Last November Lisburn rugby star Chris Henry was having heart surgery; just eleven months later he is part of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad who will be taking on France in a crucial Pool D match on Sunday.
The former Wallace High School student suffered a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) or ‘mini stroke’ last year, and had heart surgery to repair a defect in his heart wall.
Yet less than two weeks ago he was scoring a try for Ireland in front of a record crowd at Wembley Stadium, against Romania.
And on Sunday he could potentially line out for Ireland in their crucial Pool D clash against France, at the Millennium Stadium knowing that a win will put them on top of the pool and therefore likely to avoid a quarter-final clash with defending champions New Zealand.
Henry showed bravery, drive and determination to come back from his health problems to not only play rugby again, returning to the field in March for Ulster’s match against Cardiff, but to then fulfil his dream and make the World Cup squad.
To score a try for his country in front of a record crowd at Wembley must have been the icing on the cake for the local star.
And those at his former school are eagerly awaiting the pivotal tie, hoping to see Henry take to the field.
Neil Hinds, Head of PE, Master i/c Rugby at Wallace commented: “Pupils past and present, staff, governors and parents of The Wallace High School are avidly looking forward to this weekend and Ireland vs France in The Rugby World Cup.
“We are all hoping that past pupil Chris Henry is selected and has the opportunity to put in a good performance and get a win against the French.”
The Ireland flanker was ruled out of rugby for the foreseeable future after suffering a mini-stroke hours before an Autumn Test against South Africa last November.
At the time, the 30-year-old said, “It was terrifying. I was preparing for the worst at stages.”
However, his participation in the World Cup is testament to his mental strength and desire to overcome the most challenging of circumstances.
Upcoming rugby stars at Wallace recently sent Henry their messages of support.
Second row Charlie Irvine said: “On behalf of the team I’d like to wish you the best of luck for a successful and injury free World Cup.”
Josh Cardosi added: “Good luck, do it for WHS!”