Australia v Lions: Team of the Series

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15. Leigh Halfpenny
A no-brainer. Halfpenny’s kicking won the first test for the Lions and it was his brilliance that set-up the two second-half tries in the final test that saw the Lions stretch clear of Australia. A more than deserved man of the series.

14. Israel Folau
Folau had a quiet second and third tests, but announced himself to the world with a brace in the first. It included a mazy, beautifully-balanced run to the tyline that bamboozled Johnny Sexton and Alex Corbisiero. A world-class finisher.

13. Jonathan Davies
He didn’t have a great time of things at 12 in the first two tests, but once he shifted to his preferred outside centre spot he comprehensively outplayed opposite man Adam Ashley-Cooper, who nonetheless had a decent series. Davies’ performance was made all the better by the pressure on him after the furore surrounding his replacing BOD.

12. Christian Leali’ifano
We will never know how the series might have unfolded had he stayed on the pitch and kicked his goals in the first test – best not to think about it really. Still, he looked completely at home in the test match arena, and unless you knew otherwise you would have sworn he’d been playing at this level for years.

11. George North
Like Folau he was quieter in the second two tests, but unlike Folau he still managed to cross the line. The series’ joint top try scorer, his effort in the first test will go down in history as one of the great Lions tries.

10. Johnny Sexton
Like so many others, he had a quietly efficient series until the final test, when he sprung into life. Orchestrated a back-line that blew the Australians away in the second half of that game. Playing opposite a man clearly uncomfortable with his position helped him.

9. Will Genia
All the Lions’ fears about this man were confirmed within the first ten minutes of the test series, as he took a quick tap and ripped their (albeit weak) defence to shreds. He was the architect of most of the excellent things they did – there is no one in his league in world rugby currently.

1. Alex Corbisiero
The difference in the scrums when he played and didn’t was beyond stark, and that can’t all be down to the referee. His technique is excellent and along with Adam Jones formed a unit that was way too good for the Aussies. Also got his hands on the ball a surprising amount in the third test.

2. Tom Youngs
This was a borderline call, as Stephen Moore was excellent for Australia. Youngs, however, put in one of the performances of his (admittedly short) career in Brisbane in the first test. The line-out went well and he was everywhere, carrying ball over the gain-line and smashing attackers back. Sublime stuff.

3. Adam Jones
Completing, unsurprisingly, an all-Lions front row is the shaggy haired Welshman who joined Corbisiero in giving the Australian front-row nightmares. A prop’s job is, first and foremost, to scrummage – in that regard there are few, if any, better than Jones.

4. Alun-Wyn Jones
This giant lock must have been up there in the man-of-the-series stakes as well. There are few who show their passion quite so obviously, and it was almost poetic that it was he who got to lead the Lions to a series victory. His ball-carrying was destructive and work-rate never-ending.

5. Geoff Parling
James Horwill came close to this spot, but lost out for some strange decision making at crucial times. Parling stepped into the great O’Connell’s shoes with aplomb, putting himself about the park with endless enthusiasm. And that tap-tackle on Jesse Mogg will live long in the memory.

6. Ben Mowen
Another Australian debutant that makes this team. Mowen was abrasive and physically imposing throughout the series, giving Mike Phillips a particularly torrid time. He was also a vital source of line-out ball and a nuisance on the Lions’ throw.

7. Sam Warburton
Michael Hooper can count himself unlucky, but Warburton’s second test performance gets him into this team. When the Lions needed him most, with O’Connell down and out, he stood up and so nearly led them to the series victory. Unlucky to be ruled out with injury for the final test, he will nevertheless go down in history as a winning Lions captain.

8. Toby Faletau
This is perhaps the position with no outstanding candidate. Wycliff Palu played all three tests but did little to distinguish himself, while Jamie Heaslip struggled through two. Faletau comprised part of an excellent back-row unit in the final test, and carried more ball than anyone on the pitch. For that reason, despite only playing one test, he makes the team.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

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19 comments on “Australia v Lions: Team of the Series

  1. Agree with almost all of it.

    Would have AAC over Davies. It was a three test series, where AAC was good in the first, brilliant in the second but went missing in the first. Davies struggled in the first two tests, being very poor in the second, but was fantastic in the third. I would AAC down as marginally edging the 13 over the whole series – though best performance in a test 13 shirt would be Davies 3rd test edging AAC 2nd test marginally.

    As you mentioned, Horwill and Moore are unlucky to appear, particularly Moore. Youngs was phenomenal in the 1st test, but over the course of the whole series I thought Moore was very good.

  2. Agreed about Moore. I thought in a pack and especially a front row under a lot of pressure he was outstanding. His lineout throwing was excellent, his carrying pretty ferocious and he was one of the duracell bunnies for the aussies. And I rate Youngs very very highly.

    And given AAC played 13 all 3 and JD once I think I’d have to put AAC in instead, but it’s a close one.

  3. Also agree with most of this however.

    I think Sam Warburton is a great captain and probably one of the best flankers in rugby, but I think Sean O’Brien made a bigger difference in the 3rd test. He played a part of the scrum that directly and indirectly gave the match (therefore the tour) to the lions. Carried the ball a lot and was a pain in the arse for the Ozzie defense.

    • Not sure how much you can credit a 7 for the scrum? The front 5 yes, the 8 at a stretch, but not the 7?

      Warburton in the second test was immense at the breakdown. SOB was very good in the last test but less influential that Warburton was over the first two tests.

      • flankers actually play quite an important role in the scrum at the top levels of the game.

        not only must they stay bound and push, to add their weight, but effective pushing from a flanker can have a very big bearing on the angle of the prop. they are supposed to provide as much power as possible to help even the balance on the prop.

        the days of flankers hanging round at arms length are over. they must provide good, hard pushing.

        • My point wasn’t that they don’t push – it was that the fact the 7 was SOB in the 3rd test when we dominated the scrum was not because SOB is a fantastic scrummager and should get praise for this over Warburton.

  4. I think Horwill has a shot at 2nd row through the sheer force of will he exhibited in that 2nd test. He’s no slouch in the lineout either.

    I’d go for Hibbard in the hooker but I think the two players are so excellent that this now comes down to preference of style – I want that massive grunt Hibbard brings to the front row, Youngs has a less wobbly lineout and offers more yards in the loose. My old fashioned preference.

      • Jacob, in the front row he was in Moore didn’t get the chance to show any scrummaging prowess so I’d stick with the successful Hibbard.

        • with the lions props, Moore would have been the best hooker by a long way. but thats not how the game works ;)

          i really like the balance between Hibbard and Youngs.
          both bring a different style, and each seems to have certain strengths compared to the other.

          another nice thing about the two is that both can easily fill the starter, or dynamic impact sub role. both are excellent players. i really wouldnt mind which got the shirt. i think Youngs won out here because he started 2 tests.

  5. Hooper at 7 for me. Along with sticking with O’Conner at 10, dropping Hooper for Smith must’ve been clanger of the series by Deans.

    Still, he’ll probably be enjoying some highly paid gardening leave back in NZ mulling over that particular decision.

    • I don’t think he will get much of a pay out, I am pretty sure that Deans official resigned.

      Still, some very strange decisions.

    • Don’t know how much it counts as a clanger. I was excited about Smith, but he wasn’t the same player after he was KO’ed after 5 minutes and should never have been back on the pitch. Could have been a master-stroke. I agree though, Hooper was the best 7 on tour.

      Not sure O’Connor had a really good game in the series. A couple of half good games, but the 10 jersey wasn’t a lot to shout about all tour

    • Andy K – I’m sorry, I must be misreading this, are you saying that your team of the tour would have Jonny O’Connor at ten? Surely not?

      • Ok, now have understood it Andy K, sorry. Annoyingly understood it as soon as I posted – you’re saying that Dean sticking with JOC was a daft idea. Got it. Apologies again.

  6. No one really grabbed the 13 shirt although JD did well in his one performance in his natural spot.

    No one has mentioned POC instead of Parling which I find odd. I think Parling has developed fantastically on this tour and proved his (he’s only a lightweight lineout buff) doubters wrong, but if both players were fit surely we’d all still pick POC wouldn’t we? On that basis doesn’t he come in instead of him?

    Oddly given the combative mood I’ve been in over the last few weeks, I tend to agree with everything else!

    • thought the same about POC, but i guess the fact that he only stated the 1st test counted against him.

      plus THAT tackle from Parling was something to behold.

      had POC been fit the whole was through, he would definitely have been up there as one of the performers of the tour.

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