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Lions midfielder Henshaw stays on his toes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago Angelo Risso

Realistically, Robbie Henshaw knows he won't be pulling on the British and Irish Lions jumper against the All Blacks on Saturday.

But in rugby, as in life, you have to stay on your toes - from training ground injuries to off-field incidents to first-Test clangers, anything can happen.

So the Irish second-five is keeping the faith as he gears up to play from the first minute against the Chiefs on Tuesday night.

The 24-year-old Henshaw lines up in the midfield for his third Lions appearance in New Zealand, paired with Kiwi-born compatriot Jared Payne.

Having played just two mid-week matches for the Lions so far, and with three different first-fives inside him, it's hard to say the 29-cap Henshaw has had a fair crack at a Test jumper - although he was doing his best to keep optimistic.

An opportunity to play in the second or third Tests may well arise - or even the first Test, should something unexpected happen this week.

"I know it's four days out from a Test game - you know, you have to look at it realistically, (but) still there's an opportunity for me there," Henshaw said.

"It's a chance for everyone to put their hand up.

"It's been done before on previous tours, people have played on the Tuesday and then been involved in the Tests on the weekend, you can't bank on anything.

"There's a lot to go - it's going to be a long tour."

The Leinster ace was chuffed to find Payne outside him for Tuesday night, with the pair combining well in Ireland's win over the All Blacks last November.

In a much-changed matchday squad - given the inclusion of six new Lions from the Welsh and Scottish camps - a fluent performance would be key against the Chiefs' inexperienced side, stripped of their All Blacks.

Johnny Fa'auli and Tim Nanai-Williams will oppose the Irish midfield pair.

"We're going to have our hands full in the midfield, myself and Jared - we'll have to stay on top of our work and be on our toes," Henshaw said.

"Any chance I get, I'm going to take it - Tuesday or Saturday, it doesn't make a difference and I'm just privileged to be involved here."

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