Leader of the Pride: The Candidates for the Lions Captaincy

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With every minute of rugby from now until the end of the season we can slowly continue pencilling in the names on our Lions XV team sheet. We might finally all be agreeing that Dan Cole should start at prop, O’Brien needs to be in the back row and Tuilagi in centres. Yet there is one debate that still rages on in rugby clubs and pubs across the country and that is: who should have the honour of leading the Lions on their tour down under? It’s likely over the coming months player will lose form or pick up injuries, but with over half the Six Nations having already elapsed it seems as good as time as any to begin evaluating the contenders.

Brian O’Driscoll
BOD was back to his best against Wales on the opening weekend of action, rolling back the years in a man of the match performance. However, since then his performances against both England and Scotland have left a lot to be desired. There are also increasing suspicions that his Lions starting berth is under significant pressure from the English pair of Barritt and Tuilagi, something that would have been unthinkable a year ago.

What can’t be argued though is that O’Driscoll would have the respect of the touring party. His 83 caps won as captain and three Lions tours is more experience than the other contenders put together, while even at 34 he is one of few truly world class players at the Lions’ disposal. If none of the main candidates for captaincy can be guaranteed a starting position in the match day 15, O’Driscoll would be a wise choice as tour captain.

Chris Robshaw
The English flanker has arguably been the stand out performer of the Six Nations so far, with man of the match performances against both Ireland and France. These performances, along with captaining England to an emphatic victory over New Zealand, have made Robshaw one of the front runners for captaincy this summer.

However, what we shouldn’t forget is back in the autumn his decision making arguably cost England wins against both Australia and South Africa. What his chances of captaincy will probably come down to is whether or not Gatland sees a place for him in his starting back row, but if he leads England to their first Grand Slam since 2003 he surely will, and stands a good chance of wearing the armband.

Sam Warburton
Only a year or so ago Warburton was probably the first name on the Lions team sheet, with a ‘C’ pencilled in by his name. The youngster had led Wales to the semi-finals of the World Cup and followed this up by leading the team to the 2012 Grand Slam.

However, since then Wales have suffered a run of eight defeats including five at the Millennium Stadium. An injury left Warburton out of the clash against France, which the Welsh subsequently won, and he has since been forced to sit on the bench. It’s hard to consider a man for Lions’ captaincy when he can’t even start for his country; however, Gatland has a lot of respect for the flanker and could be the man to get the best out of him. Unlikely to be captain but stranger things have happened.

Kelly Brown
Some might argue that Brown was taking over a poisoned chalice when he became the fifth Scottish captain in two years, but since then Brown has brought a new toughness and efficiency to the team. For the first time since 2001 the Scots have achieved back to back victories in the Six Nations and Brown has to take a large amount of credit for this. In both wins Scotland had less territory and possession but still managed to grind out the victory, a sign of great leadership.

Unfortunately for Brown though, he is battling just to get on the plane, let alone for the captaincy. Few would probably select Brown in their starting Lions XV at present, meaning his chances of captaincy are slim. However, if he does get on tour the Scot would definitely be an outstanding candidate for the midweek captain.

Jamie Heaslip
After 40 minutes of Six Nations captaincy the Irishman was making a real claim for the Lions job. He had seen his Ireland team go in 23-3 up at half time and seemingly on course to victory. Since then, however, Heaslip has had a tournament to forget and might find himself hard pushed to even make it onto the plane at this rate.

However, we shouldn’t be too quick to write off a man who played every minute of every test in South Africa. Like Robshaw it might just take Heaslip a few games to get use to the rigours of international captaincy and wins over Italy and France could again put him into contention. He will probably miss out on captaincy this time round but can still be an important leader on the pitch.

Alun Wyn Jones
A (very) outside shout for the Lions captaincy is the giant Welshman. Over the past five or so years Jones, despite injury, has been one of the best second rows in European rugby. Having been part of the 2008 and 2012 Grand Slam winning teams he has that natural winning mentality and also has Lions experience having played in all three tests on the last tour.

Counting against the Welshman is a lack of international captaincy experience, having only led Wales once. He has captained the Ospreys since 2010 though, while those who remember the 1997 Lions tour will know that Martin Johnson had never captained England before being given the captaincy. Perhaps a more significant reason for discounting Jones would be the new breed of second rows. Gray, Launchbury, Parling, Lawes, Ryan and McCarthy have all excelled in recent years and Jones may struggle to get past that group to make the match day XV, especially when considering recent injuries. Therefore he is unlikely to be chosen as captain, but if Gatland does go for an unconventional choice Jones could be the man.

By Guy Michels

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49 comments on “Leader of the Pride: The Candidates for the Lions Captaincy

  1. Claire McLoughlin March 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm -

    As a staunch Irish supporter, nothing would make me prouder to see BOD get the captaincy for the Lions. But, based on the performances throughout the first three rounds of the 6 Nations, it’s very hard to see past Robshaw.

  2. Alyn Wyn Jones??

    Talking about grasping at straws.

    Will be bloody lucky to make it on the tour let alone be captain.

    BOD for me if he’s fit and first choice, followed by Robshaw.

  3. Would Ryan Jones not be a contender? Carried Wales back into contention for the 6N, playing very well and got a fair bit of experience as well?

    And I would disagree where you say that Robshaw’s decisions cost England defeat against Oz and particularly SA. Against Australia, that probably was the case (but England did almost score the try which would have vindicated the decision….) but against South Africa, I think it was the right call to go for the posts, with enough time to build phases and win another penalty against an SA side which had given away so many penalties in the past minutes. If Botha had not knocked the ball on, England would probably have won.

    • I think saying they would probably have won is a bit of a stretch… they would have been starting from phase one just outside their own twenty-two, and would have had to go a good 20-30 metres before they had a reasonable shot at goal.

      • actually jamie, had botha not gone for the ball, and let morgan (who clearly called for it) take it out on the full (as had happened with the previous kickoff – and you can see it was happening there too) england would have had a scrum on halfway, therefore meaning they were at least starting within kicking range, putting HUGE pressure on SA.

    • Worth noting that Ireland were in the same position vs Scotland, went for the corner and failed to score.

      The same pundits who vilified Robshaw for his decision then vilified Ireland for doing the exact opposite. Who’d be an international captain eh? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

  4. I have to say that the more I think about it, Gatland should go for a tour captain and then pick a playing captain for each game depending on who is picked. That way he is not trying to shoe horn someone into a team who isn’t there on merit. On this basis I would go for BOD who is experienced, media savvy and well respected. Captain for each test and mid week game picked subsequently. Might take some of the pressure off the team captain as well.

    • i have to agree with you here Staggy. i do not think any of the actual captaincy candidates are guaranteed a starting spot. in fact, i would say that at this stage no-one has their spot nailed on.

      jenkins has come back to form, grant has been great, and healy got himself banned, which has opened up the 1 shirt.

      farrell has been exceptional (maybe minus the french blip) with sexton getting injured, and biggar has shown good form too.

      halfpenny has seen the return from injury of kearney, and the rise of hogg. there are also the other threats of brown, goode (and we cant forget foden on hard grounds!)

      tour captain seems like the most logical option.

      having said this, is tuilagi is to be used as a 12 (to which i can see many benefits against aus) then BOD will probably have the 13 shirt stitched up (unless JD can pull finger) so he may be the best bet for captaincy.

      on the point of manu at 12. not only will this frighten the wallabies, because cooper at 10 is viewed as a defensive weakness, but it will mean they have to play mccabe at 12 to deal with manu physically, which means that one of Beale, O’Connor or Barnes will have to miss out for McCabe’s inclusion. (or quade misses out and one of them plays 10). so for that reason i think manu has to start, and possibly at 12.

    • I,m with you , see earlier comment, as far as having a tour captain, but I can not see bod being on the plane.

      • have to agree with staggy. also its been a while since jones has played 8 internationally, and faletau would be picked there for the lions above him. after all toby is 1st choice 8 for wales over ryan.

  5. Picking a tour captain worries me and gives the Aussies one up. Big statement but one Gatland needs to make and pick a captain. May only play first test if bad result or form dips. With a strong 6, don’t write warburton off. Lydiate being injured has had huge impact. Imagine back with no hill, jeffrey no calder, winterbottom no teague etc.

  6. Personally, I’d go with Tom Wood.

    Before his long term injury he was looking like the long term England captain, and he’s definitely one of the England core leaders. Plus with Ferris and Lydiate out, I just can’t see past him as 6. He is playing out of his skin at the moment, and is the Richard Hill of England.

    Won’t happen though.

    • agree with you that wood is a core leader of england, in fact i would like to think he is the VC, as hartley hasnt been starting, and wood was after all the favourite to lead england before injury.

      i also agree that at the moment wood has probably been the best 6 on show for all B&I teams in the 6Ns.

      my only worry though is that robshaw and o’brien have also been on good form, that one may end up playing 6 with the other at 7. if ferris or lydiate can get back to fitness, i also think that they may get the nod over wood, because we all know what they can bring.

      as for having him as a captain for the lions, i think it is a long shot, but stranger things have happened. i would maybe put him in a similar category as AWJ.

    • Agree.

      ON current form Wood should be nailed on as the test blindside whereas Robshaw isn’t a certain test starter.

  7. Simo, I’d love to have a fully fit Ferris or Lydiate available, but…

    Ferris is definitely out for the season
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/21535697

    and Lydiate might be back for the last match
    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/rugby/six-nations-dan-lydiate-may-be-back-in-time-to-face-england-8495088.html

    I don’t know if his team will be involved in the HK or enough meaningful rugby to make the Lions trip a reality. I hope so, but even if he makes the trip he’d have to be a reach right now given how well Wood is playing. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that England have been so much more effective since he came back from injury.

    • completely agree with you on everything there.

      with regards to lydiate, his team arent in the HC, and i believe they have been knocked out of the amlin. so he would be entirely selected on reputation rather than form (which could be a gamble).

      i saw that ferris was out for a large chunk, i know there was talk of him maybe featuring in the HC, but as you pointed out, thats a long shot. Wood is looking the likely frontrunner for the 6 shirt. especially because his breakdown work will go nicely with whichever of robshaw or o’brien plays 7. if tipuric or even warburton gets the nod at 7, then wood may be a bit under threat of someone shifting across to 6 (robshaw or o’brien).

      will be interesting to see what happens.

  8. Tough choice indeed

    BOD would be my choice for captain but not make my team at the moment, he and a couple of his irish mates need some big games in the last 2 rounds, Hisleap included.

    Brown is on the plane, he has been fantastic and has played a fair few games at 8 too, if we like versitility but again not in my team at the mo.

    I would go Robshaw at the mo as he is the only man garanteed a place on the field.

  9. Hmmm…. Robshaw is the leading contender for me at this moment in time but I can’t help think that he may be pushed for a starting berth which makes it a hard choice. If I were to pick a Lions team right now based on form over the six nations it would probably be:

    1. C. Healey
    2. R. Best
    3. D. Cole
    4. G. Parling
    5. J. Launchbury
    6. S. O’Brien
    7. C. Robshaw (c)
    8. T. Faletau

    9. B. Youngs
    10. J. Sexton
    11. L. Halfpenny
    12. M. Tuilagi
    13. B. O’Driscoll
    14. G. North
    15. S. Hogg

    16. G. Jenkins
    17. A. Jones
    18. R. Hibbard
    19. J. Hamilton
    20. T. Wood
    21. D. Care
    22. O. Farrell
    23. R. Kearney

    • i think this squad is pretty close to what i would choose too.

      i do wonder if i would maybe see about Tommy Bowe or zebo having a wing spot when fit, but based on being injured, we cant assume they will be in.

      my only thing about this team is that i actually dont think the backrow would work too well together. on paper they are 3 top players, and all playing pretty well. but i think faletau and o’brien are real ball carriers, and robshaw likes to pop up at first receiver to act as a link man. for these reasons i think that wood has to be a starter in the backrow, in the 6 shirt, as he spends most of his time stuck at the bottom of rucks. i also think that players like faletau and SOB can provider a bigger impact of the bench out of these 4 names.

      so my backrow would be one of either:

      wood, robshaw, faletau with SOB bench.
      wood, SOB, faletau with robshaw bench.
      wood, robshaw, SOB with faletau bench.

      bringing SOB on after about 50-60mins would have a great impact, and he also adequately covers all the backrow.

      apart from that one change i think your team is spot on, and i would definitely have the same 23 names for the first test at the moment.

      on an different note. i think we could see the scottish props of grant and murray (and even cross after the ireland game) push for tour spots. i would not be surprised to see one of them take a prop spot. although if we take 5 props it would be hard to go outside of Healy, Jenkins, Cole, A. Jones and Ross.
      Does anyone know if the lions tour will have 23 man squads? because i noticed that super rugby is still running the 22′s. if we do have a 23 man match day team, then it will mean we will likely see and extra tourist, with a 6th prop. (would need to be a loosehead added to the names i have so far)

      • To be honest I completely agree with what simo was saying about the back row and the whole team being right other than that.

        I would have had Jon Davies in the build up to the six nations but he has played his way out of my team.

      • Think it will be 22 man squads as this is was the size of squad for the rugby championship (4 nations).

        I still think it’s a bit soon to consider Hogg for a starting berth, and if Bowe is fully fit and in form would start him on the wing with Halfpenny at fullback.

        Backrow wise SOB and Robshaw should start – but can see Gatland going with a ‘traditional 7′ – with a shootout between Faletau, Wood and Heaslip for 8.

        A lot of people wouldn’t be considering Heaslip but there is still a couple of months till the tour, and I think he will find form by then.

        • you must watch rugby through rose tinted glasses.
          I need medication??
          is it common practice to insult people who dont agree with your idealistic views.
          oh to be as omnipotent as you.
          To be able to sit on high and pontificate at the lesser mortals who dare to view things differently.
          It must be wonderful to have this natural anthropomorphic attitude that allows you to lead your minions.
          Funny I seem to remember a guy like that from history,,
          Ah yes Adolf Hitler

          • i notice that rob is happy to have a random dig at people, but fails to actually put any of his opinions out there…

            oh and nice use of plenty of big words, did you have a thesaurus handy? if you dont have anything constructive to say, and you have decided that you are going to liken someone on a rugby blog to hitler, then it may just be better to say the energy and not bother typing.

          • Well Rob seeing as you have enough to say about other people’s opinions why not share your opinions on who should go down under? Hope you can handle criticism.

  10. Joe Launchburry – IMO about the only player I can think is guaranteed to start at the moment. Seriously it’s either him or a tour captain.

    On a side note I think Morgan will be the test 8 if he keeps his early form through the rest of the season, and Billy V in with a shout too if he gets game time in the 6N.

    • Let me start by saying that I am as big a launchbury fan as they come. And I agree with you that he is one of the front runners for a lions spot in his position, although a guaranteed starter may be slightly generous (the likes of parling, Ryan, Gray, and AWJ are all in the hat too, not to mention injured players like o’connell and charteris. There are also older guys not playing test rugby – shaw, Hines – who may still be considered) I would go for big joe, but I am biased.

      Also launchers only has 7 caps at the moment, I believe it will be 9 by the time the lions comes. So not only would a test lions spot be huge, but test captain at the age of 21? Possibly asking a little too much, don’t you think? He hasn’t even captained wasps, let alone England. I would say that sexton is still a nailed on name at 10, as long as he is fit. I think Rory best could get the nod at captain, apart from the odd blip he has been the standout 2.

      • With no disrespect to all you launchbury fans out there but personally I feel there are far better players to offer that could bring more to the table in ways of experience and knowledge not doubting his capability’s as a player just feel theres better options out there. I admire your optimism for him to possibly take the captaincy but let’s face it, it ain’t gonna happen really. The top 2 contenders for the captaincy are Chris Robshaw and Ryan Jones in my opinion purely based on recent results in the 6 nations to date

        • Rhys, agree with the comments about launchbury and captaincy, as I said above.

          But in terms of other players being able to offer more. After the AIs garland admitted that launchbury was in the squad that they had selected. At that point joe has 4 caps, two of which were starts. This would suggest to me that gatland is looking to pick on form, not reputation. With regards to your posts of a lions team on another thread, I can’t help feeling that you have picked on reputation/past performances in a few players. Roberts, Phillips, heaslip, warburton, o’callaghan and Rees have all been playing poorly of late and should not be anywhere near a lions your on current form. You have also selected croft (who is a handful of games back into rugby) and not wood or o’brien who have been the form flankers (along with robshaw and brown)

          • Yeah I wassnt being totally serious, it’s just I have never seen a build up to a lions tour where no one has a position nailed on as yet, which is really a great state of play in terms of competition and having all the players gunning for a starting spot – no one can rest easy in the quest for a place on the tour.

            I think Launchbury will shine in the Auusie conditions, but that’s just my opinion and the second row is as tough a call as every position at the moment.

    • I am a big fan of Launchbury but think captaincy for this tour would be a step to far. Would he command the instant respect of some of the senior players from other nations? Probably a risk that Gatland doesn’t need to take.

      Also I don’t think he is guareenteed started yet. I would have him starting in my current XV but you could easily make a case for any two from Gray, Parling, Hines, Hamilton, Lawes, Coombs, Jones, Ryan and if fit O’Connell starting in front of him.

      Personally wouldn’t take Morgan on tour. I would bring two 8′s Heaslip and Faletau with the likes of Wood, O’Brien, Robshaw able to cover if needs be. Vunipola could be a bolter selection though.

  11. 15-L Halfpenny (S Hogg, R Kearney) 14-A Cuthbert 15-L Halfpenny (S Hogg, R Kearney) 14-A Cuthbert (T Visser) 13-M Tuilagi (J Davies) 12-J Roberts (L (T Visser) 13-M Tuilagi (J Davies) 12-J Roberts (L Marshall) 11-G North (S Lamont) 10-O Farrell (D Marshall) 11-G North (S Lamont) 10-O Farrell (D Biggar,J Sexton) 9-M Phillips (G Laidlaw, D Care) 8-Biggar,J Sexton) 9-M Phillips (G Laidlaw, D Care) 8-J Heaslip (K Owens, T Faletau) 7-C Robshaw [C] (S J Heaslip (K Owens, T Faletau) 7-C Robshaw [C] (S Warburton, K Brown) 6-T Croft (R Jones, J Tipuric) Warburton, K Brown) 6-T Croft (R Jones, J Tipuric) 5-J Hamilton (D O’Callahan) 4-R Gray (AW Jones, A 5-J Hamilton (D O’Callahan) 4-R Gray (AW Jones, A Coombs) 3-A Jones (D Cole) 2-R Best (R Ford) 1-C Coombs) 3-A Jones (D Cole) 2-R Best (R Ford) 1-C Healy (G Jenkins). A big heavy pack formidable Healy (G Jenkins). A big heavy pack formidable scrumagers, good at the break downs and plenty scrumagers, good at the break downs and plenty of height in Gray and Hamilton for the lineouts, a of height in Gray and Hamilton for the lineouts, a unstoppable front row and plenty of experience in unstoppable front row and plenty of experience in the pack. The backline is a force to be reckoned the pack. The backline is a force to be reckoned with with a evil half that’s diverse, with Tuilagi with with a evil half that’s diverse, with Tuilagi AND Roberts in the centre on the the crash ball AND Roberts in the centre on the the crash ball theres not much that would be able to stop that theres not much that would be able to stop that and Cuthbert and North on each wing need I say and Cuthbert and North on each wing need I say more?? Halfpenny at full back got a good boot on more?? Halfpenny at full back got a good boot on him and excellent under the high ball no other him and excellent under the high ball no other choice for me. A young back line but plenty of choice for me. A young back line but plenty of guts. A formidable squad would you agree????

  12. 15-L Halfpenny (S Hogg, R Kearney) 14-A Cuthbert (T Visser) 13-M Tuilagi (J Davies) 12-J Roberts (L. Marshall) 11-G North (S Lamont) 10-O Farrell (D Biggar,J Sexton) 9-M Phillips (G Laidlaw, D Care) 8-J Heaslip (K Owens, T Faletau) 7-C Robshaw [C] (S Warburton, K Brown) 6-T Croft (R Jones, J Tipuric) 5-J Hamilton (D O’Callahan) 4-R Gray (AW Jones, A Coombs) 3-A Jones (D Cole) 2-R Best (R Ford) 1-C Healy (G Jenkins). Quite a young squad but plenty of guts with some experience with the older players such as Rob Kearney, Jamie Roberts, Sean Lamont, James Heaslip, Chris Robshaw, Ryan Jones, Adam Jones, Rory Best and Gethin Jenkins, potential and enough talent to beat the aussies 3-0. Robshaw is my captain of choice with Ryan Jones as vice captain. I don’t know what he’s (robshaw) doing or saying to influence the England rugby team but it seems he’s right on the money so far through the tournament but doesn’t quite have the experience as a captain that Jones has but their top of the table therefore my decision is purely based on recent results.

  13. The lions should have a captain that has experience as a captain and has been on the international stage for a while so the other players know who he is and what he’s about someone that’s not afraid to express their opinion and respected throughout the rugby community all over

  14. Valid and reasonable comment it wasn’t my intention to pick them for reputation however I views are with all those world class players bringing something different individualy to the table e.g Tuilagi may play a different style of rugby to what Roberts is used to playing but it might suit the type of rugby that Roberts likes to play so It might excel his performance. What are your opinions on Brian o’driscoll? P.thanks slot for knocking me down a peg or 3 lol

    • i think roberts and tuilagi are pretty one dimensional, and actually play quite similarly. also with those two in the centres, the only time your wingers are going to see the ball is if they come off of their wings. instead you need a ball player in the midfield, and this is where someone like o’driscoll becomes very useful.

      i personally think BOD should play. and i think that manu should be shifted to 12. i have said it a few times before on the forum, but manu at 12 will force the wallabies to pick players they may not want to pick. manu is such a physical threat at 12 that not only do the aussies need someone to stop him at 12, they also need to think about who they play at 10. cooper is so weak defensively, that he defends at 15 for the reds. this would mean that the wallabies have to adopted that tactic (thereby not having a natural 15 back) or they have to play someone else at 10, thereby reducing their attacking potential. they will also likely have to play someone like McCabe at 12, again reducing the attacking threat that they offer.

      in my opinion the players in contention for the wallabies 10, are: Cooper, Beale, Barnes and O’Connor
      for 12 its:
      Barnes, O’Connor, Tapuai and McCabe
      15 could be:
      Beale, O’Connor, Barnes, Folau, maybe drew mitchell or Adam Ashley-Cooper (although he is the likely 13)

      even at 13 they lack really big physicality, as the main options look to be Ashleey-Cooper or Anthony Faingaa.

      now most of these guys are so talented that they play multiple positions, so it is posible to make up a backline of them. but defensively against the lions you need physical players, so we start looking to the likes of Cummins, Ioani and even shipperly as wingers. this means that some of the “star” players are going to have to sit on the bench if the wallabies want to match the physicality of the lions.

      equally, the lions cannot afford to put all their eggs in the physicality basket, because as we have seen with the welsh (especially roberts) it can be countered, and then you are severely lacking. this is why the lions should look to have talented players around the squad too. i would have people like BOD, Zebo, Kearney (on the bench because Halfpenny would be my 15) and tommy bowe.

      bowe is a great option in my mind, he is a talented footballer, but he is also a big lad too. similarly, i think a dark horse option for the lions could be twelvetrees. as farrell said “he has a flyhalf’s mind in a centre’s body”. he can pass, kick and run and being 6ft3 and 100kg is useful in the centres. plus he is a relatively unknown commodity in Australia.

      my test centres would probably be Tuilagi 12 and BOD 13.

  15. Rhys,

    I think you have the rump of a decent squad there, but I would question your omission of Tom Wood, who has been one of the stand-out back-rowers this tournament. I am not sure of the K Owens at No8? Presumably not the Hooker?

    I think I have said this before but No8 seems to be a bit of an issue as I am not sure that Heaslip or Faletau are in good form. For me, Robshaw remains an option at 8

    • blub, agreed with you that 8 is an issue, maybe rhys has decided ken owens would be a good shout there? ;)

      on a more serious note though, i am disappointed at the form of all 8′s. johnnie beattie may get the chance, as he has looked pretty dangerous.

      but i think that we may see a flanker moving there. i think O’Brien could be a good bet, and agree that Robshaw could do a job. Kelly Brown has also spent a fair bit of time there. the problem is that all of those players seem to have been the form 7′s in the 6Ns so far… i would go for o’brien as my 8, as he is the most destructive with ball in hand. then wood and robshaw with brown on the bench maybe, but purely based on current form.

  16. Ryan Jones is coming back into the form he was displaying before the last Lions tour, has pedigree as a Captain and his natural position is 8, therefore both Captain and No. 8 sorted.

    • i dont recall jones playing 8 for a while. he has lost the dynamism he had of old, and now is more suited to playing 6. he isnt destructive enough of a ball carrier to be considered as the lions 8. i will concede that he could be a contender for captaincy, but that would require him to oust wood/o’brien as the test 6, unless gatland wants to settle with him at 8 (which i doubt, seeing as it hasnt been happening at wales, where gatland is the head coach).

  17. Simo suggest that the form 7′s this year could well cover the 8 spot. Can’t disagree with that, but perhaps this could be seen as a blessing given the perceived wisdom of playing more of a “ground-worker” in Australia.

    Warburton/Tipuric? Or how about Chris Henry – he has always impressed me at Ulster, and i rather suspect that he is on the bench at Ireland more because of the style of Irish play, more than anything else.