My British & Irish Lions Test XV

With three games down, and only one more game before the likely test XV line-up against Western Province ahead of the first test, the boffins here at The Rugby Blog have put our heads together to come up with our latest predicted XV.

1. Gethin Jenkins – A strong performance against the Golden Lions puts him in the frame.
2. Lee Mears – Ross Ford enhanced his case against the Cheetahs. Mears will need to up it again against Natal if selected.
3. Euan Murray – A close call here with Phil Vickery, but the Scot was immense against both the Golden Lions and the Cheetahs.
4. Alun-Wyn Jones – Arguably the MOM against the Golden Lions, but will feel Nathan Hines breathing down his neck.
5. Paul O’Connell (c) – Inked in from day one, though, he needs to up his game for the first test.
6. Stephen Ferris – A tough call between Ferris and Tom Croft, but the Ulsterman pips it with his all round game.
7. David Wallace – His play against the Golden Lions was immense, and with Martyn Williams ruled out against Natal, Wallace will get another chance to stake his claim for the 7 shirt.
8. Jamie Heaslip – Completes the all-Irish back row.
9. Mike Phillips – His quick ball and ability to go forward strongly set him apart.
10. Stephen Jones – His partnership with Phillips and his reliability edge him ahead at the moment.
11. Ugo Monye – He’s living the dream at the moment, and not doing too badly on the field either. However, it’s all to play for on the wing with numerous contenders still in the hunt.
12. Jamie Roberts – It’s hard to see past Roberts here. Riki Flutey will try to push his case against Natal though.
13. Brian O’Driscoll – Was there ever going to be anyone else?
14. Tommy Bowe – His tries and all round support play against the Golden Lions was a joy to behold. If he’s not already inked in, then he should be!
15. Lee Byrne – A quieter game against the Cheetahs, but Byrne is still marginally ahead of Rob Kearney.

Let us know whether you agree.

8 thoughts on “My British & Irish Lions Test XV

  1. Apart from Murray, that would be my starting team. I would personally have Vickery instead of Murray, but either way it is a cracking team. Subs (in my opinion) should be: Sheridan/Murray, Ford, Croft, Ellis, Hook, Flutey, Kearney.

  2. i like the cut of your xv’s jib, but a few thoughts below. it’s a harsh environment in terms of selection – some people appear to have been written off already. fair enough if you’re talking about andy powell or keith earls perhaps, but others deserve another crack

    1. Gethin Jenkins – quite like the idea of sheridan roughing up smit for 40 mins before jenkins sprints on
    2. Lee Mears – Ross Ford. agreed, albeit rees a little unlucky…
    3. Euan Murray – A close call here with Phil Vickery, i might say PV
    4. Alun-Wyn Jones – hines? what has simon shaw done wrong, he only got an hour in game one (the one where they’d not adjusted to the altitude etc), didn’t give away too many penalties, but hasn’t reappeared and is only benching for game 4?
    5. Paul O’Connell (c) – stephen jones of the sunday times questions whether he’s on of the best 2 locks on tour, but i’d be stunned if geech pays heed to this…
    6. Stephen Ferris/ croft. i’d go croft. worsley in same camp as shaw, tho’ he’s had more opportunities but was played out of position on sat. not being a ‘go-to’ lineout option might cost him
    7. David Wallace – i’d play williams
    8. Jamie Heaslip – agreed
    9. Mike Phillips – agreed, and ellis looks likely sub
    10. Stephen Jones . i think ROG offers a little more, but remains a close call
    11. Ugo Monye – agreed. shane W in last-chance saloon
    12. Jamie Roberts – agreed
    13. Brian O’Driscoll – agreed.
    14. Tommy Bowe – agreed altho 1/2p hasn’t been given much chance, and fitzgerald is primarily a wing i’d say, he could get a bench slot at least?
    15. Lee Byrne – agreed, as much a certainty as 5/12/13 i’d say

    one other thing. why did wayne barnes ref the game on sat? no offence to him, i thought he did ok, but seemed to just further confuse the situation about interpretation at the breakdown. we won’t really know what will happen in this area until the first test starts (lawrence of nz) and could then change again for 2 (berdos – france) and 3 (our old chum stuart dickinson)…

    maybe this is a subject for another thread, but i fear for the future of lions tours in their current format, given the congested calendar (super 15 etc), low crowds in rugby-mad SA and disinclination of either team to give anything away pre-tests. plus the fact that the next tour’s to australia where strength-in-depth is least evident. it’d be a crying shame, but i can see reduction to squad of about 28 men playing 2 or 3 warm-up games and 3 tests…

  3. Re the referees, thay have agreed that they will use 4 Saffas and 3 N Hemisphere refs for the warm-up games. You’re right about the confusion but I thought it was Wayne Barnes who was a bit confused. Either that or the Cheetahs no 6, Broussouw, was wearing an invisibility cloak which meant Barnes couldn’t see quite how offside he was the whole game. This is no criticism of Broussouw as that’s was good open sides do but he got away with absolute murder.

    Like the team above though, would go with Croft over Ferris as he’s tightened up his game and is a key lineout option. However, with Wyn-Jones in there, that might be a little lightweight. It may be either Hines and Croft, or Wyn-Jones and Ferris. Also like the idea of Sheridan playing first half and then Jenkins coming on as the game opens up.

  4. I think Brussow was playing on the right side of the laws on Saturday. There is an easy way (in theory) to combat that though – get more players in close support, two/three men smash over the top of the tackled man and ball immediately passed out by 9. Needs fitness and tactical nous but should be within the lions capabilities.

    As soon as the support players join the ruck, theoretically everyone has to let go of the ball, tackler and tacklee, so any defending player still holding onto the ball would need to be penalised.

  5. At the moment, everyone seems fairly consistent with their starting XV selections give or take one or two selections. But who should make the bench? Do we go for 3 forwards and 4 backs or vis versa? I for one think that the forwards are going to have the hardest part to play in the tests so would probably look at a 4 forwards/3 backs bench and possibly 3 of the 4 forward subs being front rowers (Sheridan, Ford, Vickery – if they’re not in the starting XV). If croft doesn’t make the starting XV , then i’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make the bench, especially with him being able to cover 5 positions in the fowards and has the pace to cover the wings (if things get really desperate!). I know Croft is lightweight is conparision to Hines/Shaw/Powell etc, but he has had a cracking season and has look good on tour so far. Flutey for me has to be on the bench as he has the ability to change the game (just look at the first game of the tour) and can cover centre or fly half. Hook again had the ability to change a game and can cover centre and fly half, but am unsure about his consistency when it comes to big games – but would make my bench ahead of O’Gara. If Phillips gets the start at 9, then ellis must get the bench position. Thoughts?

  6. I know I’ve just changed my mind (see the first comment), but I’ve been thinking alot about it and think this may be a better bench. Yes, I do have too much time on my hands at work!

  7. FLy half is still up in the air – Hook might just sneak in the back door. Ferris is now gone so Croft at 6 unless an incoming Ryan Jones can make the come back of the century.

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