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Henshaw named on Lions squad for New Zealand tour

Story by Kieran Galvin

Wednesday, 19th April, 2017 12:43pm

Henshaw named on Lions squad for New Zealand tour

Robbie Henshaw in action for Ireland against New Zealand in Chicago last year. Henshaw has been named on the Lions squad to tour New Zealand. Picture: Sportsfile.

Robbie Henshaw has been selected on the British & Irish Lions squad which will tour New Zealand this summer.

The Athlone man is part of a 41-man squad named by head coach Warren Gatland in London today.

Henshaw is one of 11 Irish players who have made the cut for the squad.

The 23-year-old is the first player from the midlands region to be selected on a Lions squad. It is another milestone in Henshaw's rugby career, and it's also a major honour for Buccaneers RFC in Athlone where Robbie first learned the skills of the game.

Henshaw's selection comes during a very important week in the season - with Leinster preparing to face Clermont Auvergne in the European Champions Cup semi-final in Lyon this Sunday (3pm). This will be Henshaw's biggest game to date in his debut season with Leinster, having made the difficult decision to leave Connacht last season.

Ironically, Henshaw's last match with Connacht was against Leinster in the PRO12 final last year when the Coosan native helped the western province claim a famous victory in Edinburgh.

Last November, Henshaw scored a famous try against New Zealand in Chicago which helped Ireland to claim their first ever win over the All Blacks. Now he'll be hoping to feature for the Lions against World Cup holders New Zealand in this summer's hugely anticipated series.

At the age of 19, Henshaw made his Ireland senior debut against the United States in 2013. Just over a year previously, Henshaw had captained Marist College, Athlone to Connacht Senior Schools Cup success and he has made a meteoric rise in the sport since.

To be selected on a Lions Test starting XV is the highest representative honour available to players from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

While Henshaw will naturally face very stiff competition for a place on the Test starting team, his versatility - he can be play in the either of the centre positions or at full-back - should count in his favour.

A son of Tony and Audrey Henshaw, Robbie is a real sporting hero in the Athlone area and he regularly pays visits to the Buccaneers club and his former school, Marist College.

Robbie's uncle played David played for Buccaneers and Connacht, and the Henshaw family is also well known locally for their musical talents, in addition to their sporting prowess.

Robbie was also a promising Gaelic footballer during his teenage years. Having first played with Garrycastle GAA club, Robbie later transferred to Athlone and represented the club at senior level. He played on the Westmeath minor football team for two years. A real sporting all-rounder, Robbie also played soccer as a youngster with St Francis FC in Athlone.

The key dates in the 2017 Lions tour will be the three Tests against the All Blacks, the first of which is on June 24 at Eden Park, Auckland.

The Westpac Stadium in Wellington will host the second Test on July 1, with the two teams meeting again in the concluding Test on July 8.

The first match in the tour will be against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on June 3. The Lions will also face the following New Zealand Super XV teams: Blues, Crusaders, Highlanders, Chiefs and Hurricanes.

In 2013, the Lions (also coached by Gatland) achieved a 2-1 series win over Australia. Sam Warburton, who captained the Lions to that series victory, has again been named captain of this year's Lions squad.

In total, there are 16 players from 2017 Six Nations champions England in the squad, but English captain Dylan Hartley is among those who miss out. There are 12 Welsh players included but only two from Scotland, who defeated both Ireland and Wales in this year's Six Nations championship.

The last time the Lions toured New Zealand was in 2005 when Clive Woodward's side lost all three Tests against the All Blacks.

The fact that Gatland is originally from New Zealand adds another intriguing factor to this summer's tour.


Backs: Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te’o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England).

Forwards: Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Peter O’Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Billy Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales, captain).


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