Lions Scout Notes – 4th Dec

Jono Frank reviews the Wales and England games at the weekend to identify potential Lions candidates.

Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell
With only England and Wales playing this weekend the scope for Lions potentials was narrowed. Fly-Half is going to be a contentious issue for Gatland to deal with and Owen Farrell is certainly a name that will be heavily debated. Whilst his excellent performance against the All-Blacks showed the cool head that is required for a lions number 10 and that he can step up to a challenge; previous displays have highlighted his lack of flare and ingenuity that someone like Freddie Burns clearly possesses. Nevertheless, Farrell is consistent with the boot and has time to grow at Saracens. If he can develop a cutting edge to his game he will certainly put himself in and amongst the likes of Sexton, Preistland and Flood when Warren Gatland comes to choosing the number 10 jersey.

Alex Cuthbert
A difficult period for Welsh Rugby was painfully capped off with a narrow defeat to Australia. Welsh players may not be at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to Lions selection however, the likes of Alex Cuthbert shouldn’t be forgotten about. Whilst the young Welsh winger has been on the receiving end in this series his pace and power may be just what the Lion’s team needs. His exciting burst of pace from within his own half against Australia is testament to the raw talent he possesses. Although he didn’t throw the pass a cooler head might have, he has time on his side. With 13 caps at the age of 22, he has proved his a quick learner. The likes of Ashton, Visser, North and Bowe will provide stiff competition but Cuthbert will be in the frame.

Tom Wood
In a second half that will live long in the memory of any England supporters there were many excellent performances. Hearts were certainly in mouths as England saw their lead quickly diminished to within a point as they All-Blacks seemed to recapture their form. However, England managed to fight fire with fire with an un-foreseen energy that seemed to spark all elements of their rugby into life. Justifiably named man-of-the-match, Tom Wood, was central to this, seemingly first to every break down and fantastic in the loose the number 6, quite literally at some points, carried England towards the line. The competition in the back-row will undoubtedly be fierce when the Lions Tour comes around, however the Northampton flanker has certainly done no harm to his chances with his contribution to this outstanding team performance.

By Jono Frank

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

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22 comments on “Lions Scout Notes – 4th Dec

  1. The Welsh players I would be including are Faletau, Halfpenny, J. Davies, Warburton, North, and possibly Philips.

    From an English perspective I’d go Cole, Hartley, Tuilagi, Farrel, Launchbury, and Wood.

  2. Can’t see that Priestland is in the running for Lions FH.

    Felix, would add Lydiate to your Welsh contingent and maybe Roberts. English contingent should probably include Corbisiero, Lawes, Youngs and Care, Foden and Goode and probably Robshaw.

    Could, and probably will, all change by the end of the 6N!

    Did the Rugby Blog ought to do a Lions squad, post AI’s, or is it already in the making?

  3. Yeh tend to agree with both Staggy and Felix on potential inclusions. I would really like to see Launchbury go. And I think Care and Youngs might be battling eachother for the Lions shirts as well as the England shirt.

    Yeh can we have a post-AI lions team and have a look at the pre-AIs team and see the comparisons?

  4. Obviously there is some way to go just yet, but I would agree that poor Rhys Priestland is some way off the Lions. But then so is Warburton at the moment, and that (hopefully) will yet change.

    I would be tempted to add Tom Youngs to the list of potentials. I don’t think that Hooker is a particularly strong position for the home nations, so if his throwing holds up I can’t see him falling much behind any of the others.

  5. Who (if fit) is looking fairly certain…
    Props – Healey, Jones, Cole, Corbisiero
    Hookers – Hartley, Best
    Lock – Ryan, Gray, Lawes
    7 –
    8 – Faletau, O’Brien
    6 – Wood, Lydiate, Ferris
    SH – Youngs, Care
    FH – Sexton
    Centre – BoD, Tuilagi, J Davies, Roberts
    Wing – North, Cuthbert, Bowe, Visser
    FB – Halfpenny, Kearney, Foden, Goode

    Probably forgotten a few, and open to argument whether some others are nailed on or not.

    • Disagree with you about both Lawes and Goode – especially Lawes, who I’m not sure is even England first choice lock come the six nations; Parling and Launchbury look good enough right now. Goode has done well this series, but I don’t see him as on the plane yet.

      • Hang on, I didn’t mean “good enough”. I meant “pole position”. No idea where that came from, probably just thinking too fast ahead. Must proofread next time!

      • Lawes, I think will go as an impact sub. He shouldn’t start IMO, but he brings something to the table that no one else does. Might be a fair comment about Goode, as my criteria was “fairly certain” and in retrospect he isn’t.

  6. There are loads of names ont he mix for all positions, beside FH, it all depends what type of game we are going to play, especially in the forwards, if we are going to go fast and loose then Gray, Launchbury, Lawes are in pole but if we are going to bully Aus, AWJ, O’Connel, Ryan are all in the mix.

    Backrow is up for Grabs, Lydiate is awesome, Warburton when he plays well, Ferris, O’Brian, Croft and now Robshaw and Woods there are lots of choices apart from number 8 where things look a bit thin on the ground, so maybe a conversion of O’brian is an option.

    Scrum half,
    Phillips if on form, Youngs is making a case, Care isn’t close.

    Fly half
    Sexton, no other option at the mo.

    Centre
    BOD, Roberts, Tuillagi, Davis

    Wings
    Bowe, Cuthburt, North, Visser, Ashton all in the mix.

    Fullback
    Halfpenny, Foden, Goode Kearny all in the mix.

  7. This would be my Lions starting 15 if the game was tomorrow.

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Gray
    6. Wood (C)
    7. Armitage
    8. Faletau
    9. Youngs
    10. Sexton
    11. Bowe
    12. Darcy
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Ashton
    15. Halfpenny

    I’ve thrown Armitage in there purely because so many people say he should be playing for England on his current form, and there have been no real stand out 7′s in the AI’s for the home nations.

    • Tend to pretty much agree with Dazza on this. This would be my team:

      1. Corbisiero
      2. Youngs
      3. Cole
      4. Launchbury
      5. Gray
      6. Wood
      7. Robshaw (c)
      8. Faletau
      9. Youngs
      10. Sexton
      11. North
      12. Davies
      13. Tuilagi
      14. Ashton
      15. Halfpenny

      I would say that if Warburnton can find the form he has shown in the past, then he would take the 7 shirt and captaincy off of Robshaw. But Robshaw has play brilliantly this Autumn and is learning fast as a captin.

      I also hope Ferris is fit because he is truely class. Wood is also a good player but Ferris would be my preference.

      I found myself changing the wingers about five times! Any of Ashton, North, Cuthbert, Bowe or Visser could all play! To be honest they are all so strong, I don’t mind too much who plays!

      I would also be surprised if we went with two such inexperienced locks. I think Gray is likely, but maybe a more experienced man to partner him? Not sure who though!

      • Agree on the wingers. And so many other potentials as well. Wade, Sharples, Williams (filled in well for North). In the end I went for experience as much as anything.
        Like your idea of Davies at 12 with Tuilagi. For me Roberts is not the player he was a couple of seasons ago, but Darcy has almost re-invented himself and put on some really good performances in the AI’s.

        • Not sure about either Aston or Sharples. Ashton hasn’t looked great in the autumn internationals and his defense has been poor.

          Sharples looked out of his depth against the Aussies.

          Visser is great in attack but his defense needs work, like Wade

          Would take Brown, not as a starter but as a sub to cover wing and full-back – he has definitely put himself forward this autumn

          Despite Gatland’s comments, Robshaw must be in pole position for 7 at the moment. Would need some pretty big performances from Warburton to usurp him. For me, Tipuric hasn’t lived up to his billing on the international stage (tho to be fair he hasn’t had that many chances) and O’Brien is far better on the blindside.

          Like the idea of Davies and Tuilagi.

          Youngs though? Not for me. Had his best game last week but still wasn’t great. Care for me at the moment but would like to see Phillips get his mojo back

  8. I think since the overwelming emphasis on this thread is welsh and english, I think i will throw my irish hat into the ring. Firstly, very impressed withe england on saturday. However, the fast tracking of launchbury and youngs is somewhat premature. I would put these boys in the ‘Gilroy category’, should go (as it stands currently) but not sure if they would be starting any tests. strauss is ahead of youngs and hartley coming back in will mean he probably wont travel. launchbury is class and should go. 4 locks would be him, parling, ryan and gray.

    For my own bit, my team right now (only fit players is):
    Healey
    Strauss
    Cole
    Ryan
    Gray
    Wood
    Robshaw/ warbuton
    O Brien/ heaslip/ Faletau (not sure here tbh)
    Youngs (as he is betetr than care)
    Sexton
    Gilroy (couldnt help myself)
    tuilagi
    davies
    bowe
    halfpenny (king kearney will return)

    A little bit biased.. but meh so is everyone

    • I put Strauss in the same category as Launchbury, T Youngs and Gilroy in that they’ve put their name forward but need to back this up in the 6N to prove that they aren’t a flash in the pan. That was why I didn’t put any of them forward (yet). As has been mentioned, it is possible that Youngs and Strauss won’t start in the 6N which would seriously hamper their chances unless they show enough in limited time or look the part as impact subs. I think Gilroy and Launchbury will start in 6N barring injury.

      • Tbh I am not sure Gilroy or Strauss will start in the six nations. Anscombe (ulster coach) seems to prefer Trimble on the left wing. Disappointing but ulster have depth in every division. Look out for Iain Henderson at 6 tomorrow. Should be a great match.

  9. Interesting discussion, with some mad suggestions.

    Far to hard to predict with a 6N and cups and leagues so many will be out – or back. However both Youngs and Care have not a hope. Even Ben Youngs might struggle.
    launchbury looks great looking forward to him in 6N, but you would imagine that would put pay to Lawes –
    Who said Tom Croft???????? Luckiest Lion ever and despite two tries in last tour cost the Lions by not doing what he should and staying looser than a nut without a bolt. Wallace and heaslip had to do so much work for him it made the backrow ineffective.
    Croft no!

    • Not sure which Youngs you were saying had no hope? If it was T Youngs, I would suggest that his chances of a Lions spot just went up after Hartleys citing. He might end up first choice for England in the 6N.

      B Youngs and Care definitely have decent chances of going. Neither at the top of their game admitedly, but not a great amount of other players sticking their hands up at SH. Might be one or the other though, and fair point about Lawes and Launchbury, although I still like what Lawes brings from the bench – no team wants to see him come on with 20 minutes to play. They might both go yet, although I think the Irish Locks might have a large say in that.

      Going to be a very interesting 6N with lots of one to one battles going on for Lions places within the context of the wider matches.