Sunday 22 April 2018

Player ratings - Iain Henderson has surely played his way into Warren Gatland's Test squad

Iain Henderson of the British & Irish Lions is tackled by Brad Shields of the Hurricanes during the match between Hurricanes and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Iain Henderson of the British & Irish Lions is tackled by Brad Shields of the Hurricanes during the match between Hurricanes and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Gavin Mairs

The Lions drew their final midweek tour match against the Hurricanes, who staged a late comeback to level things 31-31.

But which players fired and who could be included in the squad for the second Test?

Gavin Mairs delivers his verdict on each player from Wellington.

15. Jack Nowell

This was a massive opportunity for the England player to force his way into the Test squad and he did not disappoint. He backed up his performance against the Chiefs by offering a potent counter-attacking threat from full-back. 8/10​

14. Tommy Seymour

It has been a disappointing tour for the Scotland wing but he finished it on a high, deservedly scoring two tries in a much-improved display, posing a threat to the Highlanders defence on several occasions. 7/10​

13. Jonathan Joseph

The England centre made his first return in three games after a hand injury had disrupted his training and although his defensive work impressed, he struggled to impose his attacking game. 6/10​

12. Robbie Henshaw

A disappointing tour for the Ireland centre ended in a frustrating fashion as he lasted just 18 minutes before he was forced out of the game with a shoulder injury. A quality player though who is young enough to feature in another tour. 5/10

11. George North

The Wales wing needed a powerhouse display put his hand up for the second Test and after a quiet start, benefited from the switch to centre following Henshaw’s injury, seeing more of the ball and running good support line for his try. 7/10​

10. Dan Biggar

The Wales fly-half had a composed start to the contest and landed one brilliant long-range penalty but he appeared to lose control as the Hurricanes’ rallied. A composed display, including one brilliant long-range penalty, and brought a physical edge to the backline. 7/10​

9. Greig Laidlaw

Handling error early on squandered a decent attacking position and again looked off the pace as the Lions attempted to play with a high tempo. His box-kicking though did ask enough questions of the Highlanders back three. 5/10​

1. Joe Marler

The England prop is unfortunate to be behind such quality rivals for the loosehead position because he delivered an impressive combative display that would normally be enough for a Test spot. 8/10​

2. Rory Best

The Ireland hooker led his side superbly, leading from the front with a huge defensive display and carrying hard. Set piece was assured too, apart from one scrum.  7/10​

3. Dan Cole

Like Marler, Cole would be a Test starter after this display but for the competition in his position. Massive contribution and commitment both in carrying and in defence and solid in the scrum. 8/10

4. Iain Henderson

The Ireland lock may just have done enough to force his way into the Test squad with a stellar display. His carrying was outstanding, his pass put North away for his try and charged a kick down too. Only blight was yellow card which opened the door for the Hurricanes’ late surge.  9/10

5. Courtney Lawes

The England lock deserves a place in the Test squad. He showed again the warrior spirit that Gatland is demanding by competing strongly against the Hurricanes line-out and bringing a real edge to the forward exchanges. 8/10​

6. James Haskell

Haskell’s commitment was again not in question but he was not the force of nature we have seen from him in an England shirt. It has been a tough tour and he was not helped by the decision not to use the bench  6/10​

7. Justin Tipuric

We saw glimpses of his link play and his speed to the breakdown was influential as the Lions built their lead in the first half but as the game became more confrontational his impact waned. 6/10​

8. CJ Stander

The longer the tour has gone on, the less impactful Stander has become. He did manage some strong carries but was overshadowed by Brad Shields and tired as the game went on. 6/10

20. George Kruis

The fact that England lock came on for Lawes as early as the 55 th  minute suggests Kruis may have lost his place in the starting Test side and was out shone by both rivals, Lawes and Henderson. 6/10

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