Lions name team to face Australia in second test

lionsHead coach Warren Gatland has made five changes ahead of Saturday’s pivotal second test.

“We are one Test to nil up and have a wonderful chance to win our first series since 1997. Sixteen years is a long time to wait for a series win. We were very close in 2009 and the whole squad is firmly focused on victory this weekend,” said British & Irish Lions Tour Manager Andy Irvine.

“The Wallabies are always a tough proposition at home and showed in 2001, after losing the 1st Test, that they are capable of coming from behind in a series. We will not underestimate them and will be prepared.”

Head Coach Warren Gatland said he was “confident” his team would improve on their performance in the first Test.

“Several players have put their hands up this week and have forced their way into the Test side while several players have returned to fitness,” explained Gatland.

“That is typical of Lions tours. We want players to constantly push for selection, we then select who is on form and who is available. Based on that we have selected a squad that is capable of winning the Test and securing the series.”

British and Irish Lions: :15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O’Driscoll, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Makovina Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Alex Cuthbert.

26 thoughts on “Lions name team to face Australia in second test

  1. So no Tuilagi, but Cuthbert’s on the bench to cover………………wing? Who covers FB if Halfpenny gets injured???? Would much rather see Zebo or Maitland on the bench, both have a better rugby brain than Cuthbert. Tuilagi could even cover centre and wing, but Cuthbert in the centre or at FB would make me very nervous!!

    Nice to see our thoughts about Phillips have been shared with the Lions coaches, and that Youngs is in. What a proud day for the Youngs family!! Also thought Murray had a good game on Tuesday, and I think he deserves his chance on the bench.

    Forwards changes all make sense to me, but Croft as lock cover??, not sure about that. O’Brien should provide some impact off the bench whoever he comes on for.

    All that said it still a team I think will be good enough to beat the Aussies. COME ON YOU LIONS!!!!!!!

    1. “both have a better rugby brain than Cuthbert” yet both have a lower win rate and scoring rate than him in international matches… This “rugby brain” thing is interesting though, probably more useful than scoring tries?

      Maitland is woeful; if Cuthbert’s main problem is his defence then to pick Maitland ahead of him would be a travesty.

      1. As for cover – Bowe and/or North will be moved to centre if needed for Cuthbert to come on. (so in effect Cuthbert is there for wing and centre injuries). Both North and Bowe are comfortable in the centres – I’d rather see them in the centre than Tuilagi on the wing. Tuilagi is unlucky not to get into the match day side but I can’t see who I would drop to get him in.

        Farrel is covering FB and kicking.

        1. I take you’re point about Cuthbert and scoring tries, but I just think that Zebo or Maitland would offer more from the bench.

          A bit harsh but I would’ve dropped Davies for Tuilagi, purely on what Tuilagi can offer in attack that Davies can’t. I like Davies, he’s a very intelligent player, very aware of the space around him, but he doesn’t get over the gain line the way that Tuilagi can. If Roberts is fit for the third test, and Davies gets dropped that would be very harsh on Tuilagi.

          Also don’t like the thought of Farrell covering FB. I can’t ever remember seeing him play at FB, and it would be a worry for me. I thought possibly move BOD to FB, where he’s played previously for the Lions, and have North and Davies in the centres?

          1. Kearney, Cuthbert, Zebo, Maitland, Hogg & Tuilagi. We are stacked full of options for the 23 shirt.

            If we are looking for injury cover then Maitland & Hogg are probably the best options.

            If we are looking for experience and safety you look to Kearney

            If we are 4-6 points behind with 15 to go then it’s Cuthbert, Zebo or Tuilagi.

            Although with Sexton, Farrell, North & Bowe all providing centre cover Tuilagi seems a bonkers option I would have still gone with him as:
            – The midfield is where we can make the biggest holes
            – Tuilagi has an exceptional strike rate (almost as high as Cuthbert) but is also a try creator. By numbers he’s the most likely to create or finish an opportunity.
            – Youngs has covered wing for England (though I admit it’s not an ideal option) and Bowe provides the FB cover.

            Cuthbert is hardly a bad option, someone who is playing in the same side as North at the same time and scoring more tries than him must be doing something right. It’s just the most difficult of the selection decision as there are 6 credible options you can make a case for.

        2. Agree with comments about wings will cover centre. I think I heard that Bowe will be the cover for FB though. I would probably prefer he drop back than Farrell at 15.

          Would probably also prefer sexton at 15. He is quick and pretty athletic, so good under a high ball. Having said that, his defence for Folau’s 2nd try wouldn’t fill you with too much confidence. I would expect Halfpenny to be protected as much as possible (like the first test) so don’t expect him joining the line too often.

          I agree with Dazza on Xebo and Maitland having better rugby brains. BUT Cuthbert definitely has the finishers instinct. They are more rounded “footballers” while Cuthbert is an out and out finishing winger. Personally I don’t mind him on the bench, the try he scored was quality. But Bowe is a more complete winger, so glad me made it in.

      2. Brighty: Maitland woeful??? Based on what? One game in which he missed a try-saving tackle (if you watch it again, you’ll see Wade actually got in the way of M making the tackle!) in a team that missed an awful lot of tackles? Did you bother to watch him score the try in the Rebels game? Took the ball from Tuilagi, ran 30m…Faletau gets it (slips – wrong shoes?) and Maitland takes the final pass and scores. A cracking try. But hey, Maitland’s woeful by your reckoning! One-eyed or what?

  2. Great looking team. Feel a little sorry for Cuthbert given his winning try but no doubt that a firing Bowe is a better player. At least Cuthbert doesn’t have the ignominy of seeing Maitland ahead of him on the bench.

    On the BBC they reported that Phillips has missed training due to a knee injury that apparently also affected him last week – worrying that he was playing at all last week if he was affected by that. Gatland has indicated that they are resting him for the final test but I’m not sure if that’s some politicking.

    Good to see Lydiate in there after an excellent defensive display on Tuesday night. As many people have rightly pointed out Mowen only had to worry about Sam last Wed so was having a field day around the fringes. Lydiate will sort that out.

    Fale is very unlucky, excellent display on Tuesday.

    If Farrel can play like he did on Tuesday, like an actual playmaker, and apparently all it took was for people to tell him to play like that, then it’s a damning indictment of Eng and Saracens coaches? I’m much more comfortable if he has to come on now.

    1. Absolutely, it was amazing when he said afterwards in his post match interview, this is how I play naturally, his other coaches really need to take a look at themselves because that’s the best I’ve ever seen him play.

      1. It does seem a bit weird. England and Sarries have players like Flood and Hodgson (and more recently Burns), who do play more or less in the way that Farrell claims is his natural style.

        I can’t believe the coaches tell Hodgson or Flood to play one way but then force Farrell to play another

  3. I’m loving this side the only thing im a bit concerned about is the scrum, Mako and Tom will need to be on top form, Jones will be vital up there, don’t see why we need Croft if we have O’Brien? Bit of an insult to Gray and Evans, I like the Lydiate inclusion, I think O’Brien is a better 6 but Lydiate is the man to nullify Genia and he will help lift Warbs performance. Youngs will hopefully get a good platform and get the ball to Sexton quickly unlike Phillips last week, I presume this injury is just political as Brighty said, then again it could somewhat explain his complete lack of effort at getting back at Genia for the 1st try? Happy to see Bowe back, not only brilliant in attack but he’s also the best defensive winger we have, and his Gaelic background means he’s also great under the highball, it would’ve been harsh on Cuthbert to leave him out all together but it seems he’s on the bench purely so it doesn’t knock his confidence? surely Zebo or Hogg would’ve made far more sense. Hopefully JD and BOD will have clicked in training and that we can actually compete for the ball in the tackle area!

  4. Picking through the changes:

    VunipolaGood decision. This front row unit has had all week to prepare together, putting Grant in (who must have spent most of the time focussing on recovery since Tues) means starting with a unit that have hardly trained together. The replacement front row unit are then the 3 that played together effectively on Tues.

    ParlingGood decision, the only other option as a lineout caller, probably strengthens the lineout and I hope he will go after the Wallaby ball.

    LydiateGood decision, although I would have sacrificed Heaslip to bring in Faletau I don’t think this is a bad option either as i) Faletau had to go the full 80 on Tues and ii) Heaslip had a better game than Croft. Bringing in Lydiate means 8-10 more back row tackles will be made, and they will be harder/more destructive tackles that create turn over opportunities. Given the Wallabies are going to come hard in a do or die game I think it’s important we increased the physicality of the back row (especially with the loss of POC in the tight 5)

    Youngs Good decision. Philips spent all his time in reverse whilst trying to figure out what brand of deodorant Mowen uses. Coupled with that he was slow to rucks, kicked abysmally and gave up chasing Genaia for the first try.

    Bowe Good decision. Slightly risky, maybe they should have given him 20 off the bench on Tues. Has however looked world class on tour thus far so think this strengthens the side.

    Croft & O’Brien Poor decision. This sounds like they have talked for hours in a selection meeting over the merits of each and somehow convinced themselves that going for both is a good idea. I guess Lydiate will move up to scrum in the second row if required, with Croft to add to the lineout. Don’t see that this is a better option than having Evans or Gray on the bench though.

    Cuthbert Questionable decision. Seems to be a “he had a good game last week, so doesn’t deserve to drop out completely” decision rather than a “who is the best guy to put in the 23 shirt?” decision.

    Murray Questionable decision. If Mikey is fit I would have still picked him on the bench for a bit more of an impact than Murray, though I can’t argue against Philips being the 3rd best scrum half on recent form.

    So I think it’s good decisions for the starting XV, the bench being much more debatable.

    1. Croft came through Tigers academy as a second row and occassionally moves there as needed. I still don’t think it’s an ideal option, but I suspect that’s the plan.

      I’m still concerned on Lydiate. He had a good game the other day against the rebels, but was woeful when he came up against a real opposition in the Reds. I still personally think it’s a little risky given that Croft played last week and didn’t do anything wrong. It’s the known quantity versus the potential. Maitland played really well against the Rebels too, no one is about to call him up though.

      A good coach needs to analyse the game and look at where there were failings. Was there a problem in the backrow? no, why change it? Was there a problem in the centres? the centre partnership did not link up very well or cross the gainline very effectively, yet the same partnership is selected again. Scrum half was identified as an issue and has been changed. Cuthbert was identified as a weakness and has been dropped too, but Zebo has surely been spotted as the obvious bencher with much better attacking prowess. I know prop and second row injuries needed solving

      1. Wookie – it’s not universally accepted that there wasn’t a problem in the backrow. There is a shared opinion (and I can give links in case you think it’s just me) that it wasn’t combative enough, that the Aussie backrow had free rein around the fringes as they only had Sam to worry about. Even before the game people were questioning whether a free running Croft together with a free running Heaslip is the right balance.

        This led to other aspects of the game being poor e.g. Phillips getting scragged a lot which then led to him picking and going more often (I am not completely excusing his laboured performance here, but I do think it was a factor). Also Sam was putting in the initial tackles a lot more rather than being high enough to get in for the jackle.

        As has been said above the Aussies will be busting to further their physical impact here, having Lydiate put in behind-the-gainline tackles will stamp right on them at a part of their strength.

      2. Appreciate that Croft has spent some time locking, just speculation on my part that Lydiate, being the heavier and stronger man, may be the one who can exert the greater force in the scrum. Not that I’m particularly thrilled with the idea of either going there.

        The most dominant backrow player last week was Mowen, so although Croft didn’t have a bad game I don’t agree there isn’t a problem that needs solving. It is also about a unit and Lydiate does also help bring out the best of Warburton.

        Agree the centres were hardly symbiotic. For a new combination I thought Sexton, Tuilagi & BOD struck up the best relationship and Tuilagi is unfortunate to be missing out. However Sexton, JD and BOD have now had another week together as a unit so I can understand the logic for letting that relationship develop rather than making a late change for someone who played on Tues and would hardly get any time together with the Sat team.

        We can’t deny that Cuthbert scores a lot of tries (and some really good ones in big games as well!). I wouldn’t have been sobbing into my cereal to wake up and find Zebo (or Tuilagi) had been selected but don’t see that someone as prolific as Cuthbert is a bad option.

  5. Love the team,

    I suppose they are waiting for the aussies to come out firing, I like Lydaite there, of course huge impact from the bench we could switch our 2 flankers out and get to the breakdown first as they are fresh.


    Cuthbert should not be on the bench I assume they will use Bowe as cover for 15 but I would prefer Tuilagi for impact.


    Our secondrow is a little light and that will have an effect on the scrum, although the frontrow will get the blame, if croft is considered secondrow cover it will only get lighter if someone gets hurt.

    Gray and Yuilagi on the bench apart from that it is fine.

  6. A lot of well reasoned comments. Phillips had a poor game, telegraphed what he was going to do, kicked poorlly and was nulified. I would have started with Cuthbert and had Bowe on the bench but its a marginal call. I would have brought in Faletau, his performances have been faultless, top carrier, top tackle maker and he doesnt seem to tire. I dont think it was Mako that had a problem when he came on, all the problems were on Coles side of the scrum, stud length problem maybe? My concern is the subs bench, a difficult one but the lack of second row cover is worrying. Looking at the team dispassionately O’brien, Faletau and Lydiate is the best back row on form and the captain issue has compromised selecting the best available pack.

  7. Problem last week with the backrow combination and the centre combination. Can’t understand why only one has been changed.

    Lydiate is very lucky. He is the third best 6 on tour but the balance was wrong last week and he may provide that. Very much a pick to allow Warburton to play. He’d better deliver the game of his life now.

    Phillips having a rest. Please. Gats can’t admit he picked wrongly last week. Still would have had him on the bench though.

    Wouldn’t have had Croft or Cuthbert on the bench. Pick a lock as the lock replacement. He’s already made a mess of Hoggs tour, lets hope he doesn’t ruin Crofts as well.

    If Gats brings back Roberts next week it will be a crime against Tuilagi.

    Also very worried if Halfpenny or AWJ get injured. Bowe is cover for FB but there have to be concerns about his injury. No other reason for Cuthbert being on the bench. The aussies realised last week that playing half fit players wasn’t a good idea. No cover for AWJ at all, if he goes, we’re going to look very lightweight in the tight 5. You can bet your bottom dollar the aussies will pick on these two!

    1. My malevolent inner self hopes that after we win tomorrow …. we then pick Roberts & Tuilagi next week and smash them off the park for a physically humbling whitewash.

      1. I like you’re thinking Matt. If we win Saturday, then next week give BOD, Davies and Cuthbert a rest and start with Roberts and Tuialgi in the centres with Zebo and Bowe on the wings and North on the bench as cover.

  8. Much prefer Lydiate starting than on the bench. Genia bossed things last week in a way he won’t be able to with Lydiate chopping his legs out from beneath him. Likewise, Mowen will find it a very different game

    Cuthbert unlucky to be dropped but lucky to be chosen on the bench.

    Bench looks superb in terms of impact but imagine how much more it would offer if Tuilagi was there.

    Just cannot understand having a player like Tuilagi and not using him. He’s probably the most destructive back in the northern hemisphere and there is no doubt that the Aussies would worry about facing him. He sucks in multiple defenders whether or not the ball is passed to him and opens up holes across the field. Just imagine North or Bowe carving open the space around a Tuilagi dummy run (if its disguised well. Add that to SOB blasting holes in the defence – really give meaning tothe idea of impact subs

    BTW – Maitland is not even close to the level of Cuthbert and does not deserve to be on the bench ahead of him. Zebo might be a different matter, but I’d have still gone for Tuilagi over all of them

  9. My only real concern is having two back-rows on the bench. Really should have been Grey or Evans. Lions by 3 scores two in the last 7 minutes with O’Brien and Croft running at tied 2nd choice backs.

  10. I’m assuming the loss of O’connell has played a part in the Lydiate decision – Parling is a hard worker, a good carrier and an expert in the line-out, but he isn’t a hard nut enforcer type.

  11. Alot of good calls here great to see youngs in at 9 had to happen to send the right message out. Also this will mean that the aussies will hav to tweak their defensive plan slightly now whitch is a good thing because they got it spot on with philps.

    Tommy bowe is surely better than cuttberth but i would be realy worried about his fitness did he not fracture his hand less than 2 weeks ago? Still if he is fit this is good for use lets keep an eye on him in the opening exchanges.

    Cuthbert probaly wouldnt make the bench if you were going out to pick a bench with the most impact tuilagi would have to be in there and cuthbert probaly would loss out for me. Although i think gat feals he ows it to stick with him.

    Very interesting in the backrow with lydiate coming in will no doubt bring out the best in warburton and expect a big game for warburton at the breakdown if the ref allows it. Will we be regreting it if the 1st lineout or two dont go well??. One thing is for sure lydiate wont be shy to get stuck in have no doubth he make a big impact and the aussies will surly no he is there. Make sure and check his stats at the end. Good to see o brien on the bench clearly the best option on the bench big impact when he comes on.

    The 2nd row cover is were i get abit worried if we had an early injury that would weaken use greatly in this area and realy leave us bare in the lineout department. Heard somone say it all most seem and insult to grey and evans to have a back row picked ahead of the them and have to agree i think gat probaly just couldnt justify dropping croft so this is his way of making it easier for himself. Although if things did go well and no injurys having croft on the bench is a big advantage. Stating the obvious but if things go well this will be a great idea but if they go bad gat will surly be slated for this call.

    Dont be surpised if faletau starts in the last test regardless of the outcome at the weekend might of been considered had he not played 80mins on tues class player!

    If every1 stays fit and we dont get any major injurys early on think this team will beat the aussies itl be tight and we will just about pull away in the last 10mis with the impact off the bench lions to win by 10.

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