O’Shea baffled by Robshaw Lions snub

As Harlequins gathered for training on Tuesday, it must have been agony for those boys in Lions contention. “The Lions announcement wasn’t the priority for us at the Harlequins training ground on Tuesday, as we had our team meeting and training around the same time,” said head coach Conor O’Shea. “That said, you knew the guys were desperate to find out.”

He is as shocked as most of the rest of us as to Robshaw’s non-inclusion. “From our club and an England perspective, you couldn’t imagine Chris Robshaw not being on that plane. He has captained England to a win against the All Blacks this season.

“He had two man of the match performances in the Six Nations so it is hard to believe. England were four from four going into the last game against Wales and then Cardiff happened. Was that enough to knock him off the plane? It’s the same with Danny (Care) and what he could bring to the tour to Australia.”

As we know, none of the players (officially) knew before any of us did, and so as they went through their drills and meetings, they were still unsure as to where they would be that June. The likes of Danny Care, Mike Brown and Joe Marler, all stalwarts of Lancaster’s England, were in with a chance – and then, of course, there is Robshaw, the man with surely the cruelest fate. There were always going to be some big casualties, but there weren’t many who left out of their squads the man who had led England to victory over New Zealand and to the brink of a Six Nations in the past six months.

“By the time we finished our meeting and got out to train the word was out there and for the likes of Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Joe Marler and Mike Brown it was disappointing,” noted O’Shea. “The lads felt for Chris and Danny in particular and all you can ever do is console them and get on with it. It is always about your next job and I would say to them all that you cannot control selection, so many variables come into it and eventually selection is subjective and opinion-based. That is why everyone debates it and no one will ever agree with it.”

o'sheaO’Shea says Gatland has stayed true to the guys he has worked with in the past, meaning the likes of Dan Lydiate, who has been injured for the best part of the season, has made it ahead of the Harlequins and England captain. “As a coach you understand why people go with what and who you know and that is what Warren has done. He is a straightforward, straight-talking bloke and I am sure he will tell a few guys who have been selected over others that they owe him to deliver because of the quality of players left out. In instances, it is faith, not form, that has won out.

“Across the British Isles and Ireland you will have the elation and despair and that is sport. I am sure Rory Best, Simon Zebo, Tom Wood, Joe Launchbury, Donnacha Ryan, Mike Ross and so many more will be gutted but all they can do is focus on their end of season games and be ready if the call comes from Warren, as it always does on Lions tours.”

That will seem like small consolation right now, however.

Regarding the much-debated captaincy issue, O’Shea says Gatland has again gone with the option that he knows and has worked with successfully in the past. Let us not forget that he and Warburton led Wales to a Grand Slam and the brink of a World Cup final together. “The Captaincy has been hotly debated but Warren has again gone to the bloke he has gone to war with many times,” says the Quins coach.

“There will be plenty of help and support from the likes of Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll but Warren is the most successful club and international coach in the Northern Hemisphere. He has always made big decisions and more often than not he is proven right.”

So who does O’Shea back to be on that teamsheet for that opening test on 22nd June?

“The excitement will build from here on in, and I am sure that changes will happen as we get nearer the tour, but for now it looks like the first test team would be as follows:”

15. L Halfpenny
14. G North
13. B O’Driscoll
12. J Roberts
11. T Bowe
10. J Sexton
9. M Phillips
8. J Heaslip
7. S Warburton
6. T Croft
5. A-W Jones
4. P O’Connell
3. A Jones
2. T Youngs
1. C Healy

Do you agree with O’Shea’s team?

Conor O’Shea was speaking as a rugby ambassador for QBE, the business insurance specialist, who are supporting the development of rugby through the QBE Coaching Programme. For exclusive rugby news, video and blogs please visit www.QBErugby.com and follow QBE on Twitter @QBErugby.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

33 thoughts on “O’Shea baffled by Robshaw Lions snub

  1. I also feel gutted for Robshaw. Even in Cardiff when everything was falling to pieces around him felt that Robshaw was one of the few to emerge with his reputation intact. Trouble with him is that he is not a star like some of the others. He does his job to a highly efficient level but without ever having that wow factor. Still Premiership POTY 2012, captain to a win over the AB and 2 MOTM performances in the 6 nations would have been enough to have got him on the plane in any other position! Think it is a real shame and a mistake he hasn’t gone.

  2. I have to agree with Ben, however one thing to take into consideration is the fact that Rowntree and Farrell are on the coaching team. With a looming world cup on home soil, I wonder if the decision not to take him is partly to help the development of the England team with only 2 years to go until that. Interesting strategy if so…

    1. Don’t know if that’s the case as apprently Lancaster has said that even if Robshaw wasn’t selected he wouldn’t be taking him to Argentina as he thought he needed a rest after 18 months pretty much non stop. That then raises big questions as if he takes Wood as Captain and he then has a stormer will he take over from Robshaw?

      1. Robshaw is surely on standby for the Lions. (I know Gatland said there isnt such a thing, but there has to be). If he went to Argentina he’d be a long way away..

        1. Anarky, not sure if the comment about Argentina being far away was a joke… after all, the world is a globe, so they would simply fly over the pacific, therefore leaving him in england is actually further away from aus.
          rough flight time from Buenos Aires to Canberra is just over 15hrs. London to Canberra is 21hrs 55m (plus you have a layover in somewhere like Singapore or Hong Kong)

      2. I am not sure that Lancasters view on the rest needed by Robshaw would have necessarily helped his (Lions) cause considering that Lydiate and Croft have had plenty of rest this season.

  3. Interesting fact that Newport-Gwent Dragons (2nd bottom in Celtic League, and their Amlin Challenge pool) have more Lions than Harlequins.

    1. That says a lot to me. I thought it was a strange thing to say the other day, that the first match will be made up mostly by Welsh players, due to most of them being available for the training camps. What he didn’t explain was the reason they’re available for those training camps. Because none of their clubs are in any domestic play-offs or finals. Of course this doesn’t reflect the individuals he’s selected, but it does tell you something about the state of affairs at club level in Wales.

      1. i noticed that unless you are welsh or Richie Gray, no lion has come from a club that isnt top 6 in its league.

        In fact no englishman has come from anything but a top 4 club. and taking Hartley out of the equation, no enlishman has come from anything but the top 2.

        The Scots (other than Gray) have both come from Glasgow. which would suggest that Edinburgh are not playing high enough standard that their players were not considered, yet the NG Dragons who are 1 place below, have 2 lions touring.

        Ulster sit in 1st and have provided 1 player. Leinster are 2nd and have sent 6, Munster are in 6th and have sent 2. Also Ulster and Munster had more success in the HC than Leinster this year. so the numbers are a bit odd.

        it just seems to me, that from a welsh perspective your personal form was taken into account, not your team. but for the other nations, domestic rankings or european performance seemed to play a much more dominant part. dont get me wrong, the ospreys and scarlets are doing well domestically. but of the 15 welsh players, 6 are coming from teams sat in 9th and 11th.

        I should state now that i do not disagree with any of the welsh names who made it into the squad (maybe someone else could have gone over Evans), but the selection policy does seem a bit strange to grasp.
        also i find it quite interesting that Jenkins was named as another coach about 2 weeks before the final squad was decided. you wonder if maybe they needed a 5th coach so that they could have a majority decision on any 50-50 calls. i am not suggesting that Jenks was bias towards welsh players, because i highly doubt many welsh players were in any of the 50-50 calls. but it would suggest maybe gatland needed to change something to break a couple deadlocks.

    2. that is true, but not for long, by the third test Lydiate will have transferred, and if Faletau is with the dragons beyond 13-14 season ill be seriously surprised.

  4. Interesting fact 2: Leicester, leinster, cardiff blues, ospreys have more lions than the Scottish National team with saracens equalling the number

    1. And considering the fact that the Scottish national team draws a lot of players from Glasgow, who are third in the rabo…

        1. …and glasgow who got royally stuffed by scarlets 29-6 with their no lions of a pack the week before! funny old game this rugby isnt it?!

    1. Sure but it doesn’t mean that we can’t debate the idiocy of the decision not to take him. Does it?

  5. Given the way the LAST set of Lions performed, maybe Robshaw should be happy not to be included.

  6. robshaw should go but i dont like o’sheas team. not sure where hes going with that. as for glasgow, i dont see any hope of them getting to playoff final but who knows!

  7. ‘unmitigated disaster for the Lions’ ? eh ? hardly, they lost the series 2-1 beating the Boks 9-28 in the last test, otherwise went unbeaten during the rest of the tour, don’t see where you get ‘unmitigated disaster’ from ?.

      1. 2005 was a disaster. a whitewash, and getting smashed in the tests. 2009 was a much closer affair. the lions could have (should have?) won the 2nd test, meaning it would have all been to play for in the 3rd. to me that isnt a disaster.

        Also, some of those lions came home with hugely increased reputations. Roberts and Croft in particular both returned home to be deemed world class when on form. O’Connell proved how outstanding a players he is too, and guys like Adam Jones made sure people know he is one of the best TH in world rugby.

        I wouldnt say it was a disaster, losing 2-1 (and narrowly losing) to the world champs…

  8. He hasn’t gone because the Lions are sadly all about Wales this year. It wouldn’t have fit in having the England captain there.

  9. Leaving Robshaw and Best at home actually starts to make this tour lose credibility. Gatland claims to have thought long and hard about the selection but you wouldn’t think it from looking at the squad. Massive favouritism towards Wales who are unable to beat the wallabies home or away! Makes no sense!
    Another Lions tour defeat on the way i think. Needed to spread the net wider for a test series win.

  10. o’shea has picked a pretty useful team… i wouldnt be surprised to see that, or something similar, run out for the first test.

  11. What I do find a little odd is that Wood and Robshaw miss out but Croft makes it. If the argument against Wood and Robshaw is they were second best in Cardiff (which they were) then why does this not also apply to Croft? I understand how and why Croft will always score highly when you are looking at the “points of difference” with the quality of lineout ball he provides and the pace out wide, but if we find ourselves in a contest as intense and physical as the millenium stadium one (the standard Gatland wants to replicate) I don’t think he’s the right selection.

    Personally I would have picked Robshaw ahead of Croft and had him lead the midweek team. His selfless leadership and work ethic would have been the perfect attributes for the midweek captain in my opinion.

    Whilst I don’t wish an injury on anyone I really hope he does get the chance to join the tour, especially after the disappointment of incorrectly being omitted from the RWC squad.

    1. i agree with you here.

      i think that Wood would have had a legitimate shot over croft too. after all, he brings a similar ability in the lineout, but a much more abrasive style of play at the breakdown than croft. i think he and Lydiate could have been absolute workhorses in the 6 shirts.

      Also if all reports in the media are right, Robshaw is going to be rested for the summer tour to Argentina. To me this suggests that he is tired, and therefore i would see the lions not taking him as a good thing, because they cannot afford to take players who are tired and not able to offer the best. Obviously there is a difference between the perception that Robbo wouldnt have been able to offer his best, and him actually doing it. but the message is pretty clear – he missed out on the lions, so england will rest him because he has played so much rugby. Wood, on the other hand, looks set to lead england in Argentina. with the lions having taken 3 7’s (Rowntree referred to Warburton, Tipuric and SOB as the 3 7’s) this means the lions only have 2 6’s (Croft and Lydiate). If i was gatland i would be more inclined to call up Wood over Robshaw, especially if one of my 6’s got injured (likely with croft and lydiate, as both are more injury prone than the guys touring as 7’s), because Wood will be out playing, not waiting by the phone for a possible call.

  12. Care was never close in my opinion, he hasn’t managed to win the england shirt off youngs and the quins aren’t playing so well at the moment.

    Robshaw is unlucky, I would have picked him any day of the week. However I think that Gat has a plan and has picked the players to mactch that plan.

    Croft plays well on fast hard pitches, he seems to be liked much more outside Engladn than inside, in fact it ws Mcgeechen who lauched his international career. As for his fitness, he has had enough games for the tigers to get up to match speed and he is fresh unlike some guys, this was a plus, he also has Lions experience which probably counted in his favour. Aus lineout can implode at some points and Croft is there to stop them getting quick ball off the back, to run the awesome set plays. Too many coaches rate Croft for me to doubt him.

    I think the risk is Lydaite, he isn’t up to match speed but Gat likes him and I understand why, he jas taken a risk but a valid one considering on his day he is the best 6 in europe. As for only 2 6’s, come on guys O’brain is a 6 seriously speaking, he is first choice in my book, Warbuton can play there as well.

    My team

    15. S Hogg
    14. G North
    13. B O’Driscoll
    12. J Roberts
    11. L Halfpenny
    10. J Sexton
    9. M Phillips
    8. T Faletau
    7. S Warburton
    6. S O’Brain
    5. A-W Jones
    4. P O’Connell
    3. A Jones
    2. T Youngs
    1. C Healy

    I think Faletau is on his own at 8 and the 6 shirt is between lydaiet and O’Brain, depending on form and fitness.

    Halfpenny is amazing and must be in the team, but he is a great winger as well and Hogg I think is the man to come alive on the hard grounds of Aus and give the Lions backs a little X-factor they are lacking at the moment.

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