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Shane Horgan identifies the Irish Lions most likely to start against the Springboks

Shane Horgan Lions

‘I don’t think any of them are nailed on.’

Shane Horgan believes Tadhg Furlong and Robbie Henshaw are the two Irish players best placed to start for the British and Irish Lions in the first test against the Springboks.

All seven Irish Lions tourists will start against Japan in their first game this summer, in what should prove to be an excellent opportunity for them to prove themselves to head coach Warren Gatland.

2005 Lions tourist Horgan was speaking to Virgin Media ahead of Saturday’s game against Japan and identified the Leinster duo as the two most highly rated Irish players in the squad.

Shane Horgan on Tadhg Furlong and Robbie Henshaw.

“There’s not a whole lot of Irish in the squad but there’s a good few in this time around against Japan and that’s good to see,” Horgan said.

“I think it’s an opportunity for those players and I see that Tadhg [Furlong] has come in – he was on the bench but he’s starting now.

“I think he’s our most likely starter in the test. I think behind him, [Robbie] Henshaw probably. But after that, I think all the players have an opportunity to start in a test.

“But I don’t think any of them are nailed on so the ones that are starting [against Japan] will be afforded the opportunity to do something special.”

Shane Horgan on the importance of the warm-up games.

While Horgan believes those playing won’t be able to lock down a starting place in the Lions team against the Springboks, he did stress how crucial the warm-up games can be.

The former Ireland and Leinster winger toured New Zealand with the Lions in 2005 and is well aware of the significance of the games leading up to the test series.

“You can’t necessarily win your way into a starting test slot in this game but you could potentially take yourself out of the reckoning,” Horgan explained.

“When you’re on the tour you don’t really see these as trial games. We had a very similar game against Argentina in Cardiff before we left for New Zealand in 2005.

“I can assure you, I didn’t see it as a trial game and I didn’t see any of the games on tour as trial games either.

“Yes, they are in effect putting yourself in the shop window to try to get a starting spot in the test team. But if there’s any over-focus on a test starting spot – you won’t be in that test team.”

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