Lions Test Squad Predictor: Fullback


Welcome to the first of our test squad predictor articles. Over the course of the next week or so, we’ll be analysing each position and giving our thoughts on who is likely to feature in the first test. At the bottom of each article is a poll for you to have your say, and next week we’ll publish a Readers’ Test XV based on the results. First up, it’s the gatekeepers at the back.

Leigh Halfpenny

Player of the Six Nations, Halfpenny has had his name pencilled in at fullback for the tests for some time now. With Kearney’s injury his case has only been strengthened, although Hogg has started to show some good form. No one can fault his kicking – 100% from all areas of the pitch against the Force is testament to this – and in the test arena the margin between winning and losing can often be the width of the post. For this reason he has become indispensable to Wales, and the same now has to be said of the Lions. He has started to add a bit more attacking flair to his game, which is good to see after being given a bit more of a chance to run with the ball than he gets with Wales. His finish against the Combined Country XV was beautiful.

Verdict: nailed on test match starter

Stuart Hogg

Hogg is the young pretender, undoubtedly the most exciting talent to come out of the Scottish rugby set-up for quite some time. He has pace, vision and dazzlingly quick feet, all of which make him easily the most potent counter attacking threat the Lions have from the back. Unfortunately for him, he has only just had his breakthrough year and does not have the consistency of performance or maturity that Halfpenny shows. His versatility in being able to cover wing and, as we saw with an excellent performance against the CC XV that belied the fact he had not started there since his school days, fly-half means he is a valuable asset for the Lions and one which is likely to be utilised at some point during the test series.

Verdict: on the bench for the first test

Rob Kearney

Desperately unlucky to suffer an injury so early on, unless he can pull something miraculous out of the bag in the next week he will be too late to make the first test. It is a shame, because he offers something different to the other two and the battle – not to mention the further headache it would have given Gatland – would have been fascinating. He is the most experienced and solid of the three options, with a booming left boot and a deceptive turn of pace that means he can play for territory and counter attack equally well. With such a large Leinster contingent in the squad as well, he would have felt very settled and could have recreated some of the form that saw him end up one of the finds of the 2009 tour.

Verdict: unlikely to feature in the tests, unless he can recover fitness and form in the next week or so

Now it’s your turn – vote in the poll below, and leave your justification in the comments section.

Who should start at fullback in the first test?

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By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

7 thoughts on “Lions Test Squad Predictor: Fullback

  1. I’m actually one of the two people that have gone for Kearney. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with Hogg at 15 in a test match. And I want Healfpenny on the wing just due to a lack of options there. To be fair, it is between Kearney, Zebo and Maitland as to who impresses most over the next week that will decide the make up of the back three. North to wear the 11 shirt, and Cuthbert to be nowhere near a test match.

  2. Think you might be disappointed when Cuthbert starts in the test, alongside Halfpenny and North.

  3. I’m sticking with picking the best fullback @ fullback (1/2p).

    Whilst I’m a little worried by Cuthbert’s lack of real gas against some of the Wallaby fliers it’s down to Zebo or Maitland to get ahead of him rather than move 1/2p.

  4. If I was to play one of the fullbacks on the wing, it wouldn’t be halfpenny.

    He is the safest and most consistent of the 3. The other two are also quite well known for their “x-factor”

    I suspect we will see Cuthbert at 14, but I wouldn’t pick him. He is a great finisher, but other than that, he is probably more of a liability than anyone else.

    1. I would rather not have Halfpenny out on the wing, but I don’t think Kearney is anywhere near a risk if he is fit.

      I am hoping that Maitland or Zebo have a stormer and claim a wing pace.

      I’m basially just hoping the Cuthbert doesn’t get a test spot as I just don’t think he is good enough defensively. Do we really want Digby Ioane running at him?

  5. as a Scotsman I would love to see Hogg start but you would be a brave man not to play halfpenny at FB, probably the best player in the lions, i think his attack potential is under rated.


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