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Henderson To Lead Lions Against Sharks

Henderson To Lead Lions Against Sharks

Ulster and Ireland's Iain Henderson is pictured during a training session with the Lions in Johannesburg ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Iain Henderson will captain the British & Irish Lions against the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg on Wednesday (kick-off 7pm local time/6pm Irish time).

The Ulster and Ireland lock is joined in the starting XV by Bundee Aki, while Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan and new tour captain Conor Murray are named on the bench.

Henderson is the latest Ulster man to captain the Lions, with his predecessor as Ulster skipper, Rory Best, having the honour against the Brumbies in 2013, and the Chiefs and the Hurricanes in 2017.

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“I’m incredibly excited and looking forward to it,” said Henderson, the two-time Lions tourist. The lads have been preparing really well for it.

“Off the back of the game at the weekend, we had a really good session this morning and we’re looking forward to another one this afternoon.

“We’ve got our heads together and got a good game-plan in place. Excitement is probably my overwhelming feeling.”

England flanker Tom Curry and Wales forwards Josh Navidi and Adam Beard, who were both injury call-ups for the tour, will make their Lions debuts as starters.

The game, which will be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports, is the second of eight tour matches in the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series which culminates with three Tests against South Africa.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland commented: “It’s a quick turnaround from Saturday, but we’ll be ready to go by Wednesday night.

“I’m pleased we managed to come through the weekend’s game (against the Sigma Lions) unscathed, and the boys have rested and recovered well.

We feel like we’re slowly building, but, as ever, there’s still room for improvement in all facets of our game. Wednesday night is another chance for us to have a look at a few more combinations.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the back row goes – it’s an exciting mixture and one that we hope will offer something a bit different.

“We expect another physical test against a side who are known for their power play and ambition. My congratulations to Tom, Josh and Adam ahead of their first starts in a Lions jersey.”

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS Team & Replacements (v Cell C Sharks, 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series – Tour Match, Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg, Wednesday, July 7, kick-off 7pm local time/6pm Irish time):

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets/Wales) #833
14. Anthony Watson (Bath/England) #816
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens/England) #822
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Ireland) #837
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors/Scotland) #841
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints/Wales) #821
9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets/Wales) #850
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England) #787
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs/England) #851
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland) #848
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Ireland) (capt) #808
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys/Wales)
6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby/Wales)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks/England)
8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs/England) #849


16. Ken Owens (Scarlets/Wales) #829
17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors/Scotland) #840
18. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Ireland) #818
19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Ireland) #838
20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Ireland) #839
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland) #790
22. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs/Scotland) #783
23. Chris Harris (Gloucester/Scotland) #844