Iain Henderson eyes Lions Test start

Ulster captain Iain Henderson is hoping he can take his experiences from four years ago with the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand and apply them to win a test cap in South Africa this summer.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 7:00 am

The second row was named in Warren Gatland’s 37-man touring party for the three test series with the world champions this summer.

Henderson made six appearances in the famous red shirt in 2017 but didn’t play in any of the three tests and he is hoping it will be different this time around.

“I am absolutely delighted, obviously it has been playing on my mind for a wee while now, but delighted and grateful for the opportunity to go on tour again and I am looking forward to what will be a very different but equally enjoyable tour,” said Henderson.

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Ulster captain Iain Henderson has been selected for this year’s British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa

“I think the last tour we really didn’t hit the ground running, we edged our way into it and that maybe put me on the back foot from the start. Obviously that wasn’t intentional last time but hopefully I’ll have the knowledge to make sure that doesn’t happen this time and that will be ideal to put my best foot forward.

“Having changed roles in terms of leadership here at Ulster and with Ireland too hopefully I will try to use some of those qualities, the squad has just been announced and we are not sure what the coaches vision is for what they want from the squad.

“I look forward to meeting up with the guys first and foremost and then we will start considering rugby.

“The plan was to be a test starter last time too, but obviously that did not go to plan.

“I’m always massively proud to say I play rugby for Ulster, Ireland and Lions.”

“The pride for me and my family is massive. It’s a massive privilege and an honour to be selected for a second time.

“There’s a lot of things that go into the making of a professional rugby player, that’s not just for me as a Lion but at every level.

“There’s a lot of people who do unseen things, my family, my wife, my parents, my brother, everyone at Ulster and every individual player has that extended rugby family.

“There’s a lot that goes into it, to give my family that wee bit of happiness and have them enjoy chats with their friends.

“I know my aunties and uncles have texted me, all my mum’s friends have been on to her, it’s great to see.

“I think the aspect of two Lions tours is that you get a second shot at all that excitement and I’m really looking forward to it.”