Lions Scout Notes: May 29th

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Geoff Parling

The Aviva Premiership Final was certainly captivating. Dylan Hartley’s moment of madness slightly tainted what would have otherwise been a fantastic spectacle. Perhaps it was the sense of occasion which got to the now former Lion. One player, however, who remained level headed throughout proceedings and got on with the task at hand was Geoff Parling. The second-row has remained a resolute figure throughout the domestic season and the Six Nations. It is these consistently strong performances that have landed him a place on the plane to Australia. It definitely wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in a starting role when the first test match rolls around. His strength in the line-out is second to none and his ability to keep going has been testament to Leicester’s championship-winning campaign.

Jamie Heaslip

A second tour for Leinster’s number 8 has been more than justified with his performances this season. Telling contributions in ensuring his side emerged as champions once again have really shown the calibre of the 29-year old. There will be good competition for places within the back-row for a test spot. This is especially the case for the number 8 jersey with Toby Faletau battling Heaslip all the way. The Irishman’s efforts, first against Glasgow and then in the final, have just shaded it for me. He has certainly picked the right time to grab the headlines and although it remains to be seen what happens Down Under, the Leinster man gets my vote when it comes to taking on the Aussies.

Rory Best

The initial omission of the Ulsterman raised quite a few eyebrows. The hooker’s pedigree is undoubted. A strong Six Nations followed by an equally consistent end to the season was only marred by his side losing out to Leinster in the final of the RaboDirect PRO 12. So a cool Irish head replaces a hot English one, and I can only breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes out with the old and in with the new isn’t the best policy and Dylan Hartley’s moment of madness certainly served to justify this. With Hibbard and Youngs providing strong competition it remains to be seen whether Best can earn a starting spot in the test matches. He is, however, a worthy and important inclusion.

By Jono Frank

13 thoughts on “Lions Scout Notes: May 29th

  1. interesting comments regarding Parling. Especially seeing as (by this Blog’s own admission – Player ratings by Jamie) Parling has a pretty quiet final, in which he was “out-thought at times in the line-out by opposing expert Christian Day”. seems to counter the “second-to-none” argument.

    my own personal views of Parling’s performance are along a similar line to those of Jamie, he wasn’t bad, but he has been better. The performance from Launchbury the following day will have given a few some food for thought.

    Regarding Heaslip, based on what most people said, it seems that his performances have only come since the 6Ns finished. i would say that he received the nod more on past form/experience than form this season. in fact, only one of his best games came before the announcement, so it wouldnt be too far a stretch to think that the weight of selection being lifted help Heaslip. Similar can be said of Best. He didnt have a bad 6Ns, but his throwing was off. He went into the 6Ns as most people’s starting 2, then Hibbard leapfrogged him. He ended up not even making the tour, until a moment of madness from Hartley.

  2. Indeed simo. I can’t agree that Heaslip’s selection has been “more than justified with his performances this season”. Justified by his recent performances for sure, and as such an inspired selection (hopefully) rather than a justifiable one – at the time.

    I have never been a big fan of Rory Best. I appreciated him as a decent Hooker, but couldn’t see why he was (at one time) the “nailed on” starting Hooker and possible Captain. As the 6Ns progressed, again I couldn’t see what all of the fuss was about, and always felt that at least the 3 picked ahead of him were better bets.

    Again, he played OK on saturday, but nothing special or stand-out.

    But here he is, and good luck to him. It strikes me as one of those situations where I should now go out and put money on him ending up as the Player of the Series.

  3. Fair play for Heaslip, since the 6n has been pretty good. Richie Gray and Lydiate are still the outrageous selections, more so than Stevens, due to their complete lack of form/game time. For all the banging on about how no one’s place was certain, those ones reeked of pre-selection. Shame because Launchbury has universally been seen as brilliant this year, and on Saturday again he was immense.

    I still think too much was made of the final 6n game, honestly if Eng lost 8 in a row there would be outrage. After all it was one game. A big game, sure. but just one.The fact that it seems to have booked so many on the plane is ridiculous. Esp given that

  4. Fair play for Heaslip, since the 6n has been pretty good. Richie Gray and Lydiate are still the outrageous selections, more so than Stevens, due to their complete lack of form/game time. For all the banging on about how no one’s place was certain, those ones reeked of pre-selection. Shame because Launchbury has universally been seen as brilliant this year, and on Saturday again he was immense.

    I still think too much was made of the final 6n game, honestly if Eng lost 8 in a row there would be outrage. After all it was one game. A big game, sure. But just one. The fact that it seems to have booked so many on the plane is ridiculous. Esp given that the Eng/All Blacks game (equally, only one game, albeit a more impressive one) was not given such incredible weight when going in for selection.

    1. i agree with pretty much all that you have said. especially regarding Gray and Lydiate being obvious pre-selections. although, if on form, both players could easily vie for the man of the series award.

      Stevens has been doing pretty well for Sarries, although he seems to be a penalty machine in the games i have watched him play. i wouldnt want him coming on in the last 20 of a test, when the score i tight. also, he had best deliver the goods, because from all the photos i have seen, he looks more like a competition winner than one of the squad!

      the one thing that i disagree with a bit is that the NZ didnt add weight to selection. i think that this game made a few players’ chances in terms of going. Farrell is one who sticks out. in fact, i would say that the 6Ns actually lead to a few players playing themselves out of lions places after the NZ win.

      Although the NZ and England vs Wales games were both big games, and had exceptional performances from the winning teams, i do think that possibly too much emphasis was put on these two fixtures.

      1. the Eng v NZ game was over six months ago now to be fair, its only a reader as what those players can achieve rather than their current form. If the lions squad was picked the week after it would be very different no doubt.

  5. Moment of madness?? This gives the impression it was a one off incident. Hartley was warned in the match, and has a previous record for this kind of thing. I’d call it comeuppance, that kind of behavior has no place in our sport. Still have to feel for the guy though.

    1. Hartley has a previous record of this kind of thing?

      when exactly are you referring to? he has been banned for gouging, biting and striking, but never for verbal abuse of an official.

      i would accept you likening his first 3 bans, as those were all for acts against an opponent, but this is an act against an official.

      as for him being warned, as i have stated on other posts, Barnes also seemed to warn Flood. i recall him saying to Flood “if you continue to talk to me like that, you will be in the stands”. seems like Barnes was in a touchy mood for the day.

      and speaking of having form in certain actions, doesnt Barnes have form in carding someone in big games? he likes to “stamp his authority” on a game.

      Hartley let the situation get the better of him, and he acted without thinking. i think that that constitutes a moment of madness, the other bans you can feel free to put down to stupidity.

      1. I don’t want to look like I defending Hartley, but I think people are going way over the top.

        He was wrong to say what he did to Barnes, and I agree with his ban; but I can completely see why he was wound up and said what he did, Barnes made a mess of things by not being clearer to Myler; and as Simo pointed, he had already warned Flood so there was obviously a lot being said on that pitch.

        Regarding his previous bans; he was banned for biting Ferris, but by all accounts it was after Ferris had put his fingers in Hartleys mouth. Again, bad reaction to clamp down on them with his teeth, and undoubtedly Ferris was trying to wind him up.

        The problem Hartley has is that:

        a) he plays on the edge with his temper – in the semi final he was praised for how confrontational he was, and how up for the it he was in the tight, so that is easy to boil over
        b) he has a reputation, that means players target him and try to wind him up. You might argue he deserves his reputation, but still.

        I would put money on Hartley coming back bigger and better from this, because that is the kind of attitude he holds.

      2. I think you are splitting hairs. By “these kind of things” i meant unsporting nasty behavior, which includes – gouging, striking, biting and verbal abuse (no matter if it is a player or official).

        Also you only mention his “official record” of the incidents you mention, many incidents go unpunished. Like Jacob says he is notoriously hotheaded, and may I add mouthy. Yes, other players are too but two wrongs don’t make a right.

        Yes, Barns warned Flood, good on him….and? I don’t see your point? Like above, 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Flood was just a bit smarter not to do it again.

        Maybe I’m being a bit harsh but all I am saying is when I heard the news I wasn’t surprised.

        1. I see your point. I guess what I am trying to get across is that Hartley has a reputation goes before him. As you said, you weren’t surprised when you heard the news. The debate as to whether he deserves hit reputation is a different one. But what I am saying is; he is targeted by players, purposefully wound up – the Ferris incident for me outlines if perfectly. I am not saying that means he is allowed to react, but I think it would be easy to react with people niggling at your for 80 minutes every single week.

  6. Still hoping for the third test:

    Halfpenny, Bowe, Tuilagi, O’Driscoll, North, Sexton, Youngs, O’Brien, Tipuric, Robshaw, Parling, O’Connell, Jones, Hibbard, Healey

    Vunipola, Cole, Youngs, Croft, AWJ, Phillips, Wilkinson, Hogg

    Wilko drops the winner. Robshaw MOM

  7. Hisleap was lucky to be included, his form has been terrible, he was includedd on lack of other options really. Faletau is un a leaque of his own for the 8 spot, Maybe O’Brain at 8 might be an option, I doubt there is too much time for experimenting though.

    Agree on Best, he is a much better player than Hartley, glad to see him there.

    Parling is very reliable and his line-out work is great even though he had an off day in the final, credit to the saints. However, with OC as the main lineout forward and generally a better player than parling, he will need an injury to the Irishman in order to make the test team, this is not impossible.

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