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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 5 July, 2020

'I would have Iain Henderson ahead of Maro Itoje:' Willie John McBride

The Lions legend was disappointed with the Lions scrum after the first Test against the All Blacks.

LIONS LEGEND WILLIE John McBride believes Iain Henderson should be in the British and Irish Lions match-day Test squad ahead of Maro Itoje.

Willie John McBride Willie John McBride pictured at Standard Life Investments' exclusive screening of the first British & Irish Lions Test match in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin on Saturday. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Itoje was named on the bench for the side’s first Test against the All Blacks this weekend, with many arguing he was unlucky to start ahead of Alun Wyn Jones in the second row.

The English lock was introduced shortly after half-time, and his performance earned him a 6/10 mark in the player ratings on this website.

Henderson impressed in the Lions’ 34-6 win over the Chiefs, but failed to get the nod for the Test 23-man squad on Saturday.

But Willie John McBride — who earned 17 Test match caps for the Lions — believes Itoje didn’t fully capitalise on his chance after coming on, and argues that Henderson has more to offer.

“Henderson is good in the scrum,” he told The42 at Standard Life Investments’ exclusive screening of the first British & Irish Lions Test match on Saturday.

“He will win ball when nobody else will win ball. And he’s strong, he will hold guys.

“I would have Henderson ahead of (Maro) Itoje because he’s hard. Itoje is skillful but he wasn’t really in the game after he came on.

“I think Henderson has played well all the way through (the tour so far).

Reflecting on the overall performance, McBride said he was disappointed with the Lions scrum and pointed to the number of penalties conceded as an area that needs to be addressed before the second Test next Saturday.

They also have a fixture against the Hurricanes to contend with during the week.

“I was disappointed more than anything in the scrum and the other thing I would say is that our angles are all wrong.

“When you take men on, you hit them low the way they (the All Blacks) were doing. Everything we do is too static and too dead. Their momentum was so much greater.”

“They’re going to have sit down and have a look at a lot of these things but they can’t really do a lot more than what they’re doing.

You can’t give away that many penalties in the game, because it takes you out of it. There were long periods of that game where we didn’t even have the ball.

“We’re not finishing off things. There were a number of times when we threatened and threatened inside their 25 but we’re not punishing enough.”

Remarking on the performances of Ireland’s other representatives in the Lions side, McBride said Conor Murray’s kicking “was superb” and praised Peter O’Mahony for his performance as captain.

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Willie John McBride was speaking at the Standard Life Investments exclusive screening of the first British & Irish Lions Test match in Fitzwilliam Square.

Standard Life Investments is Principal Partner and jersey sponsor of the 2017 tour to New Zealand. For further information please visit

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