"Quite a ballsy call" - Momentum growing for Iain Henderson as a Test Lion
Give the people what they want.
After an excellent Six Nations campaign, off the back of good form for province and country in 2020, the Ulster masses were expecting to see Iain Henderson in a lot of Lions XVs.
Instead, there has been a general mix of Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones, James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne as just about every rugby pundit and writer dips their toes in the Test selection puddle. Stephen Jones went left-field by selecting Adam Beard of Wales, but still no Henderson.
While former Saracens and Scotland lock believes the Ulster lock would be a good second row partner for Itoje, down in South Africa, he has not featuted in many of the Test conversations. All that is about to change, though!
On the latest House of Rugby Ireland episode [LISTEN from 16:30 below], Fergus McFadden and Eimear Considine spoke about Iain Henderson's Lions chances and what he would bring to a touring party.
Asked if he would have Iain Henderson in his British & Irish Lions squad, McFadden said he would. In terms of a Test jersey, though, it is not as simple.
"We were talking about Lions starters [before] and I'm not so sure he'll start. To be honest, he could. Depending on injuries and depending on the form he shows in the Challenge Cup.
"Ulster, you'd imagine, would get to the latter stages of the Challenge Cup. They're one of the best teams left in that competition. Iain Henderson has been playing some of his best rugby in years, but it's just such a competitive position.
"We were all agreeing and disagreeing on the different combinations in there, but Ulster fans should not feel we're being too biased or anything like that. We know all about Iain. From my perspective, I'm not so sure he'll start but I'd love if the guy travels because he's played some great rugby this season."
Over on The Rugby Pod, Hamilton selected Henderson in his Lions XV as both he and Andy Goode stuck their heads above the parapet.
"Iain Henderson, yeah," Hamilton began.
"And that's quite a ballsy call, but the work he gets through and the physicality he produces in every game, in how I think he can get on in South Africa, if he's fit, he's in."
The rest of Hamilton's Lions selection for that First Test against South Africa has similarly ballsy calls. There are four Irish players, four Scots, four from England and only three Welsh players.
JIM HAMILTON'S LIONS XV
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Liam Williams (Wales)
13. Chris Harris (Scotland)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
10. Owen Farrell (England)
9. Ali Price (Scotland)
1. Wyn Jones (Wales)
2. Jamie George (England)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Maro Itoje (England)
5. Iain Henderson (Ireland)
6. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
7. Hamish Watson (Scotland)
8. Toby Faletau (Wales)
That Lions XV only has six of the same players selected on House of Rugby Ireland by McFadden, Considine and Ian Madigan when the Six Nations wrapped up.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland will put all those selection debates to bed on May 6 when he announces his touring squad.