 tackles.

But his greatest value according to Elliott is his ability to play several positions across the park. That versatility also makes him a good NRL Fantasy option for coaches seeking a gap-filler over the representative periods, with Henry listed at a centre and second-row forward.

“He gives us back-row and centre cover and if a half fell over we could probably use him there as well,” Elliott said.

“At a pinch if we need him to play hooker for a bit he could do that as well - he is a pretty talented kid.”
 
The utility tag has been kind to him so far, but Henry is clear on where he wants to be in the future.

“I’m getting used to it, but every player would like to play one set position - I prefer second row.

“In the NRL there are a lot of great players in your position so you just have to fit where the coach sees you.”
 
During his extended break from playing Henry threw himself into community work, making a positive difference through the NRL One Community initiative.

“I got to visit a lot more schools, ones I didn’t even know existed, as well as charity events and things like that. It’s always good to get out in the community and give back, because it has given me so much,” he said.