British and Irish Lions Squad for Australia 2013

Lions Rugby

Tour manager Andy Irvine and Head Coach Warren Gatland have named the British and Irish Lions squad to tour Australia this summer.

BACKS

Leigh Halfpenny
Stuart Hogg
Rob Kearney

Tommy Bowe
Alex Cuthbert
Sean Maitland
George North

Jonathan Davies
Brian O’Driscoll
Jamie Roberts
Manu Tuilagi

Owen Farrell
Jonathan Sexton

Connor Murray
Mike Phillips
Ben Youngs

FORWARDS

Dan Cole
Cian Healy
Gethin Jenkins
Adam Jones
Matt Stevens
Mako Vunipola

Dylan Hartley
Richard Hibbard
Tom Youngs

Ian Evans
Richie Gray
Alun Wyn Jones
Paul O’Connell
Geoff Parling

Tom Croft
Toby Faletau
Jamie Heaslip
Dan Lydiate
Sean O’Brien
Justin Tipuric
Sam Warburton

CAPTAIN: Sam Warburton

131 thoughts on “British and Irish Lions Squad for Australia 2013

  1. Excited! Hope I’ll still have internet when they make the anouncement!

    And possible omission of Robshaw? Any grounds for that? That would be an insane mistake!

    1. Seems to be the general consensus, but Gatland has played his cards close to his chest. Fierce competition in the back row…

      1. Yeah, but he is arguably one of the stand-out players of the 6N, would be surpised if he would not make the cut.

  2. No Jonny Wilkinson, no Chris Robshaw, no Mike Ross, no Ryan Grant, no Greig Laidlaw, no Kelly Brown.

    Has anyone told Matt Stevens yet? He probably wasn’t even watching…

    1. matt stevens plays both sides and is a midweeker.

      Sean Maitland??????

      Great call on Mako – will tour v well.

      1. No Simon Zebo, Craig Gilroy, Chris Ashton, Mike Brown, Billy Twelvetrees, Euan Murray, Alex Corbisiero, Danny Care, James Hook, Christian Wade…

        Not all were realistic options but just a few possibles which were left out

  3. No Robshaw is confirmed. Tipuric and Lydiate make it. Surprised Rory Best not there. No bolters unless you count Matt Stevens. Warbs captain.

    Parling surprises me, but he is a good player, just surprised he got the nod over others.

  4. Centres is a big disapointment. Roberts hasn’t had a good game in ages.

    Also I think the back is the weakest of the options available.

    Warburton couldn’t even captain Wales so why the Lions.

    Can’t argue with the full backs or the front row though (apart from Stevens?)

    1. Roberts has had one great game this year – a magnificent game even. Yes, it was only one so I also think he was lucky to be there. Gats must be hoping he continues to improve his form.

  5. BBC shows it’s inability to understand rugby – their headline “breaking news” is that JW was “left out” – anyone with half a brain knows he had an outside chance at best – saying he was left out is like saying Biggar was left out.

    1. reports in the press (not the bbc) show that gatland asked wilko if he would be available, and he said he was committed to toulon. seems like that is a bit of s length for gatland if wilkinson was “an outside chance at best”…

  6. Disappointed, lots of selections I think shouldn’t be there – Kearny, Croft, O’Driscoll, Murray, Gray, hartley, stevens, Heaslip, – and lots I think should – Mike Brown, Robshaw, Laidlaw, Wilkinson Hamilton, Morgan – but the decisions have been made. One serious ommission is the lack of Twelvetrees, Laidlaw or Hook – nobody who can cover as a third Fly Half in the case of a sudden injury. Seems rather foolish. :|

    Oh well, annoyed with a lot of the selections, but who cares, I’ll still support them. COME ON THE LIONS!

      1. same can be said for a few of the names. but overall i dont think it is too bad a squad.

        an in form Lydiate is the best 6 available (maybe Ferris to challange) so i dont mind that they went for him. i am slightly disappointed that croft also got the nod. i felt wood, robshaw or brown deserved it more than him. 09 lions probably got him on the plane.

  7. 15 W 10 E 9 I 3 S is the balance. Such a high proportion of Ireland (and low proportion of Scotland) is not in balance in their 6N performance. Some of the Irish players there haven’t played well for ages.

    Just noticed – no Zebo?

    1. I knew there was something I was expecting but didn’t get in the wings. Interesting call. He’s a class act,.

      1. agree with both that zebo is class.

        regarding Mike’s comments about the ration being out with regards to ireland and scotland: lets keep in mind that O’Connell and Bowe were injured for the entire 6Ns, Sexton was lost part way into the 2nd game, and Healy got a ban. so that is 4 of the 9 who did not feature a huge deal in the 6Ns. Heaslip seems to of regained some form, Kearney has imporved a bit, Murray seems to have come on a lot. the other 2 are SOB (no debate) and BOD (leadership and class will have helped)

        the problem for scotland is that their strongest players are in positions were other nations have strength. Ford, Murray, Hamilton, Brown, Beattie, Laidlaw, Scott, Visser. are any of these guys better than the ones traveling? (lets for a moment ignore the “bringing something different argument” and simply say if you would prefer one of these in the test XV to someone already picked)

  8. Vunipola, Hartley and Stevens are England’s second choice front row (and that is being generous to Matt Stevens) and whilst one could view Vunipola as a bolter, the selection of Hartley was probably more of a reflection on the form of others. Stevens is surely just back up, back up for 1 and 3?

    Sky News just told me that Sean Maitland is Quade Cooper’s cousin, so that explains that one!

  9. Surprised by a lack of Rory Best who was the best hooker in the 6 nations. Losing out to Hartley who has played little for England and not looked especially impressive. I also thought Jim Hamilton was a better shout than Richie Gray on form.

    Pleasantly surprised by Croft’s inclusion, but no Wood or Robshaw threw me a bit. I don’t think anyone called Matt Stevens in the bolters’ list yesterday, I’m intrigued somewhat. I’ve not been too impressed by him, for England he was a penalty machine and not so good a scrummager to think of him as being important.

    Also disappointed to see Farrell. I’m sorry, he’s a consistent kicker but I genuinely don’t feel he offers much of anything around the park. Jonny left out… I doubt he turned down the opportunity.

    1. i think Hibbard was the best hooker in the 6Ns. great in the loose and defence, and unlike best his throwing didnt wobble.

      Hartley has potentially made it because of leadership.
      of the genuine captaincy candidates, POC, BOD and Warbs all look to be in the test team, and without someone like K. Brown, or Robshaw the midweekers need a leader, this could be Hartley’s job. Youngs looks set to be sub test hooker. Best is a pretty good leader though, so it is an interesting one. who knows, hartley may get banned and best will make it in (its happened before)

      Stevens’ scrummaging has been a lot better this year, and he also offers a threat over the ball, a lot like Cole. However, i completely agree about being a penalty machine, this doesnt seem to have changed.

  10. After to agree re Hook. Does this mean that Hogg is going as the utiliy back?
    Hartley over Best, bod over Barrett or 36 or even Scott Williams. Coles and Stevens over Paul James. Gatland we all hope that you have this right; Away the Lions.

    1. Neil Jenkins suggested so. They have said that Hogg “has played 10 before”. so he is the cover at 10.

      i get the impression that after the 1st of June if a 10 gets injured we will be seeing Wilkinson flown out pretty quickly, as i doubt they are going to ask Hogg to play 10 in a test…

  11. I’m sure there are centres around who are in form why has he picked 2 who aren’t? Also, Stevens and Hartley? Really? Nice to see Sean Maitland in though. As for captain, since Ryan Jones isn’t there I’m not unhappy with Warburton.

  12. Really not very happy with this selection. Croft over Wood and Robshaw? Hartley over Best? Gray over Launchbury?

    1. agree a bit on these. also steven over murray or ross…

      with regards to croft and gray. i think that they have been chosen on the basis of past performances and knowing what they CAN produce. also croft isnt in bad form at the moment, but i would think wood and robbo would be a bit upset.
      hartley was a surprising one. i wonder if he is deemed to be a stronger scrummager than best?

      on the note of the scrum. interesting to see that Jones is the only real “scrum monster” the others can all hold their own, but tend to bring more in the open. this could suggest trying to play rugby instead of just scrum the aussies off the park!

  13. I think the choice of Captain is a bit of a sting. Only a hand full of performances for Wales and unable to guarantee his starting place, then he is Lions first XV and captain. Iffy at best.

    That said, I don’t see anyone else of captain material (BOD and POC) who would be certs for all the games anyway.

    1. i think POC has a 2nd row shirt locked in.

      good lineout forward, and a bit of an enforcer too. he has come back to the game more of an athlete as well. POC would have been my choice for skipper.

      Having said that, Warburton is a great player, and not a bad leader. and having guys like POC and BOD around him will make it easier.

  14. Mako Vunipola is my pick at ‘bolter’ he is majestic in the loose. Tall order to get past Healy and Jenkins on the pecking order though.

    I would have favoured any other number 8 (Morgan/ Easter/ Beattie/ Denton) over Heaslip, he cannot have been picked on form.

    1. mako isnt a bilter as he is already. its a very tried and tested selection with no players includef who havent faced SH opposition and been consistent over the last x years. its a difficult situation trying to glue 4 unions together at short notice. how many of these players have ever played with each other? it could be gatlands revenge circuit for wales with extra beefed up firepower.

  15. I know they’re all Lions now, support the squad, etc. but still, we’re all interested in the sums, aren’t we?

    W 15
    E 10
    I 9
    S 3

  16. I’m a Sarries fan, and I would have left Farrell at home and taken Jonny, Hartley over best I think they will regret that one big time after the Aussies get up Hartleys nose, I can see him spending sometime in the bin.
    I would have taken Borthwick as mid week Captain , he has been playing out of his skin for Sarries.

  17. No Ryan Jones either who probably got injured at the wrong time unlike Lydiate who got” uninjured” at the right time. Two outside halves is a bit of a gamble and of them one has to play himself back in after serious injury and the other has hardly set the world alight of late.

    Probably a spine of Welshmen in the test side and Gatland to build on that looking for the extra bits and pieces to get the win down under .

  18. Far too much swaying towards Wales.Any home union can get themselves up for playing England.Welsh players do not have a good record against Australia.Robshaw and Wood should have gone,laidlaw and Kelly Brown.I can’t see how you can say The Welsh back row’s stock has risen after one game.It’s all very well Gatland saying he knows these players,but these players he knows don’t beat Southern Hemisphere sides.

    1. What’s all this rubbish about the Welsh only getting themselves up for one game? Over the last 2 years only one NH side has beaten us – Ireland, once. We’ve beaten all of the others twice. So we’re clearly the dominant NH side.

      Can’t argue with your point about our poor record against Aus though. Anyone who watched those matches knew we just didn’t have the thing that we needed to get over the line. Tiny margins. I am hoping that the Lions mix can take what Wales did against the Aussies but add skills and mental strength from the other NH nations and finally take them on.

      1. brighty, i agree with what you have said.

        however wales have lost to more than just Ireland in the last two years. england won a 2011 world cup warm up match against wales. and france won in the world cup semi final. france also beat wales in march 2011 and england won in feb 2011. obviously the last two are slightly over the 2 year mark, but you get my point…

        personally i am not arguing with any of the welshmen that are travelling, as i think that all of them deserve their spot. However the balance of the test team will be very interesting, as Gatland must try and bring enough of where wales have been successful, but have that extra bit to go one further and beat the aussies. anymore than 7 welshman in the starting test team and it does seem a little bit like we might as well just put all 15 out…

  19. Hartley will likely end up leading the mid-week team, really annoying the Aussies and generally making a nuisance of himself without getting near the test side.

    Plus, he’ll probably be the one given the camera to do the “Inside the Lions” feature for the dvd……

    1. fair point about the inside the lions bit… Hartley’s character has probably helped him a bit.

  20. Matt Stevens? What? Huh? No Ryan Grant? kind of puzzled about that decision.

    No Rory Best?! He played very well for most of the 6 nations, he should have been here.

    Launchbury was a kind of suprising omission, but then again, i don’t see to much of a surprise, very good players chosen.

    No Robshaw is incredible. I am no England supporter, but objectively he was incredible during the 6N, consistently shining. I am baffled about that decision.

    backs: No Zebo? Aww, there goes a bit of flair, but the others are very good picks in the back three. Davies instead of Scott does not make me happy, but then again i’m no fan of Davies after his horrible Ireland game.

    And as a last note, I miss laidlaw in this line-up, he’s consistent and useful.

    1. Matt Stevens plays both sides, it has basically been his trump card throughout his career. Also, Sarries did get to the semi-finals of the HC, so must have been doing something right up front. However, meh.

      Hartley has likely been picked over Best to annoy the Aussie’s, neither likely to make the test squad so pick the good tourist? Hartley always seems popular in the England squad.

      Launchbury has dropped off post-Six Nations, looks knackered, but Gray hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire either. Would prefer to see Hines.

      Feel that Wood should have made it over Robshaw, when he plays well, England win. Both should have been in ahead of Lydiate, who has basically got in because he is Gatland’s mate.

      Zebo probably losses out because he can’t play centre or full-back. Davies has always been a Gatland mainstay, but won’t make the team. Again, picked as a tourist.

      I miss Danny Care for the mid-week games. Now THAT would have been flair.

      1. looking at the centre selections I would raise the arguement that Davies is more likely to be the 1st choice with the other three viing for the other centre spot.

      2. i think Lydiate deserves to be there more than croft. lydiate is a workhorse, and something that the lions really need. Wood is too, and both could have been great to have.

        also zebo can play fullback. he played there for ireland in the AIs while kearney was injured

  21. Jenkins, lydiate and Murray in the squads a bit laughable. Oh can’t take any French players except his mate. Lydiate makes it on from being his mate and god knows why Murray is there. He’s a rubbish version of Phillips. Would rather have saw best go instead of Hartley and care instead of Murray. Ryan grant deserves Jenkins loose head berth and lydiate has played the least rugby out of any player on the tour. He’s been consistent for Newport but little else. O’Connell makes it in off the back of one QF performance? Please, what happened to picking form? Bowe was horrendous in his ulster comeback but picked up a little in his next pro 12 game. Is he playing better then gilroy, wade, visser? Gatland and his boys. There will be no splitting them up.
    Lions XV for first test.
    Jenkins
    Hibbard
    Jones
    AW Jones
    Evans
    Lydiate
    Warburton
    Faletau

    Phillips
    Sexton
    North
    Roberts
    Davies
    Cutherbert
    Halfpenny

    And those players all have wonderful records against the Aussies.
    Might as well bill the tour as Wales revenge tour down under. Can’t help but think of what else it looks like.

    1. Without Bigger of Preistland in the squad, or in your test 15 how can you bill this as ‘Wales revenge tour’

    2. James, you know you don’t really mean that. POC will start over Ian Evans, SOB over Lydiate, Bowe over Cuthbert, BOD over Davies, etc.

    3. there was nothing saying he wouldnt take french players. but most of them (Jenkins not being one) made themselves unavailable because they are hoping to be in the top 14 final. Phillips plays in Wales, yet he was chosen.

      Murray has actually added a lot to his game recently, and Lydiate is an outstanding player. He will carry hard, tackle anything that moves, and allow the 7 & 8 to roam around getting the glory jobs done.

      POC has done more than 1 QF. he has been good domestically for munster, he had a great QF and a very good SF too. also he is PAUL O’CONNELL… the guy is one of the best forwards that any of the home nations have had in recent years.

      Also if you are picking a team purely based on their record vs the Aussies, then most of the names you will come up with are retired now.

      1. record against australia are retired? I don’t agree fully with James or though his intent has a ring of truth to it. But im sorry, last summer Wales lost 3 times with most of these guys playing

  22. Ffs can’t we just be happy about the squad picked and give them the support they deserve ? Congratulations to the players picked and commiseration to those who didn’t make it . Now go over there and win the series and make us proud to be British!!!!

  23. interesting selection. gatland picked up youth players with wales due to limitations with seniors. this lions team is a tried and tested selection. i can think of a hoard of younger players from the 4 unions that would feel unlucky not to go but they are not tried and tested. i suppose gatland believes he could have got more success with wales against australia if he was personally at hand in the tests and surely he could have clinched at least one. the first 15 will be telling of his true feelings on the matter.

  24. It’s almost as if this squad was written down after last years’s 6n, with a few topical nods (T YOungs, Maitland & Vunipola)?

    Anyway thank goodenss to an end to the speculation.

  25. A bit surprised after all. Hartley is spoken about already. Possible midweek action for him. Think Best should have taken that spot in all fairness. To see Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw and Wilko not in this squad surprises me. Think our chances get less with Farrel and Sexton than with Wilko. Just look at his performance last weekend against Sarries, that was a masterclass. Nevertheless now these are the picked Lions and I will support them till the end! Go boys.

  26. A Welshman here feeling desperately sorry for Robshaw.. captain of England, captain of club, twice player of the year. Lydiate played 2.5 games since October and gets the nod.

    I think the 1st test team will look like this:

    Jenkins
    Hibbard
    Jones
    AWJ
    POC
    O’Brien
    Warburton
    Faletau

    Phillips
    Sexton
    Roberts
    BOD
    Bowe
    North
    Halfpenny

    1. agree re Robshaw, although i may have taken wood over him. But a firing Lydiate is hard to deny a space.

      Regarding the team you chose. I think it could be that. Although it seems a little welsh heavy, and i think we should be looking at bringing in a few more guys to add something else. I would go for Healy at 1 over jenkins.
      I would look to have Lydiate at 6 maybe, and SOB coming off the bench, i think he brings more impact and Lydiate is a workhorse. I would maybe like Youngs at 9, but i think phillips will work too. Tuilagi could easily slot in at 12 for roberts, but either would do.

      the interesting thing that McGeechan said was that sometimes you look at guys who may be doing alright in a struggling team, but put them in the lions and they are superstars. I think that Healy (ireland not leinster being the strugglers) and Gray could possibly fill that category.

      1. Yeah i agree Simo, and i didnt pick that team purely cos im Welsh but cos i think it’s what Gatland will do.

        But i do think your right with Healy over Jenks and hooker is not a dead cert.. will depend on performances down there. The only reason i give Hibbard the nod in my selection is because he seems to have little regard for his personal safety and it’s obvious Gatland intends to go route 1.

        I like the idea of O’Brien at 6 – the aussies struggled with him at the WC and the Irish are the only team whove recently had success over them.

        I think Gatland will stick with the 09 centres to start with and use Manu if it doesnt seem to be working.

        I also agree with your last statement, you look at Wales compared to the Welsh regions they are totally different players (usually). I think the same can be said when they pull on Lions jersey.. Roberts man of the series in 09.

        1. I think you will find that Scotland have the recent best record against Australia, I think followed by England.

          1. I stand corrected – Scotland, then Ireland, then England, and lastly Wales. I think that means Gray, Maitland and Hogg need to start. They will bring a winning mentality to the team.

  27. now now anarky. stop flaming. i think there will be several english players in the starting 15 and i think u know that. leave trolling and flaming to the english. theyre good at that ;)

  28. My worse fears realised and even beyond those

    Matt Stevens??? Yeah he can play both sides, just doesn’t play either very well

    As for the choice of Croft and Lydiate over Robshaw and Wood? Has Gatland actually watched any rugby over the past year? Same goes for Gray

    Has he noticed that Croft and Lydiate have played hardly any rugby in that time whilst Robshaw and Wood have shone

    The omission of Robshaw and inclusion of Lydiate I find absolutely astounding. To the extent where it almost feels like a snub to Robshaw. God only knows what he feels like – what more can a player do?

    1. Not choke in the big games? !!JOKE!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I really do not mean that, he is a class player. Unfortunate for him though to be in the most competitive position.

      Seriously, I am as mystified as anyone by the backrow selection and in general the overall policy of picking on class rather than form. It’s a massive risk to take the likes of Lydiate and Bowe and hope they will find their previous form – a few others as well that are picked on class rather than form – Jamie Roberts, Heaslip, Gray … The persistent theme here is that recent performances count for little, you have to have shown that you can excel, even if it was for a brief spell some time ago. I have some sympathy with this as I myself said, with regards to Phillips/Youngs – the latter is more consistent but the former has a better top game when on form. So Gatland seems to be going for the same idea.

      I do remember last year getting some abuse for suggesting Robshaw wouldn’t go – in my opinion he’s actually better now and might have sneaked my backrow selection but in terms of “what more can he do?” unfortunately the answer is to be a better 7 than Tipuric/Warbs or a better 6 than O’Brien/Lydiate and he is neither of those things.

      1. Whilst I agree with most of what you say in answer to your last point, I differ

        Robshaw is at this point in time, a better 6 than Lydiate because Lydiate has not played any competitive rugby for over a year other than 2.5 games for Newport.
        It is an incredibly silly decision.

        Personally I believe he is a better 6 than O’Brien as well, despite O’Brien being more eye-cathing with his runs. But I’ll accept that as the Lions will need ball-carriers

      2. Brighty, one would hope that Gatland has chosen Lydiate and Croft less on hope and more on expectation having seen them play toward the end of the season. They could be an excellent choice given that they are likely to be the freshest members of the squad, along with Bowe, O’Connell and Gray. wasn’t AWJ injured for some part of the season aas well?

      3. i wonder if Wood and Robshaw have both suffered a bit because a) neither had much in the 6 shirt for england recently and b) they go about doing the quiet stuff (more wood than robshaw) and it has gone slightly unnoticed. also Lydiate seems to have taken the “workhorse 6” spot, while croft and SOB have the “running round in open spaces 6” spots. Personally i would have taken Lydiate and Wood for the dark arts, then let SOB go as the 6 who clatters into things.

  29. but we all know that despite some unconventional (some would say questionable) decisions with selection, if gatland gets a clean sweep in australia he will still be the man that can.

  30. 2 Englishmen, 2 Welshmen, 1 Scot and 1 Irishman will be feeling very lucky to go IMO. 1 Irishman, 2 Scots and 3 Englishmen can feel agrieved. Looks like the Welsh won the decision making then. All forward decisions too. The backline virtually picked itself, with the marginal places going to one of the likely options.

    1. i would say more than 1 irishman could feel a bit annoyed. Zebo, Best, even Ross could have all easily toured over people who were selected. Laidlaw, Hamilton, Grant and Murray would have all been pretty useful too.

      1. Best should have gone. Zebo and Ross were in with a decent shout, but only that. I looked at the 6 positions where I thought players were lucky to go and thought about who might have gone instead.

  31. It all feels a bit 2005 to me.

    Players chosen by reputation and what they did a year or two ago rather than on current form

    Let’s hope the result isn’t the same. Starting team for me

    Jones, Youngs, Healey
    Wyn Jones, Parling
    O’Brien,Warburton
    Faletau
    Youngs
    Sexton
    Roberts, Tuilagi
    North, ? (not sure here, is Bowe back to decent form)
    Ha’penny

    Let’s hope that the added players will help the Welsh spine to do something none of them have managed since 1987 and beat Australia in Australia

  32. Gatland’s Choice – not mine. Not sure what the following have done in the last 6 months to justify selection: Kearney, Bowe, Roberts, Stevens, Hartley, Gray, Croft, Heaslip.

  33. If Gatland is picking on historical formi.e Bowe, lydiate,he should have taken Ashton-who when playing to form is the best winger in the world by a country mile.Australia would have been terrified by his presence

  34. I think if I was an Australian winger I would much prefer lining up against a predictable Bowe( who has never been world class) than against an unpredictable Ashton . An out of form Ashton is equal to a an in form Bowe. An in form Ashton is a World beater

    1. He’s not world class – when he had Foden feeding him gifts he was a decent finisher. He owes his entire career to Ben Foden.

      The fact that he’s had all the game time in the world this year but still scored less tries than a prop shows he’s not world class.

      He’s not in the same league as the players Gats has selected.

      1. i do and dont agree with you here brighty…

        I think Foden did a fair chunk for ashton, however you will see that plenty of his tries have come off his own tracking and taking inside balls off of players that are not foden.

        Ashton at times has looked to be pretty handy, and almost world class. I dont think that Cuthbert is world class, he is yet to produce anything like some of what ashton has managed.

        I will now go on to say though that Bowe is an outstanding footballer, and he probably is a player i would say is leagues ahead of ashton. Bowe is the complete player. good in all facets of the game, and a deadly finisher. and right now, his form is a mile better than ashton’s.

      2. To be fair if you mean aulika, then pretty much every winger has scored less tries than a prop :P

        1. out of form bowe vs in form ashton. i would probably still back bowe… and i’m an englishman.

  35. It started off so well, the squad is picked and Proppie concludes with the comment “Nevertheless now these are the picked Lions I will support them till the end! Go boys.”
    Then ……. same old opinions based on nationality – no wonder it is so difficult for the Lions to win a series.

    1. Ronan, I wish we’d had a coach who wasn’t a national coach as that would have nipped most of this in the bud.

      As has already been mentioned a few times, the euphemism “Gatland’s mates” stands for “Welsh player picked cos he’s Welsh” because of who Gatland coaches. He is not seen as impartial so is an easy target for those who want their fave Sco/Eng/Ire player to have been picked.

      However, I do disagree with all of this “right, let’s stop all debate now and support them” as it inmplies you can’t have them both. I support Cardiff Blues but that doesn’t stop me pointing out that our 2nd choice Hooker is useless and our second row full of weak journeymen. Disliking the selection and calling for other players to be chosen are all natural and have zero to do with the amount of support we will all give this team.

      1. agree with you here brighty.

        also i would say that in my mind the “gatland’s mates” can be used as aptly for some non-welsh players than it can for the welsh. I think that croft has made it in on his 09 lions performance.

        I would say that all of the welsh players deserved their boarding passes, as those 15 are in the top 37 players.

        I just hope that now they are in the touring party it all starts from afresh. picking the test team needs to be based on performance in training and warmup matches. nothing else matters from now.

        and totally agree with brighty, even though we are discussing the selections, it doesnt mean we dont support the lions…

        1. @brighty @simo

          This problem has always occured! If a Welshman is at the healm, it’d be mostly Welsh, same with England, Ireland and Scotland.

          What they should do is pick a neutral, random, coach that has no connection to any of the home nations.

          (Unrealistic, yes.)

          1. The problem then is that the coach isn’t going to have a great knowledge of the players available.

            These coaches just need to make sure that they are professional and do not let anything cloud their judgements.

  36. congrates to maitland on making the team finally his talent is being recognized took him to play for Scotland now is plying for lions. would still like him to come back to new zealand and put on a black jumper in the future but good luck to the team tke it to those aussies

    1. he has been capped by scotland, so unless they change the rules, he wont be putting on a black jumper unless scotland change kit colour…

      he seems like a classy player though, and someone who can create things. i would like to see him in the team with farrell (most likely midweek) so that he can provide some creativity to take a bit of burden off of farrell.

    1. personally i dont think the squad is too bad.

      there are between 2-3 players per position, the welsh have won the 6Ns 2 years running, therefore to suggest that their starting 15 has a player in the top 3 of their position (out of 4) isnt too much of a stretch for the imagination.

      the issue of “gatland’s mates” may arise if the test team is dominated by welshman, if there have been other players who seem to be performing to a higher standard in the warm up games. (this was the problem when we had the “woodward’s mates” episode)

      the squad has been selected. now everyone can relax until they are on the plane. then is the point when we have to start thinking about who is going to be in the test team.

      the 37 players have been chosen, now it is about trying to fit them in around each other, and finding out new and exciting combinations. to simply reproduce the welsh team (with sexton at 10) would be pointless, as we all know what those combinations yield. everyone has a clean slate now. once they are in aus, then its time to prove themselves.

      as brian moore said, there will not be unanimity, but these are our lions.

      1. I think that there were rightly comments that Woodward took and played too many of the players he knew and trusted. Players that he knew would not let him down. We know how that turned out.

        I think the same comment has to apply here. Has Gatland picked too many of the players that he trusts due to his close involvement with them. Time will indeed tell, but it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be questioned now. To question it at the end of the tour would seem slightly like being wise (or hopefully unwise) after the event.

        I do think that Brighty is right in that the Lions coach would be better off not being a current 6N head coach.

        As far as players selected goes, the only one that wasn’t in the frame and I don’t think should be going is Stevens. The two who absolutely should be on the plane are Best and Morgan. After that it is fine margins. I hope Gatland has got it right as the only thing that riles me more than a smug welshman is a smug aussie! LOL

  37. I remember Woodwards’s mates, it was short sited and it back fired.However that was based on World Cup winning personnel,Wales don’t have that pedigree with their current players.

  38. Plenty of good stuff in this squad, but let’s focus on the controversial points because they’re more interesting!

    Gray has to be the most ridiculous call here (yes, even more so than Stevens). Stevens has at least played very well for his club this year. Gray has hardly played, and when he has he has looked average. Given the fantastic (albeit recently less so) season Launchbury has had, he should be outraged. Even Lawes and Coombs should feel angry – reeks of pre-selection regardless of form.

    I was initially surprised about Hartley, but given how bad Best’s throwing has been lately actually it makes sense. Although Best has some extremely good games (Uls v Nhmp; Ire v Wal) his throwing is a liability. It’s worse than Young’s throwing!

    Though Grant should go instead of Stevens, although we all know Sheridan should be in instead.

    Maitland, meh, would have preferred Zebo or Wade given their form and outrageous skills.

    No ball playing 12s like 12trees or even Madigan, so no chance of outfoxing the Aussies. Lealiifano won’t be worried in the slightest.

    Wilko should have gone. I suspect we’ll see him turn up eventually.

    I think Lydiate is a fine player, but he has had no rugby, and too many players who offer what he does (tackling) have been playing well. Robshaw has been the one of the outstanding forwards of the last two years, winning the premiership, never really having a bad game, captaining some good victories and winning 8/10 six nations matches. Wayne smiith, lynagh and fitzpatrick all felt he should be there, and I agree. Wood, another richard hill esque character, should also be aggrieved. This too smacks of pre-selection.

    1. Had forgotten about Gray when I made that last comment, but he was one of the 6 that I thought were very lucky to go – Stevens, Hartley, Gray, Heaslip, Lydiate and Jenkins (due to the French connection).

      Wonder what my Lions back up 15 looks like? We’re going to see a few of these before the tour is over.

      Byrne
      Zebo, Visser
      12T’s, Scott (2 12’s as all the 13’s are already there)
      Wilko
      Care
      Morgan, Wood, Robshaw
      Launchbury, Hamilton
      Sheridan, Best, Grant.

      1. Oooh alternative Lions. Good idea

        Ross, Best, Sheridan
        Launchbury, Hines
        Robshaw, Morgan, Wood / S Armitage
        Care
        Wilko
        12T, Scott
        Zebo, Ashton
        Brown

    2. Totally agree with everything here Robbo. Some of these names seem like they were written down ages ago, and he’s just refused to replace them even though they’ve been out with long term injuries and hardly played, or just well out of form. Still a good squad, but like you said no ball playing 12, and only one ball playing centre in BOD (who is likely to get injured).

  39. After listening in disbelief to some news about the squad on the radio earlier, the news that Robshaw was not selected (WTF?). I couldn’t wait to see the line up. There are a few surprises. O’Brien and Lydiate over Robshaw? An on form Lydiate maybe, but hasn’t he only just come back from injury? Matt Stevens? I’m a big fan of Stevens, but did not expect to see his name down. Really please for Mako Vunipola, fully deserved. Hartley over best? Another strange one. And the news that Warburton is the captain. Now I’ve got nothing against him at all, but I do fell it would be beneficial to the team to have selected a captain who is likely to stay fit and available for all three tests, and given his track record???? Garland apparently described him as the most successful Northern hemisphere captain over the last three seasons. But he is the same captain who led Wales to eight straight defeats? And that was broken in their second game of this years Six Nations. Anyway some interesting selections, and the test 15 could be very interesting.

  40. I think Lydiate is a bad choice. He’s fantastic when fit, but he’s been out of the game now for ~8 months, Robshaw has been consistently setting an excellent example for months now and is a much safer bet.
    Heaslip? Really? His dip in form is outmatched only by Ashton’s. I thought Gatland said he picked on current form and not credentials? He should definitely be replaced by Beattie or even Vunipola as a wildcard. Heck given the amount of time O’Brien has played at 8, you could even replace Heaslip with another Kelly Brown or Tom Wood. But only taking 1 out and out 8 could be risky.

    I’d also replace Davies with Twelvetrees. Granted I don’t watch much of him but I’ve never been convinced with Davies. He just seems like a Jamie Roberts clone but 2 inches shorter, 6kg lighter and noticeably slower, which isn’t needed with Tuilagi there. The only ball playing centre there is O’Driscoll and he’s 34. Having 3 crash ball midfielders seems daft.

    Backs, Wings, Locks and Props all look good to me (apart from perhaps Murray over Stevens) but Hartley over Best I do not understand. At all. The only reason I can conjure is that Gatland thought it would be funny to see England have to use 3rd choice Hooker against Argentina.
    And choosing Murray seems like a hastily reached choice. Definitely would have taken Laidlaw given he can cover both half positions effectively and has an excellent boot.
    Finally the captaincy. It seems the logical choice as long as he doesn’t drop anybody like he did Vincent Clerc. For me it was between him and AW Jones.

    So to sum up, that’s Robshaw for Lydiate, Beattie/Brown for Heaslip, Twelvetrees for Davies, Murray for Stevens, Best for Hartley and Laidlaw for Murray.
    Making 13 Welsh, 10 English, 8 Irish and 6 Scottish.

  41. Correct me if I’m wrong, but has Gatland made history by taking a father and son on his Lions tour?

    1. Pablito – interesting articles and I concede that a Welsh heavy squad will not scare the aussies. However, what is left out of this analysis is that no Northern Hemisphere squad will scare the aussies.

      To tackle the perception of Welsh dominance – pick a few of the Welsh players and tell me which of them are definitely (not close calls, but categorically 100%) worse than boys not selected. If you can find enough to remove Welsh dominance in the squad I would be surprised?

      So if (big if as not all agree, but some do) we’re accepting that Warren has selected good players regardless of nationality, that overall he has a squad of the best players in the NH (with a few niggles here and there as there always must be when it is subjective) then what’s the solution to it being Welsh dominated and hence unlikely to scare the aussies? Would we scare them with a squad of inferior but non-Welsh players? Would having Ashton, Care, Laidlaw, Best added to the squad, and the Welsh boys in those positions removed, engender fear in the aussies? I don’t think so.

      So as there is no solution to this perceived problem that we don’t scare them can we conclude it’s just another way of moaning that there are too many Welsh players in the squad?

      As for some specifics – who really knows whether Zebo would have shone or crumbled on the stage? Manu adding an X-Factor? 12Ts – as I’ve said before, even England wouldn’t pick him as first choice so what chance the Lions? Danny Care the best scrum half in the NH? – again, England don’t think so.

    2. Thanks for posting those, interesting read. I expect we will get treated to a deluge of these hoping to unsettle the touring party and create/expose divisions. Hopefully siege mentality will settle in nice and early. Let’s hope the B+I press get stuck into the “toxic” Wallaby set up as well, they have plenty of their own issues to work out!

  42. Yes, hadn’t thought about how light England are going to look in the front row against
    Argentina. Hope Corbs recovers by then! Wilson might get to start as well! Maybe Sheridan will come back into the team?

  43. Having had time to mentally discuss these selections it is clear that Gatland and the rest of the coaching team have chosen players that will firstly be units which have a proven track record, complement one another, will stand tall and be counted, will not take a backward step. I believe it to be a solid mix of proven tourists and class players. As Blighty stated, form dips, class is permanent.
    Secondly and quite controversially, I think looking at the squad he has named players who will be definite dirt trackers from day one to nurse those they see as test team certainties; after all it is a short tour. ie. Stevens and Hartley cannot be seen as test starts, nor Kearney. This in my humble opinion ensuring 1st choice players are either starts or bench cover.
    Therefore certs for the dirt trackers are:-
    Rob Kearney
    BOD (Captain)
    Connor Murray
    Matt Stevens
    Dan Cole
    Dylan Hartley
    Richie Gray
    Tom Croft
    Jamie Heaslip.
    Therefore certs for the Tests are:-
    Lee Halfpenny
    George North
    Jonathan Davies
    Ben Youngs
    Adam Jones
    Richard Hibbard
    Alun Wynn Jones
    Paul O’Connar
    Toby Faletau
    Sam Warbarton.

    And finally I always had Chris Robshaw in my squad and feel that this is the one omission where Gatland has erred.

    1. How can Cole and Stevens both be certs for the dirt trackers? After all, one of them is guaranteed at least a reserve test spot (because apart from A Jones they are the only tightheads)

      Also with certain positions (tightheads being one, and loosehead being another) there are 2 favourites to fight for the test shirt, so the 3rd player named was always going to be a midweeker.

      Interesting that you have listed croft as a certain midweeker. I am not his biggest fan, but he is a test lion. Also based on the comments made by GR O’Brien has been taken as a 7. I would suggest that croft has a better chance than you suggest. Similar could be said of names like Hartley. He was an unlikely tourist, so why bother taking him if you don’t think he can at least challenge for a test shirt?
      We all think what we want about these players, but ultimately it’s what the coaches think that matters.

    2. Personally I think that certain commentators have set a little too much faith in a team who only had one good game in the 6N (and I’m not talking about England). The Lions Test team is undoubtedly going to be a hard for test selection.

      I do reckon that Halfpenny, North, Tuilagi, Youngs B, Sexton, AWJ and Healey are definite frontrunners, but playing in Oz is a different proposition from playing in the Northern Hemisphere, and mobility might play a bigger part in the games than in the 6N.

      If the Aussie props can’t cope with decent scrummaging then Cole is more likely than Jones as he offers more round the park. If Heaslip comes back into form (which some people say he is), then Faletau, who was only so so in the 6N might be pushed out. Tom Croft offers something different at 6 and has shown he can do it before for the Lions. Hooker is wide open. Any of the 3 could start as none are stand outs in the Keith Woods mold.

      Lots of ifs and lots of buts, water to flow under the bridge, injuries, changes in form, etc. Therefore those people picking 11/12 welshmen should think about who they would have picked after 3 games of the 6N. Still think that there will be more Welshmen in the team than any other nationality, but it isn’t going to be a team swapping one red shirt for another.

      1. Staggy, while I take your point so far that we cannot judge Wales on only one game I do tire a little of this “they only had one good game and they can only get up for England” comment because it’s not put in the context of the entire tournament. Everyone had a serious set of mediocre games so picking the B&Is from that set was a challenge – do you ignore the peak achieved by Wales as a lucky blip and assume everyone’s true level is the mediocrity we saw for most of the tournament, or do you acknowledge that at least 1 team did achieve at least 1 world class performance so they deserve the plaudits for it?

        Halfway through the 6Ns I didn’t know who to pick because everyone looked a bit crap, despite the media’s insistence on talking up the England Grand Slam wagon.

        I think you are right that 11/12 Welsh won’t be the final XV balance but wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water i.e. it’s right to fete the Welsh performance on that day and rightly say their players achieved a level that no other B&I team did in that tournament, but this isn’t the same as saying the right Lions team will be all Welsh.

        1. Have always said that Wales were never as bad as stated and never as good. Same goes for England. They aren’t as good as a thrashing of NZ and aren’t as bad as the thrashing by Wales. I repeat that I expect more Welsh players to start than any other nationality, but not as some commentators have said 14 with Sexton.

      2. I would guess that the only “certs” for the dirt-trackers are Stevens, Farrell and Murray.

        There are a couple of positions, notably Scrum-half and Tight-Head where we can be quite confident that the Test team will show a two-man selection (Cole/Jones and Youngs/Phillips) with the starting spot depending entirely on the game tactics.

        I should think that every other position is entirely up for grabs. The only starting positions that I would put money on at this stage would be Sexton and North.

        Warburton will obviously start but at 6 or 7? Halfpenny also likely, but at 14 or 15?

    3. I really don’t think anyone is a “cert” to be in the test squad or to be a midweek player. In my opinion everyone now goes out on a level playing field. I remember in 2009 that Lee Byrne was considered the stand our full back, and a “cert” to start – then on tour Kearney emerged. I am not saying that right now I don’t think Halfpenny should start, but even he is not a “cert”.

      Yes it is difficult to arrive in Australia with no pre-conceived ideas of your test XV, but I certainly think that every players has a chance of playing in the test if they perform whilst they are out there.

  44. Robbin Deans doesn’t seem too phazed by our route one,one dimensional offence.We don’t seem to have any guile in the backs.( apart from BOD and Hogg).Our fullbacks are “safe”.Which back row will link to the backs?Youngs has to start as he is the only nine that offers an attacking threat.Whose going to offer the roll of 2nd receiver.

    1. Yeah Sharpy, having the highest try scorer in the 6N and the highest points scorer make up part of the backline is just daft when you want to score points… Can we just stop dissing the Welsh by implication? All of this “the only decent backline players are Hogg, BOD and Youngs” is just tosh. You have your dislike of the Welsh team, I get it, but put another record on please.

  45. Maitland is very fortunate that Gatland has a great loyalty to the old school that both of them attended and to Waikato and the NZ of their youth.
    The Kilted Kiwi will play a test whether he deserves to or not.
    I suppose if one man gets to pick his son and another gets to pick a club mate who can’t throw a ball accurately at a lineout then the Boss gets to pick his favourite as well.

    1. Of the 10s on show in the 6N, Farrell on average over the 5 games was the strongest, but Sexton is obviously the number 1. With Wilkinson not available, picking Farrell is a no-brainer, especially given Gatland’s somewhat dislike of Hook and never rating Biggar. Rowntree and Tom Youngs (who I assume you are referring to) have never worked together at club level and his lineout is similar to Best’s- patchy. However Youngs offers heads and shoulders more in the loose, almost never goes backwards with his low CoG and had good hands. I suggest you watch Maitland more closely, maybe watch videos of him on youtube and you will see that he would walk onto one of Wales’s wings, either of England’s and one of Ireland’s.

  46. Having watched the Super Rugby this year, the signs are not good. Given how well Australia did last year despite are crippling amount of injuries to massive players such as Pocock, Genia, Cooper, O’Connor, Beale, Horwill etc, their superb club form is ominous…

    Assuming a little bit over what their side will actually be, and comparing it to the likely Lions side, lets see who would make their team:

    15 – Halfpenny just atm, but Beale when fit and firing easily
    14 – O’Connor (over Bowe)
    13 – Tough out of AAC/Tuilagi if Tuilagi brings his A game (easily AAC if anyone else!)
    12 – Lealiifano/Tapuai/Barnes (over Roberts)
    11 – Ioane (no contest)
    10 – Possible Sexton as more consistent than Cooper!
    9 – Genia (NO CONTEST)
    8 – Higginbotham (over Faletau)
    7 – Hooper/Smith (over Warburton)
    6 – Croft (over Dennis. Not so if Smith plays 6)
    5 – Horwill
    4 – O’Connell
    3 – Jones/Cole (over anyone)
    2 – Any lion, but Moore is decent. Close
    1 – Healy

    So we are in good stead in the front row, one lock, possibly one backrower, possibly 10, and maybe one other back.

  47. Nail on the head there Robbo ,just add Israel Folau,Henry Speight,Drew Mitchell,Foley and Jesse Mogg and their backs look very ominous

    1. i think the aussies could probably pick 3 players in each position, and any could do a pretty decent job at test level. the strength of aussie rugby at the moment should be a worry for the lions.
      not to mention that they have guys (mainly backs) who are so talented that they can play in a handful of positions, and they would be dangerous regardless of which number is on their back

  48. On current playing form this is how my test 15 would look.
    1. Vunipola
    2. Youngs
    3. Jones
    4. AWJ
    5. O’Connell
    6. Croft
    7. Tipuric
    8. Heaslip
    9. Youngs
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Tuilagi
    13. BOD
    14. Maitland
    15. Halfpenny

    This is purely based on highlights I’ve seen and results from recent club fixtures/results etc, and 6N form. Based on these the Lions captain does not even make it to the starting test 15. That is a little worrying.
    Obviously Gatland will not be picking his team based on this but rather how the players train etc when with the squad in preparation for the tour. But am I the only person who thinks Tipuric is a better 7 than Warburton, and Croft a better 6?

    1. Depends what you want your back row to do ultimately. Flying openfield 7 then definitely Tipuric. Dog in the rucks, probably Warburton. Blind side tackler/ball carrier SOB, BS lineout/ball carrier Croft, BS ball stealer probably Warburton. In this respect I find myself comparing Warburton to Robshaw. Interesting – wasn’t thinking that when I started writing this.

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