FROM shock selection in the initial 37-man squad to genuine Test match contender, it is fair to say that Chris Harris has had a good Lions tour so far.

And while the hamstring injury which has kept Robbie Henshaw out of action since the tourists touched down in South Africa just over two weeks ago has undoubtedly helped boost the Scottish centre’s chances of wearing the No13 jersey against the Springboks when the real bullets start flying, a far more significant factor has been the player’s own no-nonsense approach to making the absolute most of everything he has to offer. 

Irishman Henshaw should be back to play for the Lions on Saturday and if he can get through that game in one piece then he remains the most likely option at outside centre against the world champions on 24th July, while Elliot Daly’s versatility, pace and kicking game will keep him in the frame regardless of the defensive frailties which continue to shadow the Englishman.  

However, head coach Warren Gatland made it clear during yesterday’s team announcement that Harris is very much a live option for the Test side, praising the way the 30-year-old adapted to playing inside rather than outside centre against the Sharks on Saturday evening.  

“I thought he did well,” said the New Zealander. “He hasn’t played a huge amount at 12 but he scored a nice try and backed it up with defending strongly and carrying well. The good thing about his game is he has been pretty much error-free so he’s definitely putting his hand up.  

“For those three midfielders [Harris, Daly and Bundee Aki], it’s been a little bit of a challenge because with Robbie having that hamstring they’ve had to play and then be prepared to either back up the following game or sit on the bench. They’ve been brilliant and I think Chris has done really well so far.” 

Harris is one of only three Lions players who started against the Sharks on Saturday to retain their place in the side for tomorrow evening’s midweek clash against South Africa ‘A’ in Cape Town – alongside Dan Biggar at stand-off and Anthony Watson switching from wing to full-back – but he says he isn’t going to read too much into what that might say about his prospects of making the Test team. 

“I never really over analyse it,” he explained. “At the end of the day, the way I look at it is that I’ve been given an opportunity and if you get caught worrying about ‘what does this mean’ or ‘what does that mean’ or ‘what’s the Test team going to be’ then it’s only going to hinder your performance. 

“You’ve been given an opportunity and you’ve got to do your best on the field for however long you play. All that other stuff will look after itself. As long as you can come off the field and say: ‘Right, I was proud of that performance, I’m happy with that’ … then that’s all you can do.” 

The selection of 18 World Cup winners in the Springbok ‘A’ squad for tomorrow night’s match has upped the stakes and, as much as Harris insists that he doesn’t waste time worrying about what the coaches might be thinking, there is no escaping the fact that a strong performance in the Lions toughest game of the tour so far will be a big boost to his claim for a Test team slot. 

“I was delighted to see that they’ve gone really strong,” agreed Harris. “It’s not a Test match but it is a test! It’s going to be a challenge for us but that’s only going to be a good thing.  

“We’re going to be playing against some world class players. The defence is going to be much better than what we’ve faced, and the same with the attack side, so I’m really looking forward to it.”