Iain Henderson slams Warren Gatland for selection tactics during Lions' tour of South Africa

Iain Henderson was part of the Lions squad for the tour of South Africa
Iain Henderson was part of the Lions squad for the tour of South Africa

Ireland international Iain Henderson has questioned the selection policy employed by Warren Gatland during the British and Irish Lions' recent tour of South Africa.

Henderson led the Lions to a 54-7 win over Cell C Sharks in the tour game but was not involved in any of the three Tests against the Springboks which they went on to lose 2-1.

"You could play South Africa's game-plan against the Sharks or someone like that and whenever you get however many points up, you're winning the 50-50s, the slap-downs become a 50m try and all of a sudden people go 'well they're playing free-flowing rugby today'," Henderson said.

"Before you know it, you're trying to beat South Africa at their own game. South Africa just won a World Cup doing their own game. They're incredible at it.

"Falling into what they're incredibly good at I think is something a team probably shouldn't try to do playing a team like that."

Speaking to his former Ireland teammates Rory Best and Tommy Bowe on the BBC, the Ulster captain accused Gatland of giving preference to familiarity over form.

"I would tend to agree with that statement," he said.

"Courtney Lawes, for example, hadn't played a lot of rugby, was injured going in, missed a lot of rugby, comes in and starts all three tests.

"Don't get me wrong, Courtney is a class player and he probably deserved to be playing, but that would lead you to believe that he (Gatland) wasn't picking on who was on form at the stage, because Courtney had already banked his form from before.

"He Gatland told me I had trained really well, played really well and unfortunately it just didn't work out the way I wanted it to be.

"I wouldn't be one to go nagging coaches. In my opinion, I go about my business and do what I can on the training pitch.

"I kind of feel among a lot of the staff and squad they felt similarly, but at the end of the day it's the top dog's decision and I wasn't there."