This summer’s British and Irish Lions tour already seems likes a distant memory. All the focus is on the new domestic rugby season and especially the PRO14.
With the addition of the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs, there is a heightened level of intrigue and excitement in this season’s edition of the competition but today’s PRO14 launch offered a good opportunity to get the post-Lions tour thoughts of many players who starred for the Lions in New Zealand.
One of those was Iain Henderson, the towering 25-year-old was dotted out in his Ulster Rugby kit for today’s launch but it was just under two months ago that the softly spoken forward wore the famous red shirt against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Undoubtedly, the experience in New Zealand should be a benefit to himself, Ulster and Ireland. Surrounding yourself with some of the best players in the world will only have a positive effect on a player’s ability to learn, train and to perform to a higher standard.
With that, it was put to Henderson who he thought stood out the most from his Lions colleagues and without a moment’s hesitation…”Justin Tipuric.”
“Justin Tipuric was phenomenal. I think he is an incredible player and unfortunate not to get any Test match time. I think he was class, I got on really well with him too. I thought he was one of the lads who really stood out for me.
“I thought he was good player beforehand but being on the Lions and playing with him, I thought he really stood out for me, really impressed by him.”
When asked to go into a little more detail on what Tipuric brings to a side, it was his overall skill set which proved to be most advantageous.
“He’s really skilful, not just with ball in hand and his kicking ability is very good as well! I think he used to be a 10 when he was younger.
“He’s extremely skilful, he doesn’t look like a lineout forward but he’s very good in the lineout. He’s quite light, easy to get up and has really good hands. All round he’s just a really good footballer.”
Tipuric is often lauded for his defensive performances, up until the Hurricanes game on the Lions tour, he had a 100% tackle success rate, that was 59 tackles attempted, 59 tackles completed.
Other facets of his game often go under the radar but they weren’t lost on Henderson who clearly saw what the dynamic loose forward can bring to a team.
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