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Sunday 23 April 2017

Warrenball could be just the ticket for centre Henshaw

Ireland's Robbie Henshaw. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw. Photo: Sportsfile

Graham Henry chose to leave it until the eve of the announcement of the British & Irish Lions squad to describe the tour schedule to New Zealand as "suicidal".

The World Cup winning coach knows what he is talking about as the only man to lead The Lions and New Zealand.

"I just wonder if the itinerary is suicidal, that's my concern," said Henry yesterday.

The fact is the tourists will have to encounter serious tests from the Super Rugby franchises The Blues, The Crusaders, The Highlanders and The Chiefs as well as the Maori All Blacks before the first test on June 24.

"They (The Lions) are remembered by the Test match results," stated Henry.

"But, sides gain confidence and momentum through the games they play leading into those Test matches.

"If they don't get success in those games, confidence is not going to be high and that is going to affect the way they play in the Test matches."

In October 2015, Warren Gatland labelled the tour schedule as "crazy" before he was asked to go back-to-back from the 2-1 series win in Australia back in 2013.

Attitude

Of course, the New Zealander has had to change his tune since then in the lead-up to the squad announcement.

What he is unlikely to change is his attitude to the game and how best to play it.

There is heavyweight speculation in the British media that the dancing feet of Jonathan Joseph will be sacrificed in the name of 'Warrenball'.

This would open the door for Robbie Henshaw to move one out to thirteen in a one-on-one against Wales' Jonathan Davies, the man preferred to Brian O'Driscoll for the third test in Australia.

The reality of the schedule does not allow enough time to develop a highly skilled, multi-optional strategy.

Power is likely to persevere over panache.

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS TOUR SCHEDULE

June 3: NZ Barbarians v Lions.

June 7: Auckland Blues v Lions.

June 10: Canterbury Crusaders v Lions.

June 13: Otago Highlanders v Lions.

June 17: Maori All Blacks v Lions.

June 20: Waikato Chiefs v Lions.

June 24: First Test - New Zealand v Lions.

June 27: Wellington v Lions.

July 1: Second Test - New Zealand v Lions.

July 8: Third Test - New Zealand v Lions.

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