British & Irish Lion Iain Balshaw intends to learn from his experience four
ars ago and enjoy this summer’s tour of New Zealand.
Balshaw left for Australia as the great white hope of the 2001 Lions
squad after bursting onto the Test scene with England during the Six
But he returned home two months later stripped of all confidence and a
shadow of the attacking force which had caused such destruction to the
unsuspecting defences of Italy, Scotland and France.
To compound his misery, Balshaw’s hopes of proving he was not an
enigma were wrecked by a series of serious injuries.
He did not score another England try for over two years as Jason
Robinson, who thrived on the last Lions tour, and Josh Lewsey overtook
him in the pecking order.
Sir Clive Woodward always retained faith in his game-breaking abilities,
though. Balshaw went to the World Cup, was a used replacement in the
final and has now been selected for a second Lions tour.
Since the 2001 Lions tour Balshaw has undergone surgery on his ankle
and both shoulders and has started just 10 Test matches for England,
four of them at the World Cup.
After spending most of the post-World Cup season out injured Balshaw
left Bath for Leeds, seeking a fresh start and a new challenge at
He overcame an early groin problem and his form at the Tykes this
season has been impressive. He is now captain and raring to put right
the wrongs of 2001.
"Last time, I was very frustrated with the way I was playing," he said.
"I can’t really pinpoint what went wrong. Things were not going right for
me. I probably forced things, tried too hard.
"This time, when I am selected to play, I will give my all and enjoy
myself. If things go right, great and if they don’t it’s just one of those
things. The Lions is about enjoying yourself.
"I thought I only had a small chance of going because I haven’t played
much international rugby this season, but I did alright and I’m absolutely
"My main priority at the beginning of the season was to get fit and start
playing well for Leeds, and I did that and I was fortunate enough to get
called up to England with Jason Robinson being injured.
"That was a chance that I had to take and it’s all followed on from there