Robbie Henshaw is excited to start alongside ‘top class’ Elliot Daly in the British and Irish Lions’ first test against the Springboks.
Ireland centre Henshaw has been selected to start at inside centre against South Africa on Saturday, while England’s Daly will occupy the outside centre channel at Cape Town Stadium.
The pair have limited experience with one another, as both men formed a starting centre combination for the first time against the Stormers last Saturday, but Henshaw is confident that they can form a successful partnership.
Henshaw was speaking at a press conference ahead of the first test against the Springboks and expressed full confidence in Daly’s abilities.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 23, 2021
‘His game knowledge and attacking skill-set are second to none.’
“It’s a really exciting partnership with Elliot. His game knowledge and his attacking skill-set is second to none in the game. He’s a top class player,” Henshaw explained.
“His defensive reads are also quality. I’ve only played with him twice or three times throughout the last couple of tours so it’s great to be partnered up with him and he’s a quality player.”
The pair both toured New Zealand with the Lions in 2017, although they didn’t get the opportunity to form a centre partnership on that occasion as Daly was primarily used on the wing and at fullback.
However, Henshaw and Daly are well used to one another, as the two shared a room during the Lions tour of New Zealand four years ago.
“We did room together in 2017 and we played [together] a bit. I think he played mostly at 15 but I think I did play a bit at 12 when he was at 13.
“We do have a bit of craic off the pitch as well and he’s a great lad so it’s building nicely.”
Robbie Henshaw’s and Elliot Daly’s time on tour.
Henshaw was the favourite to start in the centres for the Lions before this year’s tour even began, after playing remarkably well all season for both Leinster and Connacht.
The Irishman’s hamstring injury which ruled him out of four games on tour did threaten to derail his goal of starting for the Lions, but he has managed to recover in time for the first test against the Springboks.
Not many would have predicted that Daly would have started at outside centre in the Lions’ first test before the tour began, as the 28-year-old has been used primarily as a fullback for England.
However, Gatland has clearly intended on using Daly as a centre from the beginning of the tour and has secured his place in the starting test teams with a number of classy performances in South Africa.