Henry's unlikely Dragons encore
The last time Ben Henry played against the Dragons he left the field thinking his season was over.
After limping off the Eden Park turf in Round 2, with a knee injury both he and the club doctors believed to be a torn ACL, it appeared he was facing back-to-back knee reconstructions, having torn the same ACL in May last year.
Instead, just a month on, he returns to face St George Illawarra again, coming straight back into the NRL side after his injury layoff.
That in itself speaks volumes about the level of respect he commands from coach Andrew McFadden.
“It is always good to be back playing something that you love, I’m grateful to 'Cappy' (McFadden) for giving me the opportunity to play in the NRL squad,” Henry said.
“I was surprised [at coming straight back into NRL] actually, but Cappy had faith in me to do what I do.
“I thought I had done my ACL again [in Round 2], I was thinking about nine months of doing nothing but watching footy, that’s all that went through my head.
“But the scans said otherwise; it was the first time I have been happy that a doctor was wrong!”
In only seven games last year 22-year-old utility Henry averaged 25 tackles and 77 metres. But he brings something to this Warriors team that no statistician can measure, according to centre Ngani Laumape.
“He is a big part of our team and club, to have a person of his calibre is really good for this side,” Laumape said.
“His workload and leadership, and also his communication is what he brings to the team.”
After suffering two knee injuries in under a year, Henry admits that it does weigh on his mind, but insisted it wouldn’t be affecting his game come Saturday night at WIN Stadium.
“I think I am always going to be nervous about my knee," he said. “But I know the players here that have done ACL injuries and they are moving around fine, so I just have to put it out of my mind.
“It’s not even during the game, I just think about scoring a try or catching the ball, I’m not really aware of it. It’s more at training when you are just going half-pace.”
Despite Henry stating that his fitness is only at around 90-95 per cent, McFadden said he had no concerns about putting him straight back into the NRL side.
“We have been pretty conservative with Ben, he has been training well the last couple of weeks and done a fair bit of contact,” McFadden said.
“He is ready, he has come to me and said he is ready, so I feel confident picking him in the first grade team.”
Henry will join five other Junior Warriors graduates in the team this weekend, re-uniting with Siliva Havili who played in the NYC side Henry captained to victory in 2011.