Iain Henderson was looking at the mobile phone of a teammate on the Ulster team collective when he found out he was one of the Britis & Irish Lions by Warren Gatland on the South African tour.
The 29-year-old He was heading to Limerick for the Rainbow Cup game on Friday at night with Munster at Thomond Park when he learned of his inclusion in the 37-man squad. “It was a very different but definitely enjoyable experience,” Henderson said. “Actually, I was on the bus from Belfast to Limerick when I found out.
“We were watching it on Andy Warwick’s phone, checking all the players and you’re trying to think … I got to Tadgh Furlong and I’m thinking flip, what letter comes after the F?
“The G came in and I’m thinking, is G before or after H? My head was spinning, but it was very exciting and obviously great news when I was with all the guys on the bus. I am absolutely happy. This theme was playing in my mind for a while and I am grateful for the opportunity to go on tour again and I am looking forward to the moment. “
Henderson is the only Ulster player on Gatland’s roster and admitted some surprise at the exclusion from the roster of players Johnny Sexton and James Ryan, his teammates in Ireland. Eight Clover players are part of the team that will tour South Africa: Henderson, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter, Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw and Conor Murray.
While Henderson participated six times in the 2017 Lions tour of New Zealand, the Ulster forward was unable to enter the field of play in any of the 3 games against the All Blacks.
When asked if he hopes to win a game against South Africa in July and August, he said: “The plan was to be a test driver last time, but obviously it didn’t turn out as expected. They will try different combinations and they will start to play against different teams at different times of the week, there you will start to have an idea of where you are standing ”, concluded the player.