Roosters' Henderson comes full circle
At 32 years of age veteran Roosters hooker Ian Henderson will make his Downer NRL Auckland Nines debut this weekend, a whole 13 seasons after making his NRL debut at the same club.
Apart from returning club legend Braith Anasta, Henderson will be the oldest member of the Roosters' Nines make-up in what is otherwise a relatively inexperienced squad.
Nonetheless Henderson says he feels "lucky" to return to the club where his NRL career began, following stints at the Eels, Bradford, the Warriors and the Catalans.
"It's funny, I don't feel that old. I'm only 32 and I guess it's oldish in rugby league years but I don't feel that old. I'm really just chasing some runs in the legs [this weekend]," Henderson told NRL.com.
"We have had a hard pre-season but you can't compare [the Nines] to NRL games either, it's just going to be real quick so I'm simply looking to get the ball in hand and touch up on my skills really.
"It has certainly been good to be back [at the Roosters] too. It feels a bit like home for me back in Sydney. It's been exciting – it's been hard – but it's been enjoyable.
"I played all my juniors at the Roosters in the Harold Matthews and SG Ball and all that so you know I've always had the Roosters in my heart. I'm pretty fortunate and lucky to be back."
Thankful to have had been coached by Roosters coach Trent Robinson at the Catalans in 2011 and 2012, Henderson couldn't be happier to have his former mentor by his side as he embarks on his NRL return.
"It certainly helped having Robbo as coach over [in France], he knows what I can add to this team and luckily enough it all came together for me," Henderson said.
"My first goal now is to be in the 17 every week. I have a few goals this year but if I can get that down pat first and foremost then I can hopefully move on to other things after that."
Henderson was buoyed to see his younger teammates take the most from their community visit to Auckland's New Lynn Stags junior rugby league club.
"It's an enjoyable part of the game for me and for most of the players. It's good to be able to give back to the grassroots and give back to the game," Henderson said.
"It gives you a good feeling too knowing how happy these kids are. Some of these guys [who I'm playing with] are fresh out of school and it's just good to see the smile on their faces hey.
"When we turned up and the whole crowd went berserk, everyone was smiling ear to ear. It's rewarding because everyone realises you're doing a good thing for them."