Robbie Henshaw is ready to kick on after what he admits has been a "rocky" start to the season.

The Leinster centre started all the three Lions Test matches last summer but his reintegration back into league and European rugby was hampered by a foot injury.

He missed out on Ireland first two games of the November series, including the win over New Zealand, before starting the last match against Argentina.

The Athlone man played for Leinster against Bath in the Champions Cup at the end of January before an abductor issue forced him to miss the opening Guinness Six Nations win over Wales.

Henshaw won his 54th cap off the bench against France last Saturday.

"It's been a bit of a rocky one for me this year," said the 28-year-old.

"I feel fresh, to be honest, so I'm ready to go.

"I've been training away the last couple of weeks and I'm ready to step forward now.

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"Obviously, the stop-start season for me hasn't been ideal, but I'm hoping for a stronger finish to the second half of the season.

"The body feels good, mentally I feel good, I feel sharp, so it's exciting."

When fit, Henshaw is usually a starter for Andy Farrell's side, with just five of his caps coming as a replacement.

Asked about any conversation with the head coach about being left off the starting XV, he said: "We spoke briefly and it was just to make sure I was ready to go, add value wherever you can, don't try and stand out and do it all yourself.

"It was more to bring energy once you come into the game towards the end and make sure you really show you lift it with energy. It’s the same for all the subs.

"They are basically the 'energisers' when they come on, that’s a huge role for everyone coming off the bench. It hasn’t been my first time in here to come off the bench, I’ve done it before.

Henshaw (l) singing Ireland's Call before the match

"It's about waiting for your opportunity, first and foremost.

"The lads are going really well, fair play to them. It's been a good start and they've been building.

"But for me it's just sticking to my process and what's worked for me.

"I have big confidence in that. So don't try to force things, just do the right thing in training and stay positive.

"All I can worry about is me, and making sure I do the right thing.

"You're always looking at developing your core skill-set, both in attack and defence, and your vision, vision training is big so I've been working on that a lot.

"There's a lot of areas to keep brushing up on."

Ireland are playing catch-up in the tournament now with France leading the way following two wins from two.

Reflecting on the loss to France and the upcoming game against Italy, the former Connacht centre said: "Electric is probably the word I'd use to describe it. Even from the warm-up, the stadium was bouncing.

"We knew that was going to happen, we prepared well all week for that cauldron effect, going into the heat of battle. It can affect your decision making and your communication, because you can't hear as much compared to the last couple of years. Playing in empty stadiums it's a lot easier to communicate.

"But again, we feel that didn't really have an effect on us as such, we definitely had our opportunities there to go ahead and win the game.

"I think we can definitely draw a line in the sand, take a step forward and take all the learnings from that game.

"A couple of weeks after Italy we travel to Twickenham and it's another really intense environment. Some guys might not have played there before with a full stadium, and it's up there with Stade de France.

"We'll definitely learn from it and roll our sleeves up for Italy next week, who we always know are a really physical challenge. They'll definitely test us physically."

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