Lions name team to face the Reds

Warren Gatland has announced his team to take on the Reds this Saturday. Tour captain Sam Warburton gets his first start in an all-Welsh back row that also includes Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau.

Manu Tuilagi starts his second game in four days, shifting to outside centre with Jonathan Davies inside him. Tommy Bowe continues on one wing, with brace-scorer from Hong Kong Alex Cuthbert coming onto the other flank and Stuart Hogg reinstated at fullback. English duo Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell are the halfbacks, while Geoff Parling is handed his first start alongside Richie Gray in the engine room. Gething Jenkins and Tom Youngs also start for the first time in the front row, alongside Matt Stevens.

15. S Hogg
14. A Cuthbert
13. M Tuilagi
12. J Davies
11. T Bowe
10. O Farrell
9. B Youngs

1. G Jenkins
2. T Youngs
3. M Stevens
4. R Gray
5. G Parling
6. D Lydiate
7. S Warburton (c)
8. T Faletau

Replacements: R Hibbard, M Vunipola, A Jones, P O’Connell, J Tipuric, C Murray, J Sexton, G North

What do you make of the team? Which players/combos are you looking forward to seeing?

31 thoughts on “Lions name team to face the Reds

  1. Shuffling his centre options again I see. Will be interesting to see how the Youngs/Farrell axis works in Lions colours, Farrell was atrocious in the first game, but when he came on against the Force his positioning and passing was actually pretty good, and he got flat for his try.

    Shame Kearney hasn’t had his outing at FB. I guess he will be involved on Tuesday’s game.

  2. Interesting in the centres again, exciting pairing. Or is this just reading Gatland to try Roberts and BOD in the next game?

    Other than that picked itself. Everyone that hasn’t started yet now starts. Players pretty much swapped from the last game.

    Is there an update on Kearney’s injury? He is obviously still not fit, when is he back?

    1. I rather suspect that Gatland really doesn’t know his best Centre pairing, so is looking at all possibilities and combinations.

      Across the two games thus far, all players have done well and I would go as far as to say, we have seen better centre play in these two matches than we saw in the whole of the 6 nations – flashes from Luke Marshall, Billy Twelvetrees and french Wesley excepted.

      This is not a criticism of selection by the way, just an ironic observation.

    2. Think you are right and Gatland wants to see the BOD and Roberts reunion next week. Given there is nothing more Gatland has to learn about a JD and Roberts combo one of the midweek players was going to have to back up and it wasn’t going to be the 34 year old.

      The pressure on Warburton to find a good personal performance, in addition to the captaincy, worries me a bit.

      Hopefully Jenkins comes through unscathed as well, Vunipola has played 110 mins in 5 days, 55 of which in a sauna and a long haul flight in between. Would be concerned over the workload if Jenkins doesn’t last the majority of the game.

      Lydiate needs to step up, but there should be a lot more for him to tackle in this game.

      As Dingo Deans want Cooper to take more contact let’s hope Manu gives him the opportunity! Can’t say I watch a lot of the Reds, but whenever Cooper goes well it seems to be with Genia inside, so not sure how he will fare. Do worry he’s going to make Farrell look flat footed though.

      1. I aslo expect Farrell to put serious pressure on Cooper, and we all know he doesn’t like that. Farrell is very good at upsetting the opposite 10, just hope he keeps his own cool while Cooper loses his!
        Stevens needs to prove his worth. After a good display off the bench yesterday I expect to see him making lots of tackles and proving himself at scrum time. Can also be very effective at the breakdown and win turnovers.

        1. When has Farrel shown this ability to upset the oppo 10s? I’m not trolling, genuinely curious as I can’t remember him doing it in games ie watched.

          1. Brighty he is actually very good at that. He just needs to control it. He can put some huge hits it. I am not a Farrell fan but this is something that he can do very well. The only trouble is, if he gets too up for it, it goes too far.

            A good comparison to this would the the last two French 6N matches. In 2012, he smashed Trinh-Duc a couple times early on and he fell out of the game. This year he got petulant in his attempts to do the same thing. It will be a delicate balance.

          2. Jacob, I see what you mean now. My problem with that is that you rarely see FHs able to do both that and be playmakers. My fave FHs are playmakers – Carter, Giteau, Barnes, of the current crop. Sexton is also in that mode. I worry about FHs lauded for their ability to put in hits as to me that usually indicates that is their best attribute and isn’t, imo, what we need.

          3. Absolutely agree with that Brighty. We have flankers to put pressure on fly halfs – our fly half should be getting our back line moving. But it certainly is something that Farrell offers.

          4. i agree with both.

            dont get me wrong, i like a 10 who can go out there and tackle anything down his channel. i also like a 10 who can put a hit on his opposite number and cause them to go a bit shaky. but ultimately a 10’s primary job is to get the backline moving.

            other players can kick (halfpenny proved that). and other players can get in the opposition 10’s face.

            Farrell needs to focus on getting the ball in the right parts of the field, and then unleashing the firepower outside of him. unlike playing for england, he has threats in every single shirt outside him, so he needs to start using them.

            at the moment Sexton has proven that he is still miles above Farrell for the test shirt.

            sure, Farrell looked better this week, but i would say most professional 10s could come on and play with a smile on their face when you are 50ish points up. the real test is if he can come on and close a tight game out.

        2. Hope he manages to do build on what he did on Weds, great line speed, aggressive tackles and concentrate on his own game.

          On the biggest occasions, when the opposition are getting into him (which I’m sure the Reds will aim to do physically and verbally) he’s most prone to acting like a tool. I’m sure he’s going to be given the “opportunity” to do so again, time in the bin or another meltdown and this becomes a losable fixture.

    3. From the BBC on Kearney

      ” There was a more positive bulletin on their Leinster and Ireland team-mate Rob Kearney, who is battling to recover from a grade two hamstring tear.

      Kearney, 27, is making good progress and looks set to return to full training early next week. He could then be in contention for either next Tuesday’s match, against a Queensland-New South Wales Country combination, or the following Saturday against the New South Wales Waratahs. “

      1. Cheers Brighty, that’s good news.

        And agreed on the quality of centre play as well. It is really good to see, but must be remembered that the quality of opposition was low.

        I’m really interested to see how this pairing goes,and then compared to what I assume will be Roberts and BOD in the week.

        Tuilagi has shown a bit of his offloading and passing skills; on Saturday I want to see just a little more of him smashing into people with ball in hand.

      2. Unless they made a mistake, it was a grade 1 tear last time I checked. Hopefully it isn’t grade 2! Or we probably won’t be seeing him soon!

  3. Pretty much as expected,trying combinations. But as for no 3 may I refer you all to YouTube Hitler reacts to lions squad

  4. A good looking team in terms of trying to see what the test squad could be – Jenkins, Farrel/Youngs (I see them as a pair, either both will start or neither will), Youngs in the front row and finally, and crucially, Warburton. As said above, the pressure is really on him to put in an excellent performance as both of the 7s so far have looked very good against weak opposition.

    1. Not sure I see Youngs and Farrell as a pair. They actually haven’t played together that many times. No reason why Youngs couldn’t work with Sexton – in fact I would like to see that at one point.

      Mind you, I do expect to see them both on the bench some the first test.

    2. One would imagine that being paired (tripled?) with Faletau and Lydiate will give him a very good opportunity to find his A game.

      I do have a concern about Kearney though – despite the optimistic update. Hamstrings rarely mend quickly, even the top pro’s with the top medical teams. I hope that I am wrong but i do fear for his tour…

    3. On the assumption Youngs (B) plays well I would like to see him given a chance with Sexton before deciding which combo goes best. Think someone with a bit more speed of foot and pass from the base of the scrum/ruck may work well with Sexton and give him a little more time to do what he does best. Agree with you that Youngs/Farrell and Philips/Sexton are the most likely pairings but Youngs/Sexton is worth a look.

  5. i am glad that we are seeing Manu at 13 and JD2 at 12. I think both had really good games in the other shirt, but it will be interesting to see them this way round.
    I do think it is partly do Gats can have a look at BOD and Roberts again, but even so, its nice to see these two get a run, and swapping shirts.

    Warburton needs a huge game. i think he should let POC help him with the leadership, that way he can focus on himself. having POC will let him ease into the captaincy as well, which should take the pressure off.

    keen to finally get a good look at jenkins. he needs to have a good game, because with Healy potentially out (injured or even banned) the test shirt could be his for the taking. Mako has been great, but he is still lacking a bit in the scrummaging. I think Jenkins is the strongest of the 3 original LH at scrummaging, but also good in open play.

    for me the Looseheads are quite strange. the better they are in open play, the poorer they are in the scrum.
    Vunipola, Healy, Jenkins, Corbisero.

    would like to see Corbs get a go against the NSW-QLD joint team.

    also, interesting to see that a player can be called up before someone is actually written off. if Farrell has a poor game, then could be see another 10 given a call. (Kearny as the “excuse”)

    1. Agree there’s much more to come from Vunipola in the scrummaging department, he’s only been living the life of a professional athlete for the last year or so. As an aside I hope he takes a leaf out of the Franks brothers book to develop the explosive power to cross the gap (google Franks Strength to see how it should be done without becoming a body building gym bunny)

      However Vunipola 5’11”, Hibbard 6’0″ and Jones 6’0″ just look a perfect unit to scrum hard and low, everything square and horizontal. This combo went exceptionally well against the Baa Baas who weren’t exactly a shabby tight 5 on paper. I can see Vunipola being a serious contender for the starting shirt.

    2. Simo, in terms of calling people up and squad sizes the Lions has no limits. The Lions decide on squad size and who/when to call up. So for example they could, if they wanted, simply call up JW right now and not have to give a reason other than to the media.

      1. i understand that unlike EPS squads, there is not pre-agreed limit, and therefore Gatland can call someone up whenever he wants. However to simply call a player up, for example wilkinson, with no worry over an injury would be a huge admission of a poor original selection. i cannot see that happening as it would make the management look foolish, and also destroy any confidence of the player who was already under-performing. the “excuses” may only need to be MADE to the media, but there is a hell of a lot of covering of ones back that an excuse brings.

        the point i was making was more one of interest at how Corbisero has been added to the squad before it has been confirmed whether Healy is or is not out of the tour. that seems unusual for a lions tour. having said this, i guess the fact that Healy also has a disciplinary hearing coming up will have forced the hand a bit. also, as i understand it, Corbs has a hell of a journey to get to Brisbane, so they cannot afford to waste time.

      2. Being able to call people up, and actually doing so without there being a huge fuss is two incredibly different things.

        Corbs has been called up as cover, as it looks hugely unlikely we will see anymore of Healy.

        Can you imagine the media fuss if JW got called up just because they fancied it? Farrell would get scrutinized and slated further, and a lot of problems would be caused. I can’t see that happening.

        Him coming in for Kearney however, and it would cause far less of a stir.

        1. exactly Jacob.

          although Gatland does not NEED a reason, he will want one.

          it makes him look less foolish, and it will save a bit of face for Farrell.

          sure, the rugby world will know that if Wilko is called up for a fullback, that it is because Farrell has underperformed. but it is one thing being the elephant in the corner, its another to simply come out and say it.

          that would ruin the lad’s self confidence and rugby career. i dont see that happening at all. especially because his dad is one of the coaches!

          1. Good point Simo and Jacob, I agree. Had not thought of it that way – only thing I’d add is that Gatland has a history of not giving a stuff how things look e.g. publicly slagging off Ryan Jones after our Fiji draw, not picking his coaching partner and self confessed Lions nut, etc.

          2. Agree to a point, but given that JW was asked to tour but not available (Gatland wasn’t drawn on whether this would be instead of, or in addition to, Farrell) I don’t think it would be a PR disaster if he did decide to bring him in. Combined with JW being revered down under and the altruistic manner in which he conducts himself I don’t see it would be a big issue. I would be more concerned about a lack of outer back cover if Kearney was used as the excuse to bring in JW.

  6. Would have liked to have seen Youngs and Sexton link up in the half backs. Seen Youngs and Farrell and it doesn’t work. I could see Youngs and Sexton working beautifully off each other.

    Also fancied seeing Croft and Warburton link up in the backrow, maybe next week. Davies and Manu in the centres is also and interesting link up. Manu played really well off BOD and Sexton yesterday, see if he can link up with Davies

  7. he’s really mixing it up, I am starting to think that Gatland really doesn’t have a team in mind.

    Backrow looks like the first choice though,

    I would like to see how Gray and parling go as they are an interesting combo.

    The shuffling at centre shows that he is looking for other options at inside centre other than roborts.

  8. its a pity about kearney if somthing were to happen halfpenny he would have had a real chance of getting the jersey. the centre combos are all interesting but i’d say its just a matter of who plays off BOD better all the centres are equaly good in there own way but only 1 has the test match experience and leadership and thats bod and id say he will get the nod. wouldnt have croft at 6 and he more than likly will use SOB as cover on the bench id say lydiate will take the 6 jersey with warburton bar he has a shocker on sat starting at 7

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