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'Henshaw is world's best inside-centre' | Matt Williams

Irish-centre Rob Henshaw has played an outstanding performance in the Lions test series so far. A...

'Henshaw is world's best insid...

'Henshaw is world's best inside-centre' | Matt Williams

Irish-centre Rob Henshaw has played an outstanding performance in the Lions test series so far. And his work has not gone unnoticed by some of the best in the business.

Speaking with Joe Molloy on OTB on Wednesday evening, rugby pundit Matt Williams was keen to keep the conversation on the pitch –  hailing Henshaw in particular for standing his own against a strong Springbok backline.

"Robbie Henshaw is probably one of the only back out of this series with his reputation enhanced. He’s been absolutely sensational. He’s one of the best if not the best inside centres in the world," says Williams.

"He's certainly bracketing up there with Gael Fickou," says Williams.

"Whoever the best is, he’s equalled them. He’s been great" Williams continued.

The Lions face an uphill battle after losing the second test match to South Africa 27-9 last Saturday.

The game was already in a mêlée however before it even started – after South African Rugby director Rassie Erasmus posted a damning 62-minute video slating the referee's decisions of the first test.

Stats don't lie

William's case for Henshaw is far from wayward. In the test series (including the warm-ups) so far, Henshaw has crunched 41 tackles out of 44 – that's a 93% success rate. On top of securing two tries, Henshaw has also assisted two more.

Concerning, metres gained for the Lions, the Athlone local has dug up 28 metres for his side. Be it attacking or defending, Henshaw has held his own out of position.

South Africa's Siya Kolisi attempts to hold off the tackle of British and Irish Lions' Robbie Henshaw during the first rugby union test between South Africa's Springboks and the British and Irish Lions at the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)

Gaps in Gatland's Game

William's appraisal for the inside-centre was not without an underlining level of cynicism of the Lions set-up however.

Despite winning the opening match in Cape Town, the Lions' performances have looked stagnant. Williams was quick to raise concern as to why no prolific thirteen was selected for the squad.

"They’re playing him [Henshaw] at thirteen because they didn’t select an original outside centre in their squad. How Gary Ringrose did not make this squad is still mind-boggling. And yet here we are, having to put one of the best inside centres in the world [in thirteen] because they don’t have anyone else" says Williams.

Lions squad named for Saturday

Warren Gatland did announce his squad for the upcoming and crucial match this Saturday on Tuesday. The starting XV sees six changes to the second-test – with Bundee Aki coming in at inside centre and Henshaw shifting to thirteen. Dan Biggar retains his spot at out-half.

Meanwhile, Rassie Erasmus will face disciplinary action by World Rugby for his comments.

Catch every moment of the British and Irish Lions series on Off The Ball, with live commentary from the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Keith Wood, Alan Quinlan and more throughout the test series.

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Gaël Fickou Henshaw Inside Centre Lions Lions Tour 2021 Matt Williams Rob Henshaw South Africa Warren Gatland