The Aki & Henshaw Bromance That Could Have Massive Lions Test Match Implications
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The British and Irish Lions have been in camp now for nearly two weeks as they get set to take on Japan in Murrayfield this weekend before flying out to South Africa.
Some players are there since the beginning, some arrived at the beginning of the week and the remaining few who are still with their clubs will link up with the squad after the weekend.
Two men who have been there since the beginning are Ireland centres Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw who have been named in midfield together this weekend in a partnership that could very well go all the way to the Test series.
The pair know each other very well having played alongside each other at Connacht and Ireland already as they get set to do it on the grandest stage of them all with the Lions. In 2017 we had Haskell and O’Brien, in 2021 it’s going to be Aki and Henshaw.
“Any time one of them walks through the door, you can be sure the other isn’t far behind,” Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray said of Aki and Henshaw when asked about any budding bromances in the squad so far.
Aki was a surprise inclusion in the squad when it was named back in May. He didn’t appear in any predicted squads or Test XVs but Gatland and his team clearly saw something in him – leaving out the likes of Jonathan Davies, Garry Ringrose and Manu Tuilagi to make room for the Connacht man.
Gregor Townsend will be in charge of the Lions backs and attack plans and if his comments are anything to go by – Aki could surprise us all again and end up in the Test XV alongside Henshaw, who is a shoo-in, no question.
And the bromance certainly helps.
“It’s great to get to know them, they’re obviously very good buddies so we felt that was important this week to pair them in the starting XV,” Townsend said.
“Any cohesion we could get, the players that have been training here the longest, those that maybe have played together, that came into our (selection) thoughts.
“Robbie had such a good season, he’s such an all-round player and we’ve seen that on the training field so far.
“Today we put up a high ball, it got stuck in the wind and then he springs from nowhere and wins the ball back. He showed really good hustle in defence.
“And Bundee, I really rate Bundee because in those Connacht-Glasgow games over the years he was a pain in the backside for us; a really strong carrier of the ball but an ability to step, a very good defender and he’s shown over the last few weeks. I’m sure all of the Irish guys would have known this already but he’s got a very good passing ability. He can square up defenders.
“So yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing them play. They give us gain line too. They’re both big guys but they’ll give us more than that.”