The threat to Jones' Lions Test spot that's being backed by Will Greenwood
The former England centre provided a player-by-player guide to Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad recently in The Telegraph, and while he did not necessarily talk down the Welshman’s chances of making the starting XV, he suggested that there is stiff competition from Ireland second row Iain Henderson.
Greenwood wrote “Henderson is in my starting Test XV at the moment,” adding that the Ulster captain “never has a bad game.”
Henderson had a standout Guinness Six Nations alongside fellow tourist Tadhg Beirne, ruling the skies in a pack coached by former Lions captain Paul O’Connell.
Jones could end up partnering Henderson in the second row against the Springboks, but Maro Itoje is a player that shone in the 2017 series against the All Blacks under Gatland and though he was not firing on all cylinders for England this year, he is likely to start if he is playing at his usual high level.
It is not just the Irishman’s strength at the lineout that has caught Greenwood’s eye, rather he has praised him for his ball-handling, comparing him to fellow 1997 tourist Jeremy Davidson.
“He reminds me a lot of Jeremy Davidson from 1997– a huge, Irish lump who is massively effective– because he’s not just a huge lump,” the 2003 World Cup winner wrote.
“He is a clever rugby player who is top-quality in the lineout and a great ball-handler.”
Henderson is accustomed to playing at blindside flanker, as is Itoje, which means Jones could well pack down alongside both of them in the first Test. Nevertheless, this is an indication that no one is guaranteed a starting berth against the Springboks, and even the squad captain faces stiff competition throughout.
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