British & Irish Lions 2013 – One year to go…

With exactly one year to go until the British & Irish Lions begin their 2013 tour, the excitement can officially start to build. A favourite past-time on The Rugby Blog has always been debating the possible line-up for a Lions test match against Southern Hemisphere opposition, so with a year to go, here is Ben’s side that should start against Australia in the First Test.

British & Irish Lions:

15. Rob Kearney, 14. Tommy Bowe, 13. Brian O’Driscoll, 12. Jamie Roberts, 11. George North, 10. Johnny Sexton, 9. Mike Phillips; 1. Gethin Jenkins, 2. Rory Best, 3. Adam Jones, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Paul O’Connell, 6. Stephen Ferris, 7. Sam Warburton (c), 8. Toby Faletau


16. Dylan Hartley, 17. Cian Healy, 18. Alun Wyn-Jones, 19. Sean O’Brien, 20. Danny Care, 21. Rhys Priestland, 22. Leigh Halfpenny

But what do you think? Give us your teams below.

45 thoughts on “British & Irish Lions 2013 – One year to go…

  1. This is the same Rory Best and Cian Healy who were made to look like amateurs by the English front row?

  2. Here’s my team…

    Healy, Hartley, Jones
    Gray, Lawes
    Ferris, Warburton, Morgan

    Phillips, Priestland
    Roberts, BOD
    North, Bowe, Kearney

  3. The same Cian Healy and Rory Best who completely dominated the exact same English front row the previous year, that’s who. Mike Ross got injured very early in the Twickenham game this year and was replaced by a loose head. If you knew anything about rugby Alex, you’d know that no matter how good the other front row players are, a scrum will not be solid without a competent tight head.

    1. The Irish front row were already well on the back foot against England before Ross went off. Remember thinking for a second at the time (before I saw the way he was holding his arm) that he was actually being substituted for tactical reasons.

      1. The reports were the injury was sustained in the first scrum. So, whilst fun to watch, I don’t think we can read too much into it in terms of relative strengths of 2 very good front rows.

        If Court was a tactical sub it would go down as the worst in the history of the game :-)

        1. Ha yes, although when I saw it and thought it might be tactical I wasn’t aware that Court couldn’t really play tighthead.

  4. I would have Cole in at 3, Jones dropping to the bench in place of Healy. Morgan for Faletau and Lydiate instead of O’Brien.

    1. Definitely wouldn’t have Cole in over Jones at the moment.

      There’s so much competition in the back row, which is great, but will be a selection nightmare. You’d have a Lions-quality back row just from Irish players, but then there’s Warburton (likely captain) and Lydiate who both deserve a place, as well as players like Faletau, Morgan, Robshaw, Croft and Denton.

      I cannot wait for the Lions.

  5. At first glance it looks very harsh that there are no English in the starting XV but been through whole team and it’s hard to see where they’d fit in! Predict that by next year names like Robshaw, Morgan, Ashton, Marler and Botha will be floating towards the top!

    1. I agree. And I want to see a younger team this time around. No player over 25 years of age. What have we got to lose? It’s not like the Lions have ever been successful. Change it up.

  6. I do know plenty about rugby thanks, and it is not to say Best or Healy are bad players, I am just bringing up the point that I like to have a a prop on the bench who can turn the screw at scrum time when he comes on. Are we are saying that a front row that performed well in 2011, who were worse in 2012, are the best shout for 2013? It also shows how in one year things can change, maybe next year Ireland will dominate England.

  7. Hm, I think the props are all very close. Cole being a fantastic scrummager as is Jones. Healy is in a different mould though, he plays his best rugby in the loose. I don’t think the phillips/ priest land axis will be the best out there in a years time. I also disagree with Roberts at 12. He’s been pretty average lately. Plus, we all saw what happened when a slightly shorter yet more powerful tuilagi ruined him in the 6N. I think its early doors to be picking teams just yet. Only shoe ins so far are gray, warburton and kearney if he holds his form. A lot can happen in 12 months.

  8. seriously? No starting places for the 6n runners up. And Lydiate not even in the 22? Or is this the lions team that Kidney would pick? In which case why no Darcy?

    1. Name me an England player who played better than the players in that XV. And be honest. No, be really honest.

      Lydiate – fantastic Six Nations. Ferris – fantastic season and an inspiration.

      1. It just looks like all the 50/50 decisions have gone to Irish players. Healy/Cole, Hartley/Best/Rees, Tuilagi/O’driscall/Davies, Sexton/Preistland, Bowe/Cuthbert, O’brien and Ferris ahead of Lydiate/Robshaw.

        1. Healy would bring more overall impact off the bench than Cole for me. Hartley’s very close. Davies good but not a patch on BOD, Manu nowhere near. Sexton form 10 in Europe.

          Bowe & Cuthbert is tough but the debate for me was more North or Cuthbert. Bowe is proficient. O’Brien possibly at 8, Robshaw close but Ferris is a behemoth.

      2. Morgan & Tuilagi and yes I think international appearances should count for more. Sexton is terribly inconsistent, I would have had Priestland at 10 and Farrel on the bench. I don’t see why the Irish players like BOD POC Sexton and Ferris should be elavated based largely on HC or Rabo performances.

        1. “I don’t see why the Irish players like BOD POC Sexton and Ferris should be elavated based largely on HC or Rabo performances”

          so what performances should they be “elevated” on?

          The HC and Pro 12 were dominated by the irish clubs… and thats talking as a Welshman.

        2. Sexton had a good six nations. Farrell is good for his age. Completely one dimensional. Priestland is in danger of being ousted by Biggar.

  9. Yeah, the HC was dominated by Irish teams. But we’ve already discussed why. Still don’t think Roberts would be first choice 12.

  10. Jenkins
    Barritt (Spelling?)


    I really dont rate the Irish back row as much as everyone else. They showed nothing in the Six Nations.

    1. jealousy gets u nowhere. You really don’t rate the ERC player of the year ahead of Halfpenny??? & you overrate an aging T. Bowe – oh that’s right Bowe plays for Ospreys. I truly hope someone with such Dragon-tinted lenses as yours doesn’t pick the side. Also, the team you picked is all muscle and not enough creativity IMO..

      & don’t forget you only won your game against Ireland because of shocking refereeing from an English ref, AGAIN!! You could at least show some humility to balance _your_ overratedness.

      1. Assuming Gatland gets the job its gonna be pretty Dragon sighted. I may’ve missed a trick with kearny on the bench over Hogg but I think by next year he will’ve really come out of himself and be world class. Halfpenny is full of creativity and a great boot on him. I’ll stick with him thanks. You’re not gonna sway me on the back row. The Irish back row is overrated. I would pick all of these players before an Irish back rower. Warburton, Tipuric, Lydiate, Faletau, Ryan Jones, Tom Croft, Robshaw, Morgan and Denton.

        And as for winging about referee decisions, all teams have suffered them so it balances out in the long run and in my opinion the one of the signs of a quality team is winning when they are not necessarily playing the best rugby on the pitch. So, in conclusion, get over it.

        Oh, and just to add. I was wrong about Bowe, you’re right I’ll put in Christian Wade instead. He’s very promising.

        1. “The Irish back row is overrated. I would pick all of these players before an Irish back rower. Warburton, Tipuric, Lydiate, Faletau, Ryan Jones, Tom Croft, Robshaw, Morgan and Denton.”

          That’s because you’re not very bright.
          A manager has the responsibility to pick the best team which would more than likely involve at least some Irish backs, probably disproportionately more Irish backs than Irish forwards.

          Just keep digging holes for yourself. The more you mouth off about having zero Irish back-rowers (when most people think it’s the main benefit of having Irish players in the team), the more it seems evident that you feel inadequate about the matter. As you say, there are some promising Welsh backs coming through the ranks, so I wouldn’t be too upset.

          1. Well I think we’ll just have to agree to differ in opinion. I’m sure I may well be proved wrong. It’s happened a lot before.

    2. Farrell at 10!?! God no! He isn’t the best fly half for England, let alone the lions. He’s a great kicker and an okay tackler but that’s all. Hasn’t shown any more than a glimpse of a passing game in his career so far, neither for England nor Saracens. Hopefully he can develop it as he gets older, but I doubt it. For now though, he’s not even close.

  11. Lions, Lions, Lions! I’m already excited. It feels like with the Scots and Welsh over in Australia in the next month it’s like a mini-Lions tour! I’ll report back from the Aus – Wal Melbourne test as to the general brilliance of a rugby night in Melbourne…

    On the fly-half debate i haven’t seen a better run of performances from a Lions prospective 10 than Priestland at the RWC so surely the shirt’s his until at least after the summer tests…? Plus we’d much rather have the Lions play like Wales rather than Eng, Ire or Sco wouldn’t we?

    Oh, apparently Cipriani wants to make the Lions next year….and all the misdemeanours at the Rebels this season were blown hugely out of proportion…he’s ever so misunderstood…poor bloke.

  12. Jenkins
    Lydiate (yes in the row for work rate)
    O’Driscoll ( Davis/ Tuilagi)

    Cole/ Healey (if new rules about props comes into action by then, both)

  13. I dont see how Best was better than Hartley. He is just the only irish hooker out there, when you consider that Cronnin doesn’t start for Leinster, you can hardly pick him. Equallly, the English line out was superb, Hartley is very physical and a better ball carrier, not to mention scrummager.

  14. 15. Halfpenney 14. North 13. Tuilagi 12. Davies 11. Christian Wade (in a year he will be ridiculous) 10. Sexton 9. Phillips

    1. Adam Jones 2. Hartley 3. Cole 4. Gray 5. Alun Wyn 6. Lydiate 7. Warburton 8. Denton

    Subs: 16. Ross Ford 17. Joe Marler 18. Ryan Jones 19. Tom Croft 20. Ben Youngs 21. Owen Farrel 22. Ben Foden

    Farrel is a usefulsub to have because he can cover 10 to 13, both Croft and Jones have played second row and back row – Jones in particular puts in gargantuan performances from the bench, Marler and Ford offer a more dynamic option for the front row, on his day Youngs is lethal – hopefully he is regaining his early international form and Ben Foden is a consistent performer for England and deserves a shot.

  15. 1.Jenkins 2.Rory Best 3.Dan Cole 4.Richie Gray 5.Alun Wyn Jones 6.Dan Lydiate 7.Sam Warburton 8.Stephen Ferris 9.Mike Phillips 10.Johnathan Sexton 11.George North 12.Manu Tuilagi 13.Brian O’Driscoll 14.Tommy Bowe 15.Leigh Halfpenny

    16.Matthew Rees 17.Cian Healy 18.Courtney Lawes 19.Sean O’Brien 20.Ben Youngs 21.Owen Farrell 22.Ben Foden

    That being said, there’s still time for things to go wrong/right for everyone in the mix, in particular Scotland’s young guns still have time to prove themselves – Denton, Visser, Hogg and Weir all look promising, while the same applies to the rest of the home nations. Selection is going to be very interesting indeed.

  16. 15. Kearney, 14. Bowe/Ashton, 13. O’Driscoll/Tuilagi, 12. Roberts, 11. North, 10. Sexton, 9. Phillips; 1. Jenkins, 2. Hartley, 3. A Jones, 4. Gray, 5. B Davies, 6. O’Brien, 7. Warburton, 8. Heaslip/Denton

    Reps: 16. Best, 17. Cole, 18. Lawes, 19. Ferris, 20. Youngs, 21. Flood, 22. Halfpenny

  17. 1.Healy 9. Murray 16. Best No enlgish in the starting team :L
    2.Ford 10.Sexton 17. Jenkins
    3.Jones 11.Visser 18. Ryan
    4.Gray 12.Roberts 19. O’Brien
    5.O’Connell 13.Davies 20. Laidlaw
    6.Lydiate 14.North 21. Priestland
    7.Rennie 15.Kearney 22. Hogg

  18. 15: Kearney 14: Bowe 13: O’Driscoll 12:Roberts 11:North 10: Farrell 9: Philips 8: Denton 7:Warburton 6: Ferris/Lydiate 5: Davies 4: Gray 3: Jones 2: Best 1: Genkins/Cole Subs: Healy Davies Sexton O’Brien Murray O’Connell Halfpenny Hartley I’m trying to look at combinations here and I can see a few. O’Driscoll and Roberts of course which we have seen.. Roberts crashing It up and O’Driscoll running those suport lines that he is so good at. Warburton would be perfect against a player like Pocock as he is great at breakdowns and Ferris/Lydiate are both very good defenders.

  19. 15:foden 14:bowe 13:o driscoll 12:roberts 11:north 10:flood 9:phillips 8:denton 6:lydiate 7:robshaw/warbuton 5:o connel 4:gray 3: jones 2:ford 1:healy

  20. 15. Kearney 14.ashton 13. Tuilagi 12.roberts 11. North 10. Sexton 9. Philips 8. Falateu 7. Warburton 6.ferris 5. Oconnel 4. Wyn jones 3.cole 2. Best. 1. Healy

  21. I think the side may differ significantly than the expected one depending on domestic and international peformances this season. Expect the unexpected. Possible XV from early season form (I wouldn’t want to play against this team)!:
    1. Cole 2. Best 3. Jones 4. Lawes 5. Gray 6. Lydiate 7. Warburton 8. Denton 9. Care 10. Wilkinson 11. North 12. Roberts 13. O’Driscol 14. Tuilangi 15. Kearny Subs: Jenkins, Hartley, Robshaw, W Jones, Philips, Sexton, Bowe

  22. Im glad you are not the Lions coach, because you clearly haven’t been watching any rugby at the moment. Every single inch reported in the national press has at least 8 English players in the final 15. I suppose you haven’t seen Danny Care, or Marler, or Wilkinson or Easter, or Lawes, or Youngs or Robshaw, or Robson or S. Armitage or d.Armitage

    I rest my case Sir you are daft. Oh and dont forget that when the Lions team is choosen it is choosen on current form rather than reputation, and of course we have the HCup to finish and the Six Nations and the November internationals

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