Places up for grabs in Wellington as Lions strive to save tour

British and Irish Lions' CJ Stander is tackled during the tour match at the Westpac Stadium, Wellington. Picture: David Davies/PA
British and Irish Lions' CJ Stander is tackled during the tour match at the Westpac Stadium, Wellington. Picture: David Davies/PA
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British and Irish Lions lock Iain Henderson believes his performance against the Hurricanes was “probably overshadowed by the silliness of a yellow card.”

The Hurricanes scored two converted late tries at Westpac Stadium, with the Lions down to 14 men following Henderson’s sin-binning for a dangerous clear-out of Hurricanes full-back Jordie Barrett at a ruck.

The match ended in a 31-31 draw as the Lions’ midweek schedule came to an end, with all attention now switching to Saturday’s second Test against world champions New Zealand in Wellington.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland is not due to name his Test team until tomorrow but Ireland international Henderson’s quality against the Hurricanes could put him firmly in the selection mix.

“It was definitely an enjoyable game to play in – for the 70 minutes I played,” Henderson said.

“It (yellow card) was frustrating, stupid. Probably a bit of mis-timed rucking, I would describe it as.

British and Irish Lions' Iain Henderson is tackled by Hurricanes Brad Shields. Picture: David Davies/PA.

British and Irish Lions' Iain Henderson is tackled by Hurricanes Brad Shields. Picture: David Davies/PA.

“It was definitely hard for me sitting there for those 10 minutes and watching.”

Asked about his Test squad credentials, Henderson – capped 32 times for Ireland – added: “Look, it’s Tuesday of a Test week.

“There are places not necessarily up for grabs, but we are definitely trying to put our hand up, even if it is for the last (third) Test.

“You are always trying to put on your best performance.

There are places not necessarily up for grabs, but we are definitely trying to put our hand up, even if it is for the last (third) Test.

“But it is out of our hands. We don’t make the decisions, we just have to be able to put on a performance to try and help the coaches make their decisions. It is up to them now.

“I was lucky with a few bounces of the ball and stuff. I got a bit of ball in hand, but it was probably overshadowed by the silliness of the yellow card.

“There are definitely a lot of positives taken from the game. We will take away a lot from our attacking performance.

“There is always enough left (in the tank) for a couple more games.

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland. Picture: David Davies/PA

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland. Picture: David Davies/PA

“It (Lions tour) has been enjoyable for me. I feel my performances have increased. I have definitely really enjoyed it.

“It would be ideal to be in the Test squad. As soon as we hear the Test team on Thursday, we will knuckle down and help the boys.

“For a lot of the boys out there today, it will probably be the last time they pull on a Lions jersey, this tour, or in their careers. For me, it was about taking it in, and I can’t fault the fans – they were fantastic.

“I was shattered and definitely frustrated at the yellow card, but I enjoyed the experience. There were patches of the game we played really well in.”

Gatland, meanwhile, insisted he “couldn’t give a toss” about the New Zealand Herald mocking him up as a cartoon clown.

He laughed off New Zealand’s daily paper publishing a second clown caricature of him in six months. Gatland admitted he was nonplussed by All Blacks boss Steve Hansen calling a radio station to object to the Lions boss criticising New Zealand’s “dangerous” targeting of scrum-half Conor Murray.

“I haven’t read anything of Steve Hansen’s quotes,” said Gatland, when quizzed on the clown cartoon. “The only thing I heard was that he had rung up a radio station. “I thought that was quite unusual for an international coach.

“But I’m not worried about that, or what any newspaper draws me up as. I just hope it was a happy clown!

“As a Kiwi, you’d like to think you’d come home and it be more positive from one or two members of the media.

“That hasn’t happened. But you can’t let that get to you.

“There’s been a significant campaign against me personally. But that’s water off a duck’s back.

“I’ve just got to concentrate on doing my job and not worry about any specific individuals. I couldn’t give a toss if that’s happening.”

On the match, Gatland pointed to Henderson’s yellow card to explain the Lions’ inability to win the match when leading 31-17 with 14 minutes left.

“The penalties we gave away were a bit soft and they allowed them back into it,” he said.

“We felt like we played some good rugby, but that yellow card was a penalty to us and it ends up being a penalty reversed.

“We had Henderson off the field for 10 minutes and conceded 14 points. To me that’s the game in a nut shell.”

Hurricanes: J Barrett, N Milner-Skudder, V Aso, N Laumape, J Savea, O Black, T Toiroa-Tahuriorangi, B May, R Ricitelli, J To’omaga-Allen, M Abbott, S Lousi, V Fifita, C Gibbins, B Shields. Replacements: L Apisai, C Eves, M Kainga, J Blackwell, R Prinsep, K Hauiti-Parapara, W Goosen, C Jane.

British & Irish Lions: J Nowell (Engd); T Seymour (Sco); J Joseph (Eng), R Henshaw (Ireland); G North (Wal); D Biggar (Wales); G Laidlaw (Sco); J Marler (Eng), R Best (Ire), D Cole (Eng), I Henderson (Ire), C Lawes (Eng), J Haskell (Eng), J Tipuric (Wal), CJ Stander (Ire). Replacements: K Dacey (Wal), A Dell (Sco), T Francis (Wal), C Hill (Wal), G Kruis (Eng), G Davies (Wal), F Russell (Sco), L Halfpenny (Wal).

Referee: R Poite (France).