Connect with us

British & Irish Lions

Henderson feeling at home already after quickly finding Lions groove

Published

on

Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

But even the Irish lock has been surprised by just how quickly the players who travelled to New Zealand have found their groove again, making four years seem like a matter of days.

Henderson did not make an appearance in the Test team against the All Blacks but wore the famous red jersey on six occasions as he became a regular in the midweek side.

He will be looking to earn his first Test cap against Japan on Saturday and ahead of the much-anticipated fixture, Lion #808 believes the players have benefitted from a smoother build-up.

“I think everyone’s excitement was already building towards the end of the season and you could tell everyone was buzzing to meet up,” the 29-year-old said.

“The training over the last week didn’t disappoint, a lot of lads were chomping at the bit to get out there on the pitch. It was very tough but we got a lot out of it.

“The guys who were there (in New Zealand) four years ago have ‘re-gelled’ really quickly. We have a few different coaches now, but it is very similar.

“At this point on the last Tour, we would be coming together for two or three days, splitting up then coming back together. So it was quite disjointed and didn’t really feel like the Tour had started.

Player Profile: Iain Henderson

“Whereas this time around, on Sunday there was already a definite feel the Tour had started and the journey had begun. Last time 15 were there at the start, but it is around the mid-20s this time.

“A huge majority of the squad have been able to get on-board already, so it’ll be tough for the guys just coming in, but I have no doubt they will catch up quickly.

“I think having everyone here and spending time together, going for dinner, a few pints and getting to know each other is vital to making things click on-and-off the field, which is key to any Lions Tour.”

The Lions face the Brave Blossoms this Saturday, June 26, at BT Murrayfield in front of a crowd of 16,500 fans, in what will be a first home fixture for the team since 2005.

Their first game on South African soil is just seven days later, against Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.

Although the success of the class of 2021 won’t be defined in the game against Japan, Henderson insists the squad won’t underestimate the side, who beat both Ireland and Scotland at the last World Cup.

Henderson added: “Everyone is dying to get underway, but at this stage I think everyone is also aligned in their goals, we’re not fighting for the jersey at the minute, we’re working well together.

“For this first game, we know Japan are a huge threat. They have a different style to South Africa, but the level of intensity will be high and it will be a massive test for us.

Furlong: We’re not the finished article yet but it’s an open process

“If we forget about them we’ll find ourselves in a difficult place.”

The Ulster captain is more mature than during the last Tour. He skippered his country for the first time and impressed generally during the Six Nations, a campaign the Irish finished well, with wins over England, Scotland and Italy.

He also won his clubs’ Personality of the Year award, a sign of the positive influence he will have on the Lions group.

High spirits and positive attitudes in the camp will be more important than ever, with the absence of the usual hordes of travelling fans.

Yet Henderson doesn’t think it will affect the mentality of the team when the first Test rolls around.

“Most of us haven’t heard a crowd cheer for well over a year now. So we’re really looking forward to having fans in BT Murrayfield. It will be phenomenal,” the adaptable Irishman added.

“In South Africa it will be different, there is uncertainty about numbers allowed in, if any.

“So this Lions Tour will be different, but the guys who have played in Six Nations and with clubs this season, are well used to dealing with adverse conditions.

“I would hope that anyone who may be affected by this can put it behind them and bring their best rugby on the pitch. We’ve all played with no crowds and the weird atmosphere that brings, so we’ll all be used to it.

“Being here on the last Tour (in New Zealand) makes you a little less nervous, and you slip back in with the guys from then pretty quickly.

“You also know what it is like for a new player, so you can make them feel as welcome and as comfortable as possible, which hopefully helps us on the pitch.”

Source – British & Irish Lions

by Jack Lacey-Hatton

21 June 2021 17:54 Reading Time: 4 mins


British & Irish Lions

Tributes pour in for late Lions legend Doddie Weir

Published

on

Tributes have been paid to British & Irish Lion #670 and MND campaigner Doddie Weir who has died aged 52.

Weir was called up to the 1997 Lions squad to South Africa and although his tour was cut short due to a nasty injury sustained against Mpumalanga Province, he still described it as one of the greatest experiences of his career.

The second row played 61 times for Scotland, scoring four tries, including two against New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup quarter-final, making him the only Scottish player in history to score twice against the All Blacks.

He was a club legend at both Newcastle Falcons and Border Reivers, starring in the Falcons side that won the Premiership title in 1998.

In 2017, Weir was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, and became one of the most vocal and prominent campaigners in the world – setting up his charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which has raised more than £5 million since being launched.

Tributes have poured in to honour a true legend of the game both on the pitch and off it, with fellow British & Irish Lion and legendary commentator Brian Moore calling Weir an “outstanding man”.

Weir’s impact on Scottish rugby cannot be overstated and another of the nation’s rugby legends and a former teammate of Weir’s Scott Hastings called him “the most lovable man in the world”.

He has been such an inspiration since his diagnosis, raising both significant funds and also the profile of MND and that has led to him becoming a true national hero, with Scottish footballing icon Sir Kenny Dalglish praising him for his fight against the disease.

The news came during England’s match with South Africa at Twickenham, and when the announcement was made, the whole crowd rose to their feet for a round of applause to show their respects.

Former England captain Dylan Hartley and South African World Cup winner Bryan Habana spoke of Weir’s legacy both in and out of the sport.

Habana said: “He embodied everything the game stands for in terms of respect, charisma, spirit in which the game is played and the humour with which he embraced fellow teammates.

“What he brought to the game of rugby, he was a phenomenal player and what he has done in the last decade with a disease that would have seen a lot of people die a lot earlier, and how much money he has raised.

“Even with the struggles, to be able to walk two or three kilometres, just to be able to show to the world, the character he has.

“To his family, his loved ones, the deepest respect for someone who really lit up this world and made it a better place.”

The tributes kept pouring in, from presenter Gabby Logan – who last year appeared on TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire to raise money for the foundation, to cycling great Sir Chris Hoy.

Outside the world of sport, author and Scotland fan JK Rowling paid her respects, as did the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Leeds Rhinos great and Leicester Tigers assistant coach Kevin Sinfield, who recently completed seven back-to-back ultra marathons, starting at BT Murrayfield where Weir presented the match ball for Scotland v New Zealand, released a statement.

He said: “Today is a deeply sad day for everyone who knew Doddie but especially his family, who are at the forefront of our thoughts.

“Doddie was a giant as a player but his campaigning following his MND diagnosis made him a colossus.

“When Bryan Redpath first put me in touch with Doddie to speak to Rob Burrow following Rob’s own diagnosis, he immediately said yes without hesitation. The sight of 5’4” Rob and 6’6” Doddie was something that will live with all of us and probably bonded the duo with the great humour they shared.

“Doddie was able to give Rob the greatest gift of hope that night. He has been like a big brother to all of us since that day.

“I know, on behalf of the whole Ultra 7 in 7 team, it was our ultimate honour that Doddie was at Murrayfield just two weeks ago when we set off on our fundraising challenge.

“With his trademark smile, he insisted that he wanted to be there with his new pink trainers on! The fact that a proportion of the money raised from the Ultra 7 in 7 will go to the Foundation set up by Doddie has particular poignancy as we look to continue his legacy on in the years ahead.

“I am honoured to have been able to call Doddie my friend and I know his spirit lives on in all of us who knew him. He will always be a champion.”

Source – British & Irish Lions


Continue Reading

British & Irish Lions

Lions and Scotland great Doddie Weir dies aged 52

Published

on

Scotland and British & Irish Lions great Doddie Weir has passed away at the age of 52 after a long battle with motor neurone disease.

One of his country’s all-time greats, Weir won 61 caps for Scotland and was selected for the 1997 Lions Tour of South Africa.

His Tour was cut short by a serious knee injury suffered while playing against Mpumalanga Province, but despite returning home prior to the Tests – with the Lions beating the world champions 2-1, Weir singled out that experience as one of the best of his career.

Weir was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017, with his charity, the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation having raised more than £5 million pounds since being launched.

A statement from the Weir family said: “It is with great sadness that we announced the death of our beloved husband and father, Doddie.

“Doddie was an inspirational force of nature. His unending energy and drive, his strength of character powered him through his rugby and business careers and, we believe, enabled him to fight the effects of MND for so many years.

“Doddie put the same energy and even more love and fun into our lives together, he was a true family man. Whether working together on the farm, on holiday, or celebrating occasions with wider family and friends, Doddie was always in the thick of it. We are lucky to have shared our lives with him and we cherish all those memories: his love and warmth, his support and advice, his quick wit and his terrible jokes. It is difficult to put into words how much we will miss him.

“MND took so much from Doddie, but never his spirit and determination. He battled MND so bravely and whilst his own battle may be over, his fight continues through his foundation, until a cure is found for all those with this devastating disease.”

Weir made his Scotland debut in 1990 and was a mainstay of the side for much of the decade, making his final appearance in the 2000 Six Nations against France.

Instantly recognisable for his galloping gait, the great Bill McLaren once described Weir as “on the charge like a mad giraffe.”

As incredible as Weir’s exploits were during his career, what he has done since has arguably been even greater.

After being diagnosed with MND, Weir set up a foundation to raise funds for research into a cure for MND and to provide grants to people living with the condition.

And in the five years since, it has raised more than £5 million for that objective, and will continue to fund research into a cure.

All those at the British & Irish Lions offer their condolences to the Weir family.

Source – British & Irish Lions


Continue Reading

British & Irish Lions

Tributes pour in for Lion and rugby legend Eddie Butler

Published

on

Tributes have been paid to British & Irish Lion #601 and iconic broadcaster Eddie Butler, who has died aged 65.

Butler was called up to The British and Irish Lions squad that toured New Zealand in 1983, replacing Jeff Squire, and made one appearance.

The No.8 played 16 times for Wales and captained them on six occasions, scoring two tries.

He was a legend at his club side Pontypool, captaining the team between 1982 and 1985, and, after retiring from rugby, he carved out a remarkable career in journalism, broadcasting and commentary.

Tributes have already started pouring in to honour a great of the game, with World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont calling Butler one of the finest commentators of his time.

After beginning his journalism career with the Sunday Correspondent in 1988, Butler began writing for The Observer in 1991.

He joined BBC Wales in 1990, starting his commentary career alongside Bill McLaren before becoming the lead BBC rugby commentator.

His partnership with former Lions and England hooker Brian Moore received widespread acclaim and his commentary partner tweeted that he admired Butler as a broadcaster and as a man.

Butler’s montage-accompanying prose was the backdrop not only to sporting events but to some of the biggest news stories of the last two decades.

The final one he made marked the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

He commentated on Olympic sports, as well as the Invictus Games, and also put his voice to montages for the BBC’s NFL highlights programmes. He also published three novels and two non-fiction books.

Two-time Tour captain and fellow broadcaster Sam Warburton said: “Stunned at the news and passing of Eddie Butler. Thoughts with his family.

“What an amazing contribution to rugby and broadcasting. A privilege to have played and co-commentated with his voice.”

Scott Quinnell, who toured with the Lions in 1997 and 2001, said: “Absolutely devastated to hear the news. Eddie was such a wonderful man. Always loved our chats especially over a pint. Love and thoughts to Sue and the family.”

Source – British & Irish Lions


Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending