Lions Scout Notes – 13th Nov

With the focus shifting from domestic to international rugby this month, our Scout has switched attention to the Lions, picking standout performers that may be in contention for the Lions tour next year.

Tim Visser

Tim Visser – Scotland
As a scrappy Scotland team were swept away by a sumptuous display of running rugby, there was still a diamond in the rough. The Flying Dutchman (or recently dubbed, “Flying Scotsman”), Tim Visser, remained prolific as ever, notching two trys against the All Blacks. Despite moments where you could do nothing but sit in total admiration of the pace of the New Zealand game, Scotland acquitted themselves well. An intelligent interception from Matt Scott released Tim Visser for his first try, serving as a reminder of the value of having a winger of this calibre. The 25 year-old’s record in itself should be enough to put him in contention for Lions selection – with 43 tries in 74 games so far, it will be hard to overlook him if his form continues.

Dan Cole – England
Charlie Sharples gave Stuart Lancaster an untimely selection headache and Alex Goode was instrumental in three tries, but it was a slightly more battle worn head that put himself firmly in contention for the Lions Tour. For my money there aren’t many better props at the moment, fantastic in the scrum and a huge presence at the breakdown. With sterner tests than Fiji to come it will be interesting to see how the injury beleaguered pack will hold up, but consistency has never been a problem for the 25 year old as his recent form in the league and on the international stage suggests.

Jonathan Sexton – Ireland
With all of Ireland’ points coming from the boot of the fly half it would be hard not to argue his case – a strong kicking display stood out in a match dominated by the forwards. The scrappy nature of the game eventually played into the Springboks’ hands but Ireland can feel slightly aggrieved as their display in the early stages, spearheaded by the fly half, seemed to bode well. Sexton is undoubtedly an excellent fly half and strong contender for the Lions Test jersey.

Toby Faletau – Wales
A complete capitulation saw Wales come unstuck at home against Argentina. However, in an error strewn performance there was one standout performer in Toby Faletau. The back-rower’s effort didn’t go unnoticed, making an influential 122 metres from 18 carries. The future bodes well for this promising 22 year old, and if the Six Nations Champions can get back on track and Faletau remains tireless in effort, there is no reason why he can’t be Warren Gatland’s thoughts come next year.

By Jono Frank

14 thoughts on “Lions Scout Notes – 13th Nov

  1. My money is on Visser starting the first Lions test already. He’s pretty phenomenal – fast, powerful and has that knack of being in the right place all of the time.

    Sexton had another mixed game in my opinion – when Ireland were on the back foot in the 2nd half he reverted (as did the Ire scrum half) the petulant cheap shot throwing tantrum merchant he too often can be, leading to missed opportunities and a lack of focus. Australia would love to have such an easy to wind up outside half opposing them next year. My money is now on Flood for the Lions, which to me sums up how crap the NH outside half situation is at the moment…

    And thank the Lord for Faletau.

    1. Tend to agree with regard to Visser. It’s those attributes that you can’t teach which he has in abundance. Pure speed and the ability to be in the right place at the right time. Ashton had that until they coached it out of him!

      Also never been a fan of Sexton, although as you say – fairly slim pickings at FH at the moment. People wouldn’t be talking about Wilkinson otherwise! Still think Burns is in with a shot of going IF he gets some international game time – it may be that the next generation of FH’s might be better than the current crop. However Flood has rarely let England down to be fair to him.

      1. I’m probably being overly harsh on Flood by saying the situation is crap … but then again, as you say, he “has rarely let England down”, which I agree with (an early tendency to be charged down not withstanding) but it’s a little depressing that the best we seem to have in FH in the NH is a safe pair of hands. It would be nice to have a little bit more.

        1. What I said about Flood is what I meant – I’m not his greatest fan but he has offered a decent level of stability (and improved goal kicking). He’s never going to be a Carter, but then again who is? However when it comes to something like the Lions, don’t underestimate the value of a safe pair of hands. There should be plenty of potential match winners in the side, and you don’t want a FH who is going to lose it for the team.

          1. Staggy, I would kill for a safe pair of hands. Jamie Roberts, Jon Davies, Halfpenny, Cuthbert, North … everyone agrees that that is a world class backline. But with a donkey between them and the ball it doesn’t amount to much. If only we could have a safe passing FH who kicks when we are under pressure and not when we are in attack … if only …

  2. I’d still say Flood is a brilliant international fly half. The only problem is, he needs the right scrum half with him. When England looked brilliant in the 6N games they won under Johnson, the combination worked with great results and Ashton coming off his wing worked brilliantly. Why after that they decided to split them up, I’ll never know. Jonny Sexton though, has always failed to impress me. He sort of runs. He kicks okay. It’s a shame for Ireland that ROG is a bit old now and the only real 10 coming through is Sexton. Ian Humphreys is the next best thing and he’s dire at times.

    Visser impressed me no end, I didn’t necessarily expect him to slot in to an international role so easily.

    It’s difficult to pick anything positive out of Wales’ performance so bravo on that. 8 is going to be a competitive position come the Lions Tour.

    1. There are other Irish out-halves. Ian Humphries is a complete footnote e.g. Paddy Jackson, Madigan, Keatley. Sexton will get better (in terms of form) but have to agree that Flood is probably first choice currently.

  3. Get visser in there but I can’t imagine George North and Ashton missing out to name but two. We do have some decent wingers going for us.

    Can’t wait to get out to Oz for the tests

      1. Indeed. North’s form seems to have deserted him a little, but hopefully will return. Bowe is still worth watching, but to my mind Sharples is in better form than Ashton at the moment (and indeed seemed better last year also) so I don’t think that is a done deal.

        Outside bets – it may be worth watching Zebo, who looked like Irelands only chance of breaking the line on saturday, and Mike Brown might be contenders after the considerable rugby still to be played between now and selection.

  4. Brighty – point well made. Can’t disagree with you. Sadly I think that all English FH’s over the past ten years have been guilty of kicking away good possession on more than one occasion. Rugby intelligence has been somewhat lacking down our way for a while. However there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. I’m hoping it’s not a false dawn!

  5. The back row is going to be the toughest selection of all – surprised at no mention of Denton here, who else can say they ran through Mcaw?!?!

    1. It was a toss up between Denton and Visser actually. Did enjoy that moment though. I also think Gray could be in the mix

  6. Visser is in great form, he’s a Lions candidate for sure! If anyone’s interested we’ve just launched the ‘My Lions Rugby’ app which allows you to predict the British & Irish Lions squad for their tour of Australia. Its from the Apple App Store for just £0.69, the closest prediction could win an iPad!

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