Monday 19 February 2018

Austin Healey includes Iain Henderson and a player who is not even in the squad in his Lions test XV

Iain Henderson impressed against the Highlanders
Iain Henderson impressed against the Highlanders
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Two-time tourist Austin Healey would start Ireland Iain Henderson in the back row for the Lions first test against the All Blacks on June 24.

The Ulster player put in a lacklustre display in the narrow victory over the Provincial Barbarians in the Lions' opening game of the tour and had little impact from the bench in the defeat to the Blues but was back to his best during the 23-22 defeat to the Highlanders yesterday.

The 25-year-old carried well and was very effective as a counter-rucker in a display that certainly impressed Healey.

"There were some players who did their cause the power of good. Kyle Sinckler was excellent, and he just needs to back himself more – or maybe he did not want to run that extra 25 metres when he made that break! Iain Henderson probably played himself into the Test squad, and Robbie Henshaw was a real handful," he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

With Stuart Hogg returning home after an accidental collision with Conor Murray's elbow and the likes of Leigh Halfpenny and Jared Payne struggling for form, Healey has called on Warren Gatland to summon England's Mike Brown from Argentina.

"never thought I would be writing these words, but if the Lions want to win the Test series against New Zealand then not only should Warren Gatland bring Mike Brown into his squad, he should put the England full-back straight into his team," he added

"I have not always been Mike’s biggest fan. But if the Lions are going to implement Gatland’s game plan, which seems to be trying to win by stopping the All Blacks from playing, he is the only man for the job.

"In Gatland’s style the primary job of the full-back is to catch every high ball, make every tackle and fight every man wearing a black shirt. If those are the criteria then Brown is a far better bet than Anthony Watson, Jared Payne or Liam Williams, the current front-runners for the job.

"Payne must be carrying an injury, because he did not look himself in Tuesday’s loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin. Williams likes playing there but he makes two bad mistakes per game. You can get away with those on the wing, where it looks like he will play, but not with No 15 on your back.

"Watson, who I think Gatland will pick, is a completely different type of player. He is a great attacking player who will make a few lovely breaks and take some excellent catches. But he is also a potential weak link defensively, and I think New Zealand will target him."

Healey's Test XV includes four Irishman with Henshaw at outside centre, Henderson at blindside flanker, Conor Murray partnering Owen Farrell (not Jonathan Sexton) and Tadhg Furlong in the front row.

Austin Healy's TEST XV: 15. Mike Brown (England), 14. George North (Wales), 13. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), 12. Ben Te’o (England), 11. Elliot Daly (England), 10. Owen Farrell (England), 9. Conor Murray (Ireland), 1. Mako Vunipola (England), 2. Jamie George (England), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 4. George Kruis (England), 5. Maro Itoje (England), 6. Iain Henderson (Ireland), 7. Justin Tipuric (Wales), 8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales).

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