Lions name team to face Australia in deciding test

wyn jones
Head coach Warren Gatland has made a huge decision in dropping veteran centre Brian O’Driscoll from the matchday 23. Jamie Roberts partners Jonathan Davies in the centres, while Manu Tuilagi comes onto the bench.

Mike Phillips is back at scrum-half while Conor Murray deputises on the bench, leaving no room in the squad for Ben Youngs. It is a much-changed in the back-row, as well, with Lydiate, O’Brien and Faletau starting and Tipuric on the bench – Croft and Heaslip drop out of the squad.

Alex Corbisiero and Richard Hibbard start in the front row, while Richie Gray is the only Scot in the squad on the bench.

“It all comes down to Saturday – the winner takes all. We know we can leave nothing in the tank and that only a complete performance will get us across the line,” said Gatland.

“Picking this team was not easy and ultimately, with several players available after recovering from injury, the head overruled the heart in many selection decisions.

“Brian O’Driscoll is a great player and has had a wonderful career but for the final Test in Sydney we just felt Jamie Roberts’ presence offered us something more.”

Gatland was the first man to pick O’Driscoll for an international match back in 1999 and he has now become the first one to drop him 14 years later.

“We told him this morning and he was obviously disappointed, as anyone would be. But he appreciated the fact that he was spoken to before the announcement,” said the coach.

“It’s the first time that any coach has had that decision with him in 15 years of rugby. It’s not easy for that to be the first time, but he’s still going to be very important for us for the next 72 hours in terms of his experience and leadership.

“It wasn’t about leadership – it was about picking what we felt was the best team.”

“Alun Wyn gets his opportunity on Saturday. He leads from the front and he’s been outstanding in the lead up games and was one of the first names on the sheet when he picked the team for the first two Tests.”

British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Manu Tuilagi

What do you make of the team?

76 thoughts on “Lions name team to face Australia in deciding test

    1. Exactly my thought process.

      Davies over BOD is my main concern? What is that based on? Form? Status? Potential in the match? Defensive work? Go forward? I’m lost.

      Also, Hibbard over Youngs? Youngs has played better in test matches. In fact, Youngs was the best Lions player in the first test IMO. Hibbard was my first choice hooker coming into the series but I think he has been unimpressive.

      And last but not least, Phillips? He has had a terrible tour, a poor season in Bayonne colours. They have literally gone with – he played well in Cardiff and he’s a big bloke.

      This selection is obviously based on Gatlands game plan and not the best possible game plan based on the form Lions players.

    2. About time too! BOD shouldn’t have been on the tour. Picking people who have proven they can run through/over Aussies at last. However, like everyone in Wales, haven’t been happy with Phillips for years. Let’s hope he is told to move it like he did in his last game in Cardiff. Cuthbert is very unlucky though.

  1. Don’t mind the back line – would have gone for a fit Manu myself over Roberts returning from injury – but what on earth is Mike Phillips doing there? He had a howler in the first test, got injured, and now he’s back from that he’s in the squad? Is he undroppable? Not too sure about Hibbard > Youngs and O’Brien > Tipuric myself either… seems like (with the exception of Parling) Gatland is just going for the biggest guy in each position. No prizes for guessing the gameplan which they’re going to be playing at.

    1. Actually, thinking about it, Roberts is probably there as the leader of the Back line now that O’driscoll isn’t there. I’d say his selection probably makes sense. If he’s having a shocker bring on Manu immediately.

  2. I’m surprised and disappointed at BOD’s omission. He’s had a strong tour, has played at 13 in the last two Tests, and deserves his place, regardless of any sense of romanticism.

    Other than that, it’s a big, powerful team, and I do think it’s a good approach to beating the Wallabies. I’m a Lydiate fan, and think he can offer more at 6, and I would have picked SOB somewhere in the backrow. Hibbard for Youngs is ok too, adding more bulk to the front row.

    The bench also has some impact players that can change the match if needs be – no second chances this time, so you potentially need game-breakers coming on.

    Just hope it doesn’t come back to bite Gatland, because if it all goes wrong, everyone will be pointing at selection – not just for this game, but for the whole tour.

    Come on Lions!

  3. I love Gats. Pressure off for Saturday. Either the Lions will win the test series or Wales will lose it.

    Oh and for the record I disagree with a number of his selections. He’s gone for HIS players over the FORM players.

    Our scrum will do well but the lineout will struggle. But of a shame that he’s picked Parling because he will be the fall guy for the lineout struggles.

    Won’t have quick ball from Phillips and won’t have penetration in midfield unless the Welsh centres can release North through the middle.

    I can now honestly say that I know what it feels to follow the Lions from a Scotsmans perspective. Like someone from the outside looking in!

    1. “Either the Lions will win the test series or Wales will lose it.” Well put. If this team loses on Sat then the knives will be out. Should Gatland be commended for bravery or is he too pig headed? I honestly don’t know – even I’m amazed by this selection. If this team wins then it’ll all be about those non-Welsh players finally getting Wales over the line.

      On the other hand I see a lot of commentators are not waiting until the result to put the boot in – Ian Robertson and Keith Thingy are basically saying Gats is p***ing all over what The Lions means. Hysterical nonsense but I’m sure their view will get a lot of sympathy. I now know what it feels like to have been an Englishman in the 2005 series.

      1. This is what I don’t like about it – not the fact that there are so many players from Wales, but the fact that it reduces people to nationalistic nitpicking.

        Let’s all get behind the LIONS one last time, celebrate together if we win, comiserate together if we lose.

  4. JD has been second best to Brian O’Driscoll at 13 and was, to be frank, woeful last week. Jamie Roberts has similarly offered nothing on tour except the Baa-baas game. BOD on the other hand can do no wrong and gets dropped.

    Every game Hibbard has played Lions have been on the backfoot because of poor lineouts. I just don’t think it’s good enough to say Tom Youngs has been poor in any of his games to warrant Hibbard coming on.

    Don’t see the point in Murray on the bench if Phillips starts. Offers the same thing, though that directness is obviously what Gatland is looking for.

  5. I’ll tell you what he’s done Hutch, he’s lost us the series, and handed it to the Aussies on a plate.
    Ok I can understand bringing in Roberts (I would’ve gone with Tuilagi), but why drop BOD. I know Davies has been out of position at 12, but he’s been totally ineffectual, and Roberts beside BOD is a completely different kettle of fish.
    Can’t see the logic of bringing Phillips back in, unless he’s had a serious kick up the arse, and also can’t see why you wouldn’t have Youngs on the bench instead of Murray. Youngs can rip the defence apart in seconds, and can keep Genia shackled more. I guess with Lydiate playing Phillips has help in that department, and he’ll need it. O’Brien and Faletau make sense, Hibbard for Youngs??????……Tom didn’t have his best game last week, but the lineout wasn’t great full stop, and not really sure he was to blame for most of it. The rest of the back line speaks for itself, but Roberts and Davies against this Aussie back line????, I just can’t see it working. I really hope they prove me wrong, but right now I’m feeling disappointed.

  6. It’s obvious, well to me anyway, what he’s trying to achieve.

    He’s going for total scrum dominance, and impact off the bench. The lineout will suffer with the exclusion of Youngs. He obviously feels that with the best lineout options we’d achieve parity at best.

    Centres have been a problem all tour, regardless of what everyone is saying BOD has been poor, and i agree JD was terrible last week. He’s picked a centre combo who are used to playing together – with Manu benched for the impact he can bring later in the game.

    If it works it works, if it doesnt there’s going to be a quite severe backlash!

  7. I am absolutely gobsmacked at the decision to drop O’Driscoll. Could have started him, and have Jamie Roberts come in off the bench. Starting Roberts for a test decider is a big call. Really don’t think Gatland has got it right this time.

  8. JD was the form ‘attacking’ 13 coming into the test matches with even BOD saying ‘how good JD’ was. I won’t disagree with BOD’s excellent commitment and defensive work but he has made little or no impact in attack this series. Lets not forget the Lions need to win on sat and not defend so I would say JD is the better choice for this as IMO he showed more attacking threat in the warm ups than BOD and with Roberts now fit has earned his shot at 13. Its a bold call but hardly one that is indefensible.

    1. I’m not sure BODs comments on JD are relevant. Warburton was saying how good Croft was, all the players were doing it about it eachother so I think it’s best to take it with a pinch of salt.

      And I also haven’t seen this brilliant JD on tour either? And I’m discounting the non-contests where everyone looked great. BOD has looked much better IMO – I just can’t see how JD is viewed as bringing more to the table on Saturday.

      1. Jacob – while I also would have a partnership that had BOD at outside centre I think you are being a little harsh on JD. He was outstanding against The Waratahs – was that one of the nothing games? I can’t remember which meant something and which didn’t now. That was definitely the best outside centre display all tour. As for BOD himself a few people were already saying drop him, I guess fewer though thought Gats might actually do it…

        1. I know what you mean about whats ones were meaningful – I just haven’t seen enough of him to justify him being over BOD. And to be fair I did only see half the Tahs game then I had to catch my flight out to Australia, so forgive me if he was fantastic there.

          I thought Davies was poor in both the tests – maybe it was because he was at 12, I don’t know. It is certainly a big call.

          The other one for me that I am really disappointed with is Phillips – he was so poor in the first test.

          The rest of the team I can understand – even Lydiate and Hibbard who I would not have played, I can understand the reasoning.

          Ah well come on the Lions!

        2. Also agree with you there Brighty about Davies. In the 13 shirt he’s superb, and I can see him becoming as good as BOD, but at 12, he doesn’t have the same impact, but Gatland should have seen that and changed it for the second test.

        3. Davies has offered nothing against Australia the last 8 times he’s played them.

          Can’t see that changing now…

      2. Agree with you there Jacob, I think BOD was talking in an almost jealous way about Davies, looking at him as a young player, improving all the time, and comparing that to himself. BOD brings much more to the game than just his playing ability. It’s his experience, his game reading ability, and they may not have played together as much, but Roberts and BOD is a much more dangerous combo than Roberts and Davies because of his ability and experience.
        And I feel the reason BOD has made little impact is because Gatland picked Davies at 12. With Tuilagi at 12 BOD would’ve had better ball to play with, but even when fit Gatland refused to give him a shot. And yet suddenly he’s on the bench, and it looks like he’s covering wing and centre??

        1. Yeh I would be very nervous if a winger go injured early on. For me, I’d have had Youngs on the bench as he can cover wing as well – that would then fit Tuilagi on the bench. But he is obviously decided on a game plan which the likes of Youngs and Croft don’t fit into.

  9. I have yet to read any fellow bloggers comments but hooray for common sense and not sentiment.

    1. Common sense?

      Davies doesn’t offer anything in attack and Roberts has just come back from injury.


  10. I’m with the majority in that leaving out BOD isn’t the call I would have made. His tackling has been immense, I read something on the BBC that said he’s made 23 tackles and missed none. Granted he hasn’t been his usual attacking self but then I don’t think any of the back line has been.

    Tom Youngs is massively unlucky to miss out on a starting spot. I thought he had two great test outings and I can’t remember Hibbard playing any where close to a ‘good’ game.

    Phillips was woeful in the first test. Enough said.

    What worries me is that there seems to be little sign of a ‘Plan B’ on the bench. Tuilagi similar player to Roberts and Murray is similar to Phillips. If the ‘power’ game isn’t working then how do we change the game direction?

    As Jonathan Davies (the pundit/commentator) said “It’s a one dimensional side on a one dimensional tour. I’m surprised BOD isn’t even on the bench.”

  11. Changes were needed in the back line as the ball didn’t get to the outside backs on Saturday.

    But frankly, I’m overjoyed that Phillips is halfback. Mowen owned him in the first test.

    The way the Lions play, a centre who could break the line is the right call. Davies must have done enough, despite a pretty ordinary performance last week.

    But 10 Welshmen in the run on side? A lot of ammunition to the critics! Perhaps an acknowledgement that the team hasn’t connected very well?

    1. I think you might be right – the Lions haven’t been greater than the sum of their parts on this tour for whatever reason.

    2. I think the problem now is that the ball might get to the outside backs too quickly and just be thrown across the pitch, and Australia know exactly how to defend that.

  12. Now having seen the team in full for the first time the only picked player I have an issue with is Philips. Would have liked to have seen Murray start, with Youngs on the bench, this apart this is close to the 23 I would have picked.

  13. Whoa! I may hate Gatland with a passion but I have to admire his balls (not in that way).

    Very gutsy. Do we assume 12 welsh would have started if Warbs and Jenkins were fit. If he loses this I cannot imagine the stick he will get.

    1. Benjit. Would you have a problem with Jenkins and Warburton playing if fit? Are they better than Corbs and “any other flanker”? Many of these whinges are based on picking a “quota” team. If 15 Welsh players had a better chance to win it we should pick them. Then support the coaches, whatever the outcome.

  14. Has anyone taken a look at the aussie team has put up?

    Hooper dropped to the bench in favour of Smith, and if i’m not mistaken only 2 backs on the bench? a SH & FB? I’m not sure if it’s been officially announced though? i thought it was tomorrow.

  15. An early injury to one of our back 3 players and it’s game over for the lions.

    Manu’s clearly the wing cover and whilst his pace is under-rated he’ll still be completely exposed by the aussie wingers…

    1. Can’t understand why Tuilagi didn’t play last week, and why he’s on the bench this week. Is Roberts 100% fit?? If not and he has to go off early, we could have serious problems. Any more injuries in the back three and Farrell would have to come into the centre and either Davies or Tuilagi on the wing.

  16. Always thought Gatland was an arse. We should be home and dry already. It’s getting to the stage that I’d rather chew tinfoil with a mouth full of fillings than watch a match with shots of his pug-face in it. Even if we do win he is still an A1 ARSE.

    Kindest regards

  17. Dazza. “With Tuilagi at 12 BOD would’ve had better ball to play with”? Are you seriously suggesting he is a better distributor than Davies? The main problem, even his biggest fans in England admit, is that he doesn’t pass when he’s punched holes in the defence. I’m looking forward to him coming on with us in the lead and then steaming through them. The bench is there to finish them off, not to salvage a game. Come on BRITISH Lions!

    1. Tuilagi is far better at breaking the gainline and has really developed his offloading skills. JD is a better distributor, but Tuilagi is a better foil for BOD.

      I agree with selecting JR & JD, but I think it’s a real shame Tuilagi picked up the knock as his partnership with BOD was showing great promise.

  18. I had the Youngs brothers starting, Philips and Croft on the bench. Same picks elsewhere.

    Firstly the centres. JR & BOD have not looked like a good combination this tour. The best performances from centre combinations have been:
    – JR & JD against the Baa Baas
    – Tuilagi & BOD against the Force
    – JR & JD against the ‘Tahs (this was mostly JD, JR was more meh)

    No other combination has looked particularly effective and JD clearly isn’t best suited to 12. Our only real options this week were therefore MT+BOD or JR+JD. In a huge test I can understand (and agree with) the logic of going for the partnership that has performed the best on tour and one that is also an established test partnership.

    Hibbard, after a shaky start against the Rebels his lineout was excellent, including throwing to the back. Didn’t think Youngs deserved to be dropped, but starting the bigger stronger unit and using the faster more mobile unit as impact has it’s advantages. If he doesn’t throw straight he had better win a penalty at the scrum though!

    Completely agree with the back row, Heaslip was AWOL for most of the second test so Faletau in was the only option at 8. We must also go forward, so SOB’s ball carrying is also essential. There’s a strong case for each of the other 3 flankers for the last shirt, but the trip of Lydiate, SOB and Faletau were an excellent unit against the Rebels.

    Philips, Hmmmm…. well I almost forcibly ejected my coffee when I saw that. How does the worst performance in either of the test matches by a player in red or gold get rewarded with a test start? After a bit of processing/cooling off time I think this selection is about the dual threat of Roberts and Philips. They aren’t going to leave JOC and LLF to mark Roberts, so a back rower is going to move wider, potentially leaving a bit more space for Philips. However if Smith does a ‘Worsley’ on JR and Mowen dominates Philips again we are in big trouble. If Philips isn’t effective we bring on Murray to introduce …. more of the same. Leaving out Youngs from the 23 is the only call I completely disagree with.

    Vunipola, Youngs, Gray & Tuilagi. That’s some serious ball carrying fire power. With the pace of Tipuric to come on as a link man it’s the best impact bench we’ve had. I really hope we don’t pick up a back 3 injury though, Youngs has covered wing for England so a little worried we don’t have that option.

    Come on the LIONS!

  19. I don’t think I will be bothered with this one to be honest, I was hoping for the British & Irish Lions not The Welsh Lions feat. England & Ireland guest starring Richie Gray.

    Gatland has set himself up for a massive fall if the gamble doesn’t pay off, my biggest worry is Phillips at Scrum Half, yes we won the first test but he was owned by Will Genia and I cannot see this changing.

    Just noticed Hibbard is starting and no Ben Youngs on the bench, Jesus Wept…….

    1. Mr B, whate %age of each nation would have made this an acceptable team for you to grace them with your support? I can see the rationale in arguing about specific selections, but your point seems to simply be too many Welsh people?

    2. It will be rather hypocritical if all the Scots are told to “get behind the Lions” but as soon as the number of English in the 23 drops to 7 we all abandon ship.

      1. There are always too many Welsh…. Joke.

        I just don’t think that this is the best team with the players that are left to pick and I think Galtand has gone ‘safe’ and picked the players he knows rather than those who deserve the shirt and recent history suggest that Wales have failed to get the job done on many occasions against Australia, as many have said Gatland has Plan A and Plan B is Plan A with different players.

    3. When the Lions run out they are one team in which nationhood is forgotten and subordinated to the common cause.Mr B just comes across as sour and sceptical which I am sure was not the intention does his support for Ben who by his own admission had a poor game last saturday indicate club allegiance

      1. Jeff – No club allegiance i’m afraid when it comes to the Premiership i’m a neutral, i’m a Coventry RFC fan so would love to see Ben Youngs turn out for us!

        I really think Ben youngs should be the bench scrum halfas he offers something different to Phillips, Murray is to simular.

        You’re right about being sour and sceptical but I have my thoughts on who should be starting, as does everyone, they don’t match Gatlands but then again i’m not a successful International Coach and one of the things I enjoy about this blog is that you can have your opinion, others have theirs and all is well in the world without the need to sling insults!

        1. Well said Mr B. It would be oh so easy to sling insults at these self-appointed coaches and critics who sometimes appear to have about as much rugby brain as a bandicoot. Resect other opinions even when they’re opinions come across as a pile of ‘chite’

  20. Not convinced,I think the best and more importantly fittest fifteen should start. If Phillips and Roberts aren’t 100% then that’s too much of a risk, if they have to go off and we collect other injuries there could be problems.
    10 welsh men in the side? I’m welsh but it should be the best player in that position Tuilagi gets over the line, O’Driscoll has a wealth of experience (and in my view not to be on the bench after the way he has played and service for the Lions in this and past tests lacks respect fro the man) and I would have Cuthbert on the bench. Not just because he is a Blues player but he does score tries.
    Still after all that if the Lions win it was the right team selection.

    Is it me or is anyone suprised that Campese has been so quiet?

  21. Well there’s a surprise! Absolutely amazed BOD has been dropped to me it would’ve made far more sense to play Roberts and BOD but oh well. I like the backrow it has good balance in my view, Phillips has always been a big game player so I back him to play well on Saturday, not sure about starting Hibbard, as we saw in the first test if we have Corbs and Jones outside Youngs we can have a dominant pack and Youngs offers more around the pitch and his thrwoing has been better this tour. Everything else looks good, it’s gonna be one hell of a game.

    1. I agree. I don’t understand why Gatland framed it as a decision between Roberts and BOD, when it should have been between Roberts and Davies.

  22. Simple facts. This is pretty much wales with a sprinkling of other nationalities. Wales have had more chances than any other nation to beat Australia in the last few years and they’ve gotten beaten every time. Why is this going to be different? What a big, unmobile backrow as well. When the springboks took their biggest backrow to play NZ they were ran out of the game. Expect something similar with the only impact sub really being tuiperic. Roberts straight in when he hasn’t played any rugby for a long while is pretty disgusting. I’d feel pretty devastated to find out the guy who’s spent the tour getting massages and physio took my spot after he proved he could run around for a bit. Jonathan Davies somehow in the squad when it was him who was totally shut down in attack last weekend, oh and it was him ashley-cooper exposed to score the try. You can’t play centre at international standard if you don’t trust the bloke defending inside you. That’s exactly what Davies didn’t do. The other marginal calls like tom Young’s dropped along with Ben when other players have been shown buckets of faith hardly speaks volumes for gatlands character. If it backfires there’ll only be one chap to blame.

    1. Oh sir genius, you complain about Roberts not having enough rugby and shouldnt be there and davies not playing well enough. That leaves, hmm, Tuilagi and BoD – who, in order, have played not much rugby and havent been good enough. Or the awful Barrit or the underused Twelvetrees

      Didn’t really think that argument through did you?

      As it happens I would have picked BoD, but I can see the argument for Davies

      1. You slate Barritt but he probably shouldve played in the 2nd test given the game plan. Probably would have stopped AAC

        1. You don’t have to give me compliments.
          I dont really see what you’re getting at. Bod and tuilagi have played more rugby than roberts and Davies hasn’t been lighting it up either. Why write people off with less experience? I’m sure the aus public weren’t writing pocock or Beale when they made their debuts. Just proves that NH selection policy is infinitely more conservative than our southern brothers.

  23. A comment on the Back Rows Balance, in my opinion, there is no balance, simply a smash them up at all costs….

  24. For me the difference between the two teams is decision making. The teams are relatively evenly matched and the scores for both the Lions, and the previous Welsh tests reflect this.

    1st Test. Whose call was it to keep the ball in the scrum, with the scrum taking place within kickable distance for the aussies?

    2nd Test. Why on earth go long on the final lineout, when we had so much success with the short lineout and driving maul earlier in the game?

    2nd Test. Halfpenny final kick. We all knew it was outside his range, why go for it?

    If we look back at the Wales tests, same thing. Game management in the last 5 minutes was generally terrible. Priestland bore the brunt of the blame.

    I think this is where they need to focus their efforts and have clear defined plans of how to close out the tight games.

    I have this horrible feeling that Saturday will be no different. We’ll possibly hold a slight lead going in to the final 10 minutes, with that air of inevitability looming large on the horizon.

    Hope i’m wrong of course and will cheer them on until the end.

  25. For the record, I will be supporting the Lions on Saturday and I hope that we win. I will be cheering if Phillips, Roberts, JD, Lydiate or Hibbard score. It’s just that I don’t agree with the selection of any of them.

    If the Lions win, I am prepared to go on record and say well done Gatland, the reason that you got picked to coach the Lions and not me was because you knew what you were doing and I’m just an armchair critic.

    However if the Lions lose, I have put my head above the parapet before the game, and that way I can’t be accused of being wise after the game.

    What really really really hacks me off though is the fact that the English can be accused of arrogance, and particularly in reference to Lions selection under Woodward, but if that gets turned around to Wales, the English are the ones being accused of sour grapes. Can’t have it both ways. Brighty I do acknowledge what you have already said about that point in your defence.

    Anyway as stated, I will be behind the Lions, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking that Gatland has got his selection wrong and that he has shown a ridiculous level of Welsh bias in doing so. That is my opinion. The basis for this comment comes from the fact that I believe that he has selected 5 Welshmen when there are better players of other nationalities available. This comes from his familiarity with them, but it comes from his familiarity with them as they are welsh players and therefore it is due to the fact that they are welsh. Woodward fell into the same trap with English players.

    As stated by Brighty before the squad was picked, I hope next time they pick a non national coach, so that this familiarity with the players does not cloud judgement.

  26. Also just for the record, don’t agree with all of the talk that just because Wales can’t beat Australia means the Lions with a strong Welsh contingent won’t. Different circumstances.

    Also completely fed up with the Phillips is a big game player nonsense. Well the first test was a pretty big game and he was rubbish. He wasn’t too good through most of the 6N either and surely they’re big games. So please give that one a rest.

    1. The way the last two tests have gone have been almost deja vu of the last 6 times Wales have played Australia. We were very lucky Beale missed that kick. If Lealiafano had been playing the whole game they probably would have won that.

  27. The props are the obvious ones. no problems there. same for the bench.

    Hibbard has clearly been called in for the scrum. when he came on he helped Mako a lot. combine this with Corbs back at 1, and we SHOULD be seeing the aussies walking back at every scrum. not to mention its an NH ref for the test. we are going for scrum annihilation, and the lineout will be a throw and hope affair (slight exaggeration, but you get my point). youngs will play the “impact role” and i hope he does it well, he can provide good dynamism.

    The best choices available at lock. Richie provides the biggest impact from the bench too.

    SOB and Faletau have deserved this chance. with Warbs being out, and Heaslip not doing anything special, it was time to see if these two could do the job. Lydiate needs a big game in my mind, as i dont think he did much in the 2nd test. i would hope he has been tasked with pulling Mowen into every single ruck, to create room for Phillips. Tips or Croft will bring the biggest X-Factor, and i think the lack of a genuine 7 starting won Tips that battle for the bench spot. i would hope he comes on for Lydiate, as that will be a hugely effective attacking backrow. but i would expect we will see SOB or Faletau coming off.

    and on that note, Phillips’ selection… i hope that he wasnt “injured” and it was a rocket that he needed. if he gets man handled or walks/jogs while genia runs past him then they had best haul him off, because if he delivers anything like his 1st test performance then he will lose us the series. the first match was won in spite of his performance (and i use the term won loosely, as we all know the game was actually lost by the wallabies). I would have gone with Youngs as bench 9 over Murray. The wallabies wont play any differently when Murray comes on.

    Sexton was the obvious option at 10, but he does need a better game than last week. losing BOD will not help him. Time for him to strike up a nice partnership with Roberts, they are going to be playing at Racing together anyway. Will we actually see Farrell get a lions cap? if the game is tight, probably not. i think the fact that we havent seen him shows that Gats clearly views there to be no 10 close to sexton in the B&I isles.

    Roberts will be a genius selection if he lives up to the “big game player” tag that he seems to have earned himself. he has done nothing special so far this tour (exclude Baa Baas).
    Davies over BOD is a big call. this does seem like a “familiarity” call, helping Roberts. I probably would have gone with BOD. and if i didnt go with BOD, then i would have chosen Manu. if you really want to shake the wallabies up, then Roberts and Manu would do that. I hope we see Manu get 30mins at 13 with Jamie. not going to create a huge deal, but can the wallabies actually deal with that physicality? especially when you bring Bowe and North off the wings.

    The wings are the correct ones. no doubt, as if Halfpenny at 15. i hope none pick up a knock, as Manu should be covering the centres, not the wing…

  28. Hard to see how bod got dropped from the squad based on his last preformance. Clearly was the lack of good set piece ball to attack from and a lack off creative idea’s (game plan from the coach) appart from send our big men up the midle. It was the combination of bod and jd that was bad. Hard to be to hard on jd (alto i do think he was poor enough) because he was playing out of position sure he has played alot of rugby at 12 but at the highest level of internation rugby hes not comfortable enough hes a good outside centre and was gats fault for bringing 3 outside centres and 1 inside centre who got injured.

    Anyway to finish my point im my opion jr had to come straight back in as he is the reconized internation 12 we have and then it was a shoot out between jd bod and tuilagi for 13. Tuilage cant play 13 if jr plays at 12 to one demensional so it was between jd and bod. Nether played well in attack but bod was far better in defence highest tackler in the backs not to mention the two turnovers he should of had in the 1st test not even to mention he is a lead played with jr and been on 3 previous tour’s. Pure madness if you ask me hope it works out. Good backrow two good carriers there is sob doesnt get into a battle with smith at the brakedown. Probaly would have liked him better at 6 with tipiric at 7 but overall happy enough with that.

    1. Karl I know what you are saying about the centres but just about the best performance we’ve seen from a centre pairing so far was Tuilagi at 12 and BoD at 13.

      1. Staggy i agree with you that tuilagi and bod was the best pairing we have seen so far but the reason i wouldnt pick tuilagi at 12 is because its the last test there is no more chances so tuilagi would have to click and preform to a high level quickly in an unfamiliar position. If gat had thought things through a bit better he could have had tuilagi on the bench last week and given him and bod 20/25 mins toghter at the end of the match and based on that we would of had a better idea. I agree though if they had enough time to play together they could realy be somthing special. Just would rather play it safe with roberts as we know he can get the job done for use on the they thats all

  29. Perhaps it is worth looking at the selection options they had. Most people would agree that Halfpenny, North, and Sexton would be certs and that Roberts was bound to come back in if fit. Bowe is a good player and Cuthbert is unlucky so the decisions in the backs were about Centre and scrum half. Unless Youngs dominated which he didn’t Phillips was likely to come back in so it was between BOD and Davies and my view would be that Davies has been the better player on tour. In the forwards no arguments about props and the second rows were bound to be AWJ plus 1. Parling just hangs on! At hooker he has gone for the extra power to start which may be OK if Hibbard throws OK. Back row I felt Lydiatte tackled like a monster in the second test and O’Brien has been waiting in the wings for a starting chance. Faletau and Heaslip has been a fifty fifty call every time so Faletau deserves a chance as Heaslip didn’t have his best game. So all in all I agree with the selections. What amazes me is the press outcry !

    1. Well put.

      “Lions legend dropped for first time in 15 year career” and “record numbers of Welsh players picked by Welsh coach” make far better/easier sensationalist headlines than working through the team and deciding if each man deservers the shirt or not.

  30. Gatland is a complete and utter muppet and isn’t capable of picking his nose! This selection goes to show that he is ignorant and thick and should never have been given this job!

    To leave BOD out is disgraceful! Check out some of the reaction here:

    To include Mike Phillips is a joke, especially after Phillips made no effort to run down Genia in the first test.

    Lydiate ahead of Croft??
    Hibbard ahead of Youngs??
    Tuilagi as back 3 replacement??
    To ignore the leadership of Heaslip and BOD?

    Gatland clearly has no clue as to what his strongest 15 is.
    He moved away from the winning 1st test 15 and is still experimenting with selection after weeks of matches.

    10 Wales players! That is ridiculous!

    I agree with Keith Wood’s sentiment that Gatland has pissed all over the Lions tradition of playing the best rugby with the creme de le creme of the players available from the 4 nations.
    This is not a Lions team. Its bullshit!

    This tour has just fallen apart and its all because of a pig headed coach who should never have got the job in the first place!

    Gatland you muppet u have just handed the series to Australia!

    1. We can’t have it both ways, before the tour the consensus seemed to be (in the media) it didn’t matter how we won as long as the lions won a series.

      Yes if we do win we will have to suffer smug Welsh fans telling us all how the British and Irish Dragons won a series for 4 years. But I’ll still gladly take that.

      1. Matt, I’m welsh and I don’t think you would get the welsh fans being smug. It’s all about the BRITISH Lions. The welsh know their rugby, and yes when we won the championship against england we crowed a bit but it was a hell of a performance and if the boot was on the other foot we (the welsh) would have never heard the end of it. But this is about the Lions so if it was 10 english, scots or irish if the serires was won then all british rugby fans would be happy. Personally I would have played BOD and Davies with Tuialgi & Roberts (if fully fit) on the bench, with BOD as captain.

  31. On a more inspiring note, there was talk today (fantasy mainly) of a Southern Hemisphere equivalent – imagine these two best of the hemisphere teams colliding:

    Beale; Ioane; Smith; SBW; Savea; Carter; Genia; Read; Pocock; Lobbe; Horwill; Etzebeth; Franks; Du Plessis; Tonga’uia – Johnson; Strauss; Crockett; Whitelock; Higginbotham; Weepu; Cruden; O’Connor

    Halfpenny; Bowe; Tuilagi; Fofana; North; Sexton; Parra; Picamoles; Dusautoir; Croft; POC; AWJ; Jones; Hartley; Domingo
    – Corbs; Cole; Youngs; Gorgodze; SOB; Youngs; Farrell; Rougerie

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