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Lions Tour: Iain Henderson’s Test hopes down to the wire as Ulster skipper left out for second match


Iain Henderson has once again been left out of the Lions squad for the second Test. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Iain Henderson has once again been left out of the Lions squad for the second Test. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Iain Henderson has once again been left out of the Lions squad for the second Test. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Iain Henderson’s hopes of becoming a Test Lion are down to the final game against South Africa as the Ulster captain has been left out of the squad for the second match.

There is once again no place for the lock, with series skipper Alyn Wyn Jones’ partnership with England’s Maro Itoje given another run-out as expected and Tadhg Beirne providing cover from the bench with Courtney Lawes keeping his place in the back row.

Henderson, who was also denied Test minutes in 2017, will now hope to be given an opportunity in the final Test on Saturday week.

There is, however, a start this weekend for Conor Murray in one of three changes to the team made by Warren Gatland.

The Ireland scrum-half had to make do with a place on the bench for last week's win over the Springboks, but having impressed late on, Murray is now preferred to Ali Price, who is among the replacements.

Ireland have four starters with Murray joining Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong and Jack Conan in the XV, while Beirne on the bench.

Bundee Aki has missed out on selection again, despite Gatland reshuffling his midfield, with Chris Harris getting the nod to start alongside Henshaw, as Elliot Daly drops to the bench.

The only change in the pack sees Make Vunipola start ahead of Rory Sutherland, as Gatland opts for the experience of the English loosehead.

Otherwise, it's as you were. Vunipola will pack down alongside compatriot Luke Cowan-Dickie and Furlong.

Despite Welsh calls for Taulupe Faletau to start ahead of Conan, the Leinster man retains his place, with Faletau promoted to the bench at the expense of Hamish Watson.

Murray will partner Dan Biggar at half-back, should the Welsh out-half come through his return-to-play protocols this week.

Henshaw is joined by Harris in midfield, with Gatland keeping faith in the same back-three, as Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson and Duhan van der Merwe again link up.

Ken Owens, Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Beirne and Faletau will provide forward cover, with Price, Owen Farrell and Daly doing the same for the backs.

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“As always, selection was incredibly tough,” said Gatland. “However, we’ve made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend’s game.

“It’ll be another tight contest. We know the Springboks will be hurting and they’ll throw everything at us on Saturday, but I think there’s plenty more to come from us too. We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve.

“It’s the biggest game on the Tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it. As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in. We’re relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a Series win.”

The Springboks will name their team for Saturday's second Test at 12.30 on Tuesday.

Lions team to play South Africa on Saturday

S Hogg; A Watson, C Harris, R Henshaw, D van der Merwe; D Biggar, C Murray; M Vunipola, L Cowan-Dickie, T Furlong; M Itoje, A W Jones (capt); C Lawes, T Curry, J Conan. Reps: K Owens, R Sutherland, K Sinckler, T Beirne, T Faletau, A Price, O Farrell, E Daly.

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