Outcry over O’Driscoll omission masks other selection issues

Warren Gatland has made quite a statement in dropping the one player people thought would be undroppable after injuries to the other two on-field leaders, Sam Warburton and Paul O’Connell. In leaving out Brian O’Driscoll he has lost the only other player who had a wealth of captaincy experience at international level, and as good a player as Alun-Wyn Jones is, he simply cannot point to this level of experience.

The other slightly surprising side of this decision is that he has not been playing badly. Granted, he hasn’t been the attacking force that he once was, but then which of the backs – other than George North – has really sparkled with ball in hand? Jonathan Davies had a great game against the Waratahs but has been fairly pedestrian other than that – especially last week in the second test. Jamie Roberts’ selection is hugely based on reputation, given that he hasn’t had a good game since Hong Kong. If he is there on reputation, why not O’Driscoll? Their partnership in 2009 was incredibly successful, and most people were hoping it would be rekindled at some point.

The other issue here is that the Welsh duo will not scare the Australians in the slightest. Tuilagi starting may never have been on the cards, but you have to question why. There is no other player in the Lions squad – North aside, once again – than can conjure something from nothing in quite the same way. Likewise, O’Driscoll’s heroics down the years – in this country in the same jersey in 2001 in particular – give him a kind of aura that the Aussies would never ignore. They respect him. The same cannot be said of Roberts and Davies – as good as they are – because the men in gold have simply beaten them plenty of times. There is no fear there.

All this outcry over O’Driscoll’s omission has, however, masked some other intriguing and potentially worrying selection decisions. Richard Hibbard comes in at hooker in place of Tom Youngs, who must be the most unlucky of all the dropped players. The England hooker has had a fine tour and has been comfortably the most successful line-out thrower. Hibbard has been selected for one reason – he is bigger.

This trend continues into the back-row. Dan Lydiate is a big man who loves to tackle, and Sean O’Brien is one of the best ball-carriers in the squad. Together, however, the combination lacks the guile that the inclusion of Croft or Tipuric would have added. The line-out is sure to take a hit as well, although the scrum looks set to be very powerful.

Toby Faletau’s inclusion is the correct one, given Heaslip’s questionable form and the overall balance of the back-row, not to mention the big Tongan-come-Welshman’s exemplary performances this tour. Along with the other two it is a back-row combo brimming with power and a high work-rate. Mike Phillips getting the nod is another case of power and reputation trumping form and pace/guile. Ben Youngs can feel hugely aggrieved to not even be in the squad, after being forced to play a way that is alien to him last week. From Gatland’s point of view, though, he does not fit the mould of what he wants to his scrum-half to do.

The bench is also a little worrying. While the inclusion of Tuilagi is to be commended – he should have been given a go last week – Conor Murray’s selection is not right. As well as he played off the bench last week, his style is too similar to that of Phillips and Youngs would have been the right call alongside one of either Murray or Phillips. Richie Gray gets the token Scottish bench spot – if Corbisiero had failed to recover and Grant had been there, would he would have been sacrificed for Evans? The most worrying thing about the bench is the lack of a plan B – if Gatland’s game-plan isn’t working after 60 minutes, where are the players with a bit of spark that will make a difference?

What it comes down to is that Gatland has given up all pretence of wanting to play any other way than how he did with Wales. Hibbard over Tom Youngs; O’Brien over Tipuric; Phillips over Ben Youngs; Davies over O’Driscoll; it is a selection based purely on power, designed to bash the Australians into the ground. If it works – even if it is a dire game that the Lions sneak by one point – nobody will care. All that will be remembered will be the win.

If, however, the Lions lose and play as we expect them to, Gatland has some serious questions to answer over his selection decisions. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

134 thoughts on “Outcry over O’Driscoll omission masks other selection issues

  1. Keep the ball, crash away, phase after phase, the dam wall will break eventually. Even if it hasn’t been busted open by 60 mins more plan A can work if the men in gold have already made 120+ tackles. In a must win game I think Gatland had little choice but to move his chips all in.

    Tired fringe defences are perfect for Ben Youngs, I can’t see the logic for omitting him from the 23 completely. I don’t know how you reach that decision. Youngs actually has a better strike rate than Genia, Murray has scored 1 try in 20 tests.

  2. Great article,

    hit the nail on the head.

    I knew he would go for a power game, it is his go to plan, but like you said there is no plan B, there hasn’t been all tour, if we can’t gring them then it is over.

    Much like Wales if you can take them on and stop them at the gainline then they are out of ideas.

    Tom youngs is unlucky, he is more actice in the loose and a better thrower than Hibbard, The Lions backrow doesn’t offer many lineout options and it is going to put a lot of pressure on parling and AWJ. With CORBs back in the team you don’t need hibbard in the scrum, but corbs won’t last the 80 and mako will come on with youngs completely depowering the scrum, stupid. you are better bringing hibbard on with mako.

    Lydaite, Phillips, and Davis are all there because they are his favs. Roberts included non of them have done anything worth talking about on tour. Roberts was worth the risk in my opinion.

    This is not a great AUS team and this Lions team could very well, I hope, win the game.

  3. Agreed. I don’t think the issue is the amount of Welsh players, after all all of them suit the gameplan which Gatland is clearly trying to play with more than the option. The problem for me is the bench, with the exception of Tipuric the bench is even more wallop-it-up-and-smash-them-to-bits than the XV is. Hardly impact. More like plan A taken to the next level.

  4. This piece is terrible. I’ll demonstrate this by quoting two sections.

    “Tuilagi starting may never have been on the cards, but you have to question why. There is no other player in the Lions squad – North aside, once again – than can conjure something from nothing in quite the same way.”

    “The most worrying thing about the bench is the lack of a plan B … where are the players with a bit of spark that will make a difference?”

    So which is it?

    Plenty of other specious reasoning in it.

    1. I think the point is that the bench is very similar to the starting line up. When you consider the likes of Croft, Youngs, BOD or Hogg could be there for a bit more subtlety, the overall point he is trying to make is right.

    2. Thanks for the feedback. What I meant was there is nothing different coming from the bench – Tuilagi is capable of making something from nothing, but to say he has a ‘spark’ is a step too far. He is a similar player to Roberts, which is what I was driving at. Youngs, Hogg, Croft – these are guys that can offer something different to the players starting.

      Do let me know what else you disagree with.

  5. “Token Scottish spot” indeed. Will be interesting to see if a Scot actually gets on this tour.

    I can’t work out if the general Scottish disgruntlement about Grant not getting on/Hogg being played out of positi

    1. Oops!

      */other players (Brown, Scott, Laidlaw) not being selected is justified or if the Scottish players really are just not good enough. It’s frustrating especially given Glasgow’s success in the pro12 this season and Scotland outperforming Ireland in the Six Nations. Very difficult to look at it objectively…

  6. Once again I want to stress that I’m Irish. BOD is past it, physically and more importantly, mentally. He’s not at the races. I won’t be blaming Gatland if we lose the final test. What I will blame Gatland for is not encouraging a more attacking style of play.

  7. Still can’t get my head around the selection. He has literally gone for the biggest players. No looking at performances to skill, just who weighs more?

    Really is baffling.

    I just hope the Lions win of my dislike for Gatland might even manage to increase…

  8. Spot on analysis . Deans must be licking his lips. No defensive worries for him here.I’ll Name 3 players that can score a try 50 meters out,Ben Youngs ,Tom Croft, and Manu.Only one of them is in the squad.Its going to take a moment of brilliance from someone like that to give us a chance of winning. As they have shown already Australia will offer at least parity if not edge up front regardless of who we pick,so if we are still in the game at 60 mins we need an impacting bench. The absence of croft and Youngs is a mistake. I agree with Hibbard starting,because Youngs offers a better impact and AWJ is a great option for captain

      1. I think the point is that Aus expect it from North, Halfpenny and Bowe, but someone like Croft or running in a 50 metre try from a scrum, ineout or in the midfield is unpredictable, and the same with Youngs. He can pick the smallest hole and snipe his way through with his pace, and against tired legs that’s what you need. So to have neither on the bench makes no sense. This team is predictable, and the Aussies will not be worried by anyone in this line up.

    1. Not sure I agree with that completely. I’m pretty sure North can, as can Bowe. I wouldn’t say many else can though without it being handed on a play to them – maybe BOD if he still had the legs?

      1. Croft

        Can’t say either of these are handed on a plate. Pace and sheer guile for both. Can’t see Phillips, Murray, Lydiate, O’Brien, or Faletau scoring these. Not against Australia anyway. Tipuric possibly, but by the time Gatland brings him on (if at all), it will probably be too late to make a difference.

        1. I obviously meant Bowe and North that are playing – I had previously agreed that Croft, Youngs and Tuilagi could all do it as well.

  9. Even before selection had started I quite openly stated that BOD would be lucky to be on the plane. Sentiment has no place on a tour of this nature. Yes there were question marks over the centres that the party could take, but now in reflection, and yes reflection is a wonderful thing, would it not have been better to have had 36, or Barritt there from the start and not BOD. Yes injuries have meant that centre partnerships have not been allowed to develop as the tour has progressed, I would really have like to have seen Davies and Tuilagi together. However would we all be blogging about this as the most important issue before next Saturdays show down if BOD had not been on the plane in the first place. Gatland has played his hand and WIN or lose he will get a pat on the back from me for being honest and sticking to his game plan to beat the Aussies and not cowering to the armchair and commentator coaches. Lions by 5

  10. Surprised as anyone by teh omission of BOD but other than some decent defence, we haven’t seen a huge amount from him – because he had Davies inside him maybe, who knows?

    JD is going to have to massively step up on Sat as at the moment I can imagine AAC and the Aussie wingers are rubbing their hands at the thought of facing him.

    Think the Youngs bros will be mightily peeved. As will Croft

    But its not the selection so much as the tactics.

    Gatland has repeatedly proved that the Welsh power game does not work against the Wallabies. So given the chance to mix it up a bit with some other nationalities, he’s gone for…MORE POWER

    There’s no subtlety, no plan B.

    If Genia has Phillips in his pocket (as he always does), then what’s the plan? Well it seems to be … MORE POWER – bring on Philips Mark 2.

    If the centres have no penetration, what’s the plan? MORE POWER – bring on Tuilagi

    Tipuric is the only one who is slightly different, and I’ll bet he doesn’t get on the pitch

    Last week’s tactics were woeful. You have players like Youngs, Sexton, BOD, North and Bowe and what’s the plan? Keep it defensive, crash it up the middle and then kick for territory / hoist an up and under. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sexton play so deep.


    IF Hibbard can throw straight. IF Phillips decides he can be arsed. IF Roberts makes the hard yards. IF Davies can free the wings and defend his channel. IF Sexton plays flat and put his backs through the gaps. IF the game plan involves playing North through the middle, supported by SOB, JD and Bowe. IF all this happens, then we can win this game.

    If not, well, Aussies by 15 I reckon

    BTW – can we please see some attacking play from Ha’penny this week. We know he can kick and defend. Let’s see him attack – he is effective when he does

    1. Don’t worry about MP Pablito, MP is a BIG match player, as is JR. All those other losses against Aus weren’t important but THIS ONE IS.

      I do wonder why Gat persists with Sexton – and doesn’t go with Farrell who is the better defender or better yet why didn’t he fly in Andy Goode – certinly “fills” the bill in terms of size criteria.

        1. B&M is the most pro-Welsh rugby blog EVER. I’m convinced Lee is not actually English. Seriously I’m sure there are some non-biased support for this selection (and I am being somewhat tongue in cheek/ mischevious in my comments) but B&M is not one of them. C’mon you know how much he loves the Welsh team.

          1. Benjit, I criticise and praise all teams fairly open-mindedly I think. This is what I said about Wales in the Autumn internationals, for example.

            “For John Keats, autumn was the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness; thus far for Wales it has been the season of SHIT and raging timidness. Their forwards have been bullied by the packs of second/third-tier Southern Hemisphere nations, and the backs have been without guidance, sense or skill.

            And I was critical of Warburton all the way through the 6N, so I’m not sure how you get that I’m pro-Welsh.

            I praised them highly after the insurance job they did on us in Cardiff, but they deserved that and no-one can question it.

      1. So how do you explain Phillips the “big match player” in the first test? Was he already carrying an injury? If so why was he playing?

        1. I was attempting wit/ ironry (clearly failed) – but this is what a lot of fans/ experts have been saying about MP, hence my comment about all the other matches he played “not being important”

  11. Apart from the Welsh and the Aussies, I imagine the only other person really happy with this selection and game plan is Andy Robinson. Tindall, Noon, Cohen and Lewsey may in some cases the lesser in class to their Lions counterparts but the effect is much the same – bosh, bosh, bosh. It was boring then and england were rightly slated (often by their own fans) such a shame that some fans are so one eyed as to not recognise their hypocrisy now.

      1. Ask Matt Rogers! But I take your point. Players like Lewsey and Cohen were capable of so much more as are North and Bowe. Sadly they have been lumbered with one-dimensional coaches – albeit Gatland has been more successful than Robbo ever was – I wonder whether that is the opposite of a blessing in disguise

        1. Yeh I would put Lewsey in the North catergory in terms of play. Big and strong but my no means a bosh merchant. The other players I’ll agree with. I think Lewsey won everything there is to win during his career so his coaches must have been doing something right! In fact, Gatland was with Lewsey at Wasps!

  12. “There is no other player in the Lions squad – North aside, once again – than can conjure something from nothing in quite the same way”.

    Look, I think Tuilagi is the real deal. Rough around the edges, needs work. But over the last few weeks he seems to have morphed into being the ultimate cross of Shane Williams, Christian Cullen and Stirling Mortlock. He can dance. He can bust. He can offload like magic. He’s enhanced his rep this much all without playing… I cannot agree with what you’ve said here Jamie – JD’s break and flick pass to North against Ireland, O’Briens busts, 1/2ps counter attacking. Tuilagi is not, by any stretch, the only game maker. Let’s also forget that he can be a bit hit and miss – not giving try scoring passes, choosing the wrong line, etc. Why would the Aussies be terrified of him? Has he ever beat them? Has he ever been in a side that beat Wales? has he even scored against Wales? NO to all of those so while I myself would have been happy to have seen a Tui/BOD centre pair I have to say that it would not have been much better than what we now have.

      1. Nads Anarky, facts were never my strong point. I’m more about the histrionics and the ranting. I do arguments by bashing straight up the middle, overpower with lots of words. Can’t think of where I got that from.

    1. Has he ever been in a side that beat Wales? has he even scored against Wales? Yes he has on his debut.


      The question I ask is have Roberts and Davies ever scored or assisted in a score against Australia, and have they ever been in a team that beat Australia? I don’t know but Tuilagi has come close on both.

    2. “Look, I think Tuilagi is the real deal. Rough around the edges, needs work. But over the last few weeks he seems to have morphed into being the ultimate cross of Shane Williams, Christian Cullen and Stirling Mortlock. ”

      finally some insightful and reasoned analysis from Brighty!

    3. Actually Brighty, the simple fact is that Tuilagi has played better than Roberts on this tour. He isn’t perfect (your trying to spin that one) but he is better.

      1. Staggy, and that’s why I said Tui/BOD would have been a good pair. I’m not spinning anything, just saying that claiming that Tuilagi is the only non-Gog player in the entire squad who is a game maker is taking it way, way too far. I wonder of Jamie, the Tigers fan, got a bit carried away with his assessment of his favourite centre! (Look, I get accused of bias all the time….).

        1. You did make a general comment saying that over the last few weeks he has morphed into….etc etc. I haven’t seen this massive sea change in the opinion of him over the last few weeks and therefore I suggested that you were spinning this one to suit your particular point. I stand by my assessment.

          Personally I think that the best centre pairing that I have seen on tour was BOD and Tuilagi. BoD has the knowledge of how to exploit the holes that Tuilagi makes. This is what Wales have done so well over the years with Roberts and latterly JD.

          If you want me to back up your argument, I could say that Tuilagi created enough holes in the AB’s midfield to make Brad Barritt look like Fofana. I rest my case!

  13. The last thing I would say – the constant mantra is that Plan A doesn’t work. If you take on Wales and stop their plan A then they lose. Everyone loves to now call Wales boring, because they all have lovely open gameplans like the free scoring English side that topped the try scoring stats in the 6N … (sarcasm after reading so much guff about how poor Wales are).

    My answer to all of this would be

    a) Yes, stop us and you beat us. Only NH side to do that in two years was Ireland. Once.

    b) Plan A got us extremely close to beating the Aussies. I find it hard to believe that it was Plan A that was the difference, if we’d gone for free running Plan B then we’d have beaten them easily. What lost us those matches was the tiny decisions in test matches e.g. England v Wales last year (not this) – the 1/2 holdup over the line. Two well matched teams. Wales won. Does that mean Wales are amazingly better than Eng? No, and most people here agree. However, a lot of the same people say Wales will never beat Aus despite losing matches in similar ways.

    Just be happy – if the Lions win you can cheer, if the Lions lose you can cheer that those damn Welsh and their stupid coach lost the series for you. You can’t lose.

    1. “Just be happy – if the Lions win you can cheer, if the Lions lose you can cheer that those damn Welsh and their stupid coach lost the series for you. You can’t lose.”

      The man makes a good point!

      But Brighty given that Wales have had so many near misses over the last 18mths or so – why will it be different this time? Do the likes of Bowe, Sexton, Corbs, Parling and SOB make this a materially better side in both skill and psyche? Because the latter must surely be huge – the psychological edge. Plus given the furore over BOD – I imagine JR and JD2 must be under even more pressure (if that is possible).

      It makes it a facinating contest for the neutral – really looking fwd to it.

      1. Benjit, if the same Wales side that played Aus last year were playing them right now I still don’t think the result would be a foregone conclusion. The matches were surely too close to just assume Aus would always win them? That’s sort of my point – losing test matches to Aus by less than a score doesn’t mean the Welsh are a shameful bunch of losers who will never beat Aus, in the same way that if Scotland played Aus right now it would not be a foregone conclusion that they would win, and … does anyone seriously think that if England played NZ right now it would be an almost certain win for England?

        1. I take you’re point – but if Eng played NZ tomorrow you wouldnt bet against Eng, and nor would the players – which is more my point. Clearly Wales are capable of beating Aus, and have done in the past, but they must also be capable of beating the All Blacks – and yet it often feels like they don’t beleive they can?

          Ofcourse this all could be a double bluff from Gatland. In the 2nd test he gets non-Welsh players to play the welsh game plan, now he picks a welsh dominated team to play like the ABs. Don’t be surpised to see Roberts try a spencer style banana kick to North! The aussies will never see it coming.

          1. If you could guarantee a Roberts banana kick up field for North to gather and trot over for the winning score, I would drop everything, and do whatever it takes to get a flight and tickets for the match!! That really would be something to see.

  14. I reckon this article is spot on.

    This is the ‘slabs of red meat’ Australia have been expecting.

    Frankly, I see this as an attempt to recreate the Wales-England match of the six nations.

    The issue is: no plan B, and Australia have beaten these tactics time and time again.

    Once again, it will come down to scrummaging. This Lions team should edge us at scrum time. If penalties start to flow, the scoreboard will start ticking over.

    However, this forward pack will be knackered come the 60 minute mark. if the Wallabies are within ten points with 20 mins to go, They’ll win.

  15. Benjit, that’s because he loves winners who play exciting rugby … I’ll get my coat….

  16. Well “the white orcs on steroids” did win a RWC, so maybe the “Red Lions on steroids” can win a Lions series.

    1. not meaning to start a massive argument, but the white orcs on steroids happened to be (excluding steve thompson lets say) extremely skillful white orcs on steroids

  17. I thank Brighty for peddling my wares on here re: the selection.

    To clarify, I believe that the BOD selection could have gone either way, but it is certainly not as much of a howler as many are making out.

    Many other positions have debate about them, but there are no obvious outstanding candidates not in the squad.

  18. Lee I can’t reply to you so having to reply to myslef. Look I love your site (esp. Game plans explained) and I would not accuse you of not being fair or blindly loyal. But from tone/ views on your blog I always assumed you were welsh until you commented otherwise. You often seem to give them the benefit of the doubt whilst sometimes being v. Critical of eng. Always a riot to read tho.

  19. Maybe Jamie Hosie should have been the Lions coach ? he seems to know it all & has all the answers !.

    1. Steve, this an opinion piece, as the majority of things on this site are. As such, it reflects my opinion and nothing else. Please feel free to leave yours as well.

  20. About time bod got dropped. Apart from tipric not starting instead of lydiate this is the best possible team and lions are sure to score tries on sat. 11-15 lions

  21. Its his last lions tour obviously and hes been in pretty good form compared to whats been on offer, his experience and occasion alone should be enough to put him in the starting team. He always plays well against the Wallabies as well. Shit selection.

  22. Gatland’s style has been fantastically successful in the last 4 years against European opposition (even in the RWC 2011 where Wales’ only victory over a tier 1 nation was against Ireland). But it has been disastrous against the Tri Nations (0 wins from 16 matches, including 0 wins from 8 against Australia). the bully boy doesn’t work against them

    The Australians will happily play the “dope on a rope” role in the match; take the punches and then counter punch.

    And, as the blog points out, Gatland has weakened his line out – big mistake, particularly against the Australians

    Can we really see anything but an OZ victory?

  23. How do you reconcile criticism of omitting Tuilagi from the starting XV on basis he can create “something out of nothing” with the assertion that there in no Plan B on the bench…..when the very same Tuilagi will be positioned on that bench? Does creating something out of nothing not represent Plan B? That’s all, as you were.

    1. I probably should have phrased that better. What I meant was that Tuilagi plays in a very similar style to Roberts, thus not offering anything different (a plan B) from the bench. I do, however, think he is better at what he does (in attack, at least) than Roberts – he is much more powerful and can offload better.

      What I was driving at is that the bench selection does not suggest Gatland plans to change the way he plays at all. If after 60 minutes bashing them into submission isn’t working, the subs will come on and they will bash a little harder.

      1. Jamie, Brilliant summary of Gatlands Game play :-)I think you and I could have picked a side with more flourish and skill over a couple of pints.

        What I was driving at is that the bench selection does not suggest Gatland plans to change the way he plays at all. If after 60 minutes bashing them into submission isn’t working, the subs will come on and they will bash a little harder.

  24. I think we should of picked Jonah Lomu wearing a tin foil hat and both Underwood brothers!


    (Daddy Did Dislike)

  25. Pity Gatland can’t select the referee . 10 Welshmen and Steve Walsh , that really would be an unbeatable combination . Sorry ! Forgot Walsh is Australian .
    If the Lions tour again lets hope they have coaches who can select a team with a bit of untapped potential in it . Form from four years ago has no relevance . Even heard McGeechan talking about some crash ball move involving Roberts and Phillips as if it could be wheeled out next Saturday . The Aussies have played two games without a number ten . Quade Cooper in form and the points differential would be out of sight .

    1. oh god, i just remembered, its Romain Poite isn’t it, ahhhh balls we are gonna have to listen to the Aussie commentators taking the piss out of him because he is from a nation with some culture

  26. What the Lions need for the next tour in four years is a coach who (like McGeechan previously) is not connected to any of the home nations. I vote Martin Johnson!!!! Lol

  27. Not sure why Davies is there. He has has great warm ups but bad tests. The ‘big game’ player that is so obviously needed is BOD. Also Tuilagi coming on in place of Roberts looked mouthwatering after the game he played with O’Driscoll against Tah’s. Gatland”s massive problem is that he never had a selected side from the start, even including injuries.

  28. Seems there where two factors used for the Selection. Are they Welsh? and as my School Coach would say “A Good Biggun will always beat a good Littlun”

    We will not be watching much in terms of Silky skills and rugby at the weekend.

    Lets just hope the “Bashem” style works?

  29. Controversial selections or not, this team is good enough to beat an Aussie side that has a patently out of position player at 10, a tight 5 that are good without being outstanding and a coach who is not exactly universally respected.

    What need to be correct however, are the tactics. If they play with the defensive mind-set of last week, then all is lost and would have been so, no matter who we put on the pitch

    If Gatland can use the skills of players like Sexton, Bowe, Corb, Parling and SOB + the bench and ally them to the undoubted abilities of Welsh boys he knows so well, in a game plan that is aggressive and attacking, then the Lions can definitely win

    If though, the Lions get the ball and the first thing we see is Sexton standing deep and launching rather aimless garryowens, then we’ve lost

    SOB and Faletau need to use their runs to keep the aussie back row occupied (although with support and not into blind alleys) and Sexton needs to stand flat and put the men with pace and speed into the gaps that will be there at some point.

    North and Bowe need to go looking for work and Halfpenny needs to join the line more

    Here’s hoping this all happens…

    1. That’s a lot of if’s mate and your being pretty dismissive and arrogant towards Australia. They are a lot better than people give them credit for, especially Lions fans.

      Gatland has used the same tactics against Australia, the last 8 times a team of his has played them. Can’t see anything changing.

      1. Disagree with my view of the Aussie team by all means but I’d like you to explain how its dismissive or arrogant.

        You could also give me the benefit of your insight on why what I’ve said about them is incorrect

  30. Our team is still good enough to win this match definitely, but we could really have used BOD’s experience on the pitch, he is just the kind of guy you’d want in a test decider, In BOD’a last hurrah not to give him a chance seems ridiculous, I could understand if BOD was weakening the team, but he is not a worse 13 than Jonathan Davies is and what he provides mentally could have been pivotal, I don’t think Gatlands game plan has helped him hugely and obviously himself and Davies haven’t clicked but I think it’s too big a risk to leave out a guy of his stature without giving him a chance beside someone suited to his style, we saw how good he was outside Tuilagi, anyway lets hope it doesn’t impact the match but if we lose, Gatland is in for it, if he played BOD and we lost there wouldn’t have been much of a backlash, don’t know why Youngs isn’t starting, his lineout throwing has been more consistent that Hibbard and he offers more around the pitch, think of the impact it could have on our scrum if we bring Mako and Youngs off the bench, such a loss of power. We could miss having the extra lineout option so I would’ve gone for Croft over Lydiate, but I suppose Lydiate is the kind of guy you’d want in a 1 test shoot out so I can’t complain too much, SOB has been great all tour but I would’ve have gotten him at 6 and played Tips at 7, if George Smith is playing you’d like to have a breakdown specialist up against him, but let’s hope SOB has a big one, glad to see him playing, , glad Gray is on the bench, could add some real impetus if we’re struggling, I’m glad Faletau is getting his chance he’s been too good on tour not to be given the chance to shine in a test. Phillips will hopefully bring his game, I think he is the safe option so I’m glad he is playing but Youngs would’ve added something different off the bench, if Phillips is struggling the likelihood is Murray will struggle too, Sexton needs to play way flatter like he usually does and orchestrate the game a bit better, needs to take charge, Roberts needs to have a big game, we need to get over the gain-line and get quick ball out to our backs, glad Manu is on the bench he has the potential to be a match winner, however him and Roberts playing together would really lack a bit of guile and good distribution skills, as said Bowe and North need to involve themselves more, but they also need given more ball to get in the game with, Halfpennys kicking is brilliant but he has contributed very little so far in attack, he hasn’t joined the line very often and this is what we need of him, I’m worried our back line lacks a little guile but lets hope I’m wrong and we can win! C’MON LIONS! :-)

  31. Never mind BOD (as controversial as that may be), as a Scott what I can’t understand it why you would take 3 (+1) Scots on tour and not even give by far the most talented of the four a place in a test side. Hogg could cover most of the back position expect maybe 9 off the bench and has the line breaking ability to make something happen unlike anyone else on the team other than North.

    He has had no chance to impress as Gatland had played him out of position for the entire tour. I accept that he is not going to get on in front of Halfpenny (although he is a better fullback) as they heed halfpennies kicking, but if he had played in position mid week he would have got a start and could have covered the back three and in an emergency 10, 12 or 13.

    1. I really like Hogg, think he’s an exceptionally talented player who will have a great career. History seems to be going through somewhat of an editorial though, he started at fullback in 2 of the first 3 tour games, didn’t perform that well (just OK) and was a bit suspect in defence. There was no sign of the player that made the scorching breaks in the first couple of rounds of the 6N. He wasn’t a form pick.

      Given he clearly wasn’t in contention for a back 3 shirt at that stage, seeing what he could offer as 10 cover was a pretty reasonable decision. No Scots were complaining about him playing 10 after the first game went really well, there were lots of suggestions that this proved he should get the 22 shirt ahead of Farrell. Behind a beaten pack against the Brumbies it just exposed where he is at as a 10, everyone became an expert in hindsight.

    2. I don’t think he has been treated fairly – his versatility has been used against him – Gatland should have taken 3 Flyhalves and let him have a crack at Fullback

      1. Agreed. He’s not the only player who has been asked to either play out of position (centres) or play to a gameplan that doesn’t necessarily suit their strengths (anyone not Welsh) though, but I do think he’s been treated badly. Hats back up fh plan went to pot when wilko went off to have surgery.

  32. Roberts is very lucky, Tuilagi has comfortably been better than him by some distance for the last 2 seasons and all tour.

    BOD hasn’t played well in the tests, but JD has played worse (albeit out of position).

    Hibbard’s lineout is pretty average. Croft should be starting. At least Faletau has come in and SOB.

    Give North and Bowe some ball! Use Halfpenny in attack more! Don’t just settle for defence.

    Phillips has better play well, having forced out the superior Youngs. He completely failed to physically impose himself on Genia before.

  33. I just can’t understand it. Everything I read tells me parling was lucky to keep his place. No one has explained why, just as no one has explained why lydiate has kept his. Parling has been one of the players of the tour for me. Does all the work of a backrow as well as the lock essentials.

    I don’t know why Gats didn’t just say lets bring in a proven try scorer on the wing, a genuine openside and a bulkier lock and be done with it. At least he has a class fh to run the team so this will just be enough to push Wales over the line.

    On a slightly more humerous note I did rather like Carlings tweet when he congratulated Sexton, bowe and O’Brien on their first Welsh caps!

      1. Spot on Anarky – the team was English dominated in 97 tests as well. That’s the key though – picking a load of English guys seems to be “on merit”. Picking a load of Welsh guys must be purely bias. The sad abuse of the Welsh, the casual racism in some of these comments, is ridiculous.

        1. For anyone interested..

          1st test: 9E, 1W, 4S, 1I
          2nd test: 11E, 2W, 1S, 1I
          3rd test: 11E, 2W, 1S, 1I

          1st test: 6E, 3W, 3S, 3I.
          2nd test: 7E, 2W, 3S, 3I.
          3rd test: 9E, 2W, 2S, 2I.

          1st test: 8E, 3W,1S, 3I.
          2nd test: 8E, 3W, 1S, 3I.
          3rd test: 9E, 2W, 1S, 3I.

          1st test: 8E, 4W,0S, 3I.
          2nd test: 6E, 6W, 0S, 3I.
          3rd test: 5E, 5W, 0S, 5I.

          1st test: 4E, 6W, 0S, 5I.
          2nd test: 2E, 6W, 0S, 7I.
          3rd test: 5E, 5W, 0S, 4I.

          1. I understand picking 10 Welsh bring up this debate – but I don’t see why it’s relevant. Every tour the squad gets picked – we all say “They’re all Lions now”, then a test team is picked and we all count how many of “our guys” are in. Why? I personally don’t really care.

            I may occasionally lean towards the English player, but that’s more because I watch them week in week out, not bias. The Welsh guys in particular I only ever see during International periods – I don’t watch much Pro 12 and they often aren’t in the later stages on the Heineken.

            The point is, what happened to everyone’s earlier, “They are all Lions”?

        2. Accusations of racism are going a bit far Brighty.

          Still, an unbelievably stupid article. Its not the first time the Lions have been dominated by one nation.

          Articles like this are indicative of the idiotic, knee-jerk journalism that makes up the press nowadays. It was the same problem with Cleary and his ilk during the world cup. If there isn’t some kind of scandal, they’ll try their hardest to make one out of nothing

          I don’t entirely agree with the number of welsh players in the team, but that’s because I think there are a couple of better players who should be in there. It makes bugger all difference which nationality they are.

          1. Pablito, a direct quote from the article – “I’m a Englishman and to be honest cannot stand the welsh but..”. replace “Welsh” with any country/race you want and then tell me that isn’t racist. The article itself has this “..the giant gene pool from the valleys..”. I find “valleys” references racist. I’m not going to sing and dance about it, I know a lot of people think it’s quaint or amusing, much like Garcia probably thought his fried chicken joke was. I find it offensive – it’s grossly reductive, ignorant and only ever used in the pejorative. So unfortunately for me I find it racist. I fear I’m going way off track here but couldn’t avoid the chance to please politely ask for “Taffy” and “valleys” references to be left out. This is the last time I will ever mention it. Sorry.

          2. Nuts, I meant that direct quote was from a comment, the top comment when I initially read the article.

        3. couldn’t reply to your racism discussion,so replying here, if you replaced welsh with French then it wouldn’t be racist :P

        1. The fact is these 10 Welshman aren’t the best players, and they certainly aren’t the best combination to beat Australia.

    1. Keith Wood is an idiot who is throwing around stupid “tradition” rubbish to hide the fact that what has really annoyed the Irish is that their beloved Talisman has been left out. Final test, 1997, Keith Wood played in a team with 9 English men. I don’t recall him talking about the Lions tradition being pissed on then? What is this Lions tradition that demands quotas? Wherw were all the people saying how disgraceful it was on this and the last decades tours that Scotland were being largely left out?

      I couldn’t give a stuff how annoyed the Irish are about BOD being left out if all they do is go on about him being a legend, it being disrespectful, it being his last chance to bow out on a high, etc. The Lions is not an old boys club – if Gats kept BOD in there just because of who he is then I would be be even more annoyed by his selection.

      As for leadership – both he and Heaslip were on the field for the first two tests. In the first Warbs had to tell BOD to back away from the ref as BOD was losing it. In both tests Heaslip was anonymous. Heaslip was widely regarded as a very poor captain in the six nations, he looked much better when the captaincy was removed.

      So Oran, when you say Gats has lost it remember to add what is really bothering you – he’s picked too many players from the double European Champions.

      1. Don’t agree with this at all Brighty. I honestly think Gatland has had some howlers in selection – but it’s got nothing to do with nationalities.

        Example – very happy to see Roberts over Tuilagi beacause of his leadership, they will both get us over the gain line but Roberts has more exeprience in the 12 channel.

        I will also say that I think he is mad picking Davies, Phillips and to an lesser extent Lydiate. I’d have had Youngs, BOD and Croft personally – I think they are a much more exciting players. The three players that were picked were based on their weight, not their talent or form, that is what I have issue with.

        1. Jacob – in your opinion those 3 players were picked ahead of your options purely because of weight. In your opinion and that is fine and what the debate is all about. I, and many, many others who I have quoted this week and last, disagree about Croft for example and in fact think Lyds was a standout forward last weekend… This is my opinion. So we differ and this is fine. Where it goes too far is to assume your opinion is right and therefore to assign motives for selection that you cannot possibly now i.e. the logic of a lot of people goes like this. “Player A is better than the selected Player B. This is a fact. Therefore Gats has only selected Player B because they are big/Welsh/his-favourite/all-three.” The real moaners then go on to take this further statement of motive as a fact (this is hilarious, they make up Gats motives in their own heads and then move to that being a fact), and then criticise Gatland for these imaginary motives. It’s hysterical and, to answer one of your earlier posts about why the “we’re all Lions now” mood has dissipated, completely expected once the team didn’t win the series – because of course we didn’t win (yet?) because Gats is biased, pissing on Lions tradition, etc. It’s like people were waiting for him to do what they expected him to do and when it didn’t win they couldn’t wait to unload?

          1. Oman’s comment was about a disgraceful selection, not nationalities. I was simply backing up his point.

            It seems to me that more Welsh are defending the selection that there is anyone criticizing it based on nationalities. I’m fully aware there are people arguing the tradition side, blah blah blah, but it’s a minority.

            As you know Brighty I’m happy to debate selection all day, and I know we’ll never agree on Croft/Lydiate or Youngs/Phillips, but it isn’t nationalistic, I like a lot of Welsh guys, and if I was picking it it’d be Welsh dominated.

        1. Guess that shows how poor Gats options are then given that even though we don’t have that SH win we have dominated European rugby for two years. I do love a sore loser – “you may have beaten us, twice and well, but until you beat this other team that we beat it doesn’t count…” I remember it well from primary school.

          1. Brighty – really not worth engaging with trolls who come on and write one silly line to get a reaction

          2. Dominating European rugby for two years doesn’t mean a damn thing if you can’t do it when it matters agains the big guns.

            6 defeats in a row against Australia is quite frankly embarrassing. What’s worse is that Gatland has learnt nothing from any of them. He doesn’t tweak his tactics or try something different, no he tries the same bash and crash and defend tactic which isn’t effective against them.

            Sore loser has nothing to do with it. I don’t know if he is a troll but you can’t argue with his statement.

            Nick Mayhew is completely correct. The Welsh players and Welsh tactics don’t beat SH opposition and that’s a fact. Gatland had possibly the best selection of home nation players to choose from and he bottled it.

      2. You just need to read what Jacob says below…..sums it up perfectly.
        Nothing to do with Nationality for me….but it is all to do with nationality for Gatland.
        This tour has fallen apart!
        I would not care if he picked 10 welsh guys if they were the best available, but that is not the case.
        Gatland’s selections have been confused and muddled and this one takes the biscuit.
        Massive mistake to allow a current 6 nations team coach to lead the Lions!
        Cant happen again!

  34. Now I don’t buy into this outrage over the Lions tradition just because 10 Welshmen have been picked, as to my mind a Lions coach has to pick the best players, so I do agree with you on that.

    And if 10 Welshmen were the best players in their positions I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, and I wouldn’t be complaining. But their not. Of the 5 that I think got in that aren’t the best in their position, there are a range of reasons. More scrummaging power to the detriment of the loose and the lineout (Hibbard), defensive game plan (Lydiate), power game plan (Phillips), personal preference (JR & JD). And that is the point. Gatland has decided to play “Wales”, because he can’t adapt to the skillsets of the players from the other nations and that is what the fuss is all about. The tradition of the Lions is all about blending the talent available from 4 countries and picking a game plan to make the most of it. Gatland has spectacularly failed to do that and that is what the fuss is all about.

    So you see, Keith Wood might not be so stupid after all!

    1. But Staggy, your entire argument is the one that is the problem. Yes, you may think there are five players there not on merit. I disagree with you. Other people disagree with you.

      So you follow through on this merit argument, seem to think that it is a self evident truth that your selection is the right one, so conclude that therefore this is Welsh bias and is therefore abusing the spirit of the Lions etc. You go further and claim to know exactly why Gatland has selected these players because you cannot get your head around the idea that other people do not agree with your assessment of who is the best. I’m sure you will come back to me and tell me yet again who has played the best, who is there on reputation only, etc. The simple fact is that there is no common agreement on who is the best. That makes sense. It’s those who take that lack of common agreement and try to turn it into a “Welsh” thing who are the issue here.

      So I’m coming back to it – Wood can’t get beyond the fact that we have 10 Welsh players and no BOD yet himself has played in single-nation dominated Lions sides. He is joined by an army of commentators and pundits who, seeing a squad selected that they do not agree with, assume that it must be because of the Welsh because Gatland couldn’t possibly have a different assessment of who is best because they must certainly be right.

    2. He’s decided to play “Gatland”, since when did the traditional values of Welsh rugby be about athletes and winning collisions?

      Shock horror, the Lions head coach implements a game plan that he has been successful with at Wasps, Waikato and Wales rather than inventing something new.

      There isn’t 3 months of touring to figure out the best way of blending the various styles and talents any more. It’s hard enough with 3 or 4 weeks of prep and 6 games against highly variable opposition to even work out the best players or combinations in such a competitive squad.

      So yes this gives an “advantage” to the players that are already familiar with that style. But with such a short prep period trying to create an artificial level playing field by inventing something different and seeing how everyone adapts to it would just be a recipe for a 3 zip loss.

      All he’s guilty of is picking a style of play and a set of players who are most likely to achieve a win. Before the tour there was a lot of focus on the importance of the Lions getting a series win, by any means necessary, to prove the Lions are still relevant and have a future. I don’t care how ugly the win is on Sat, I just want a win!

  35. Oh and for goodness sake stop all of this 6N champions justification as well. Yes you had one good game in the 6N, and you won the championship, but you’re not exactly the AB’s. Yes you have some very good starting players but you’re not twice as good as the remaining countries combined.

    Next you’re be telling me that Lydiate should be starting because he was very good in 2012…….

    1. No I will not stop, it is important. If England had won a bunch of championships and dominated the sides like in oooh, let’s say the whole of the 90s, it would have (and was) part of the rightful justification. If being part of the side that beat all of the other players over the last 2 seasons counts for nothing in your eyes then you are wrong.

      Lyds plays this week because he was fantastic last week. You disagree. McGeechan disagrees with you. We all disagree with each other. The problem is that you, and others, keep turning this into a Welsh issue just because you are not getting what you want.

    2. How about a truce? I won’t mention us beating the whole of the NH regularly over the last 2 years if others stop mentioning us failing to beat Aus? Or does it not work both ways i.e. it’s okay to say the Lions are doomed because Wales can’t beat Aus but not ok to say Wales have the best B+I players because they were in teams that beat all of the other players teams?

      1. Well the whole point of the Lions tour is to win isn’t it?

        If Welsh players and Welsh tactics can’t beat Australia, but they can beat 6 nations teams. Then it seems pretty illogical to me to stack the team full of Welsh players and play Warrenball

      2. Brighty I do agree that we seem to have done this argument to death.

        I would make the point that you forever justify your posts by saying that it is your opinion. My posts are my opinion. I am pleased to say that a number of people hold the same opinion as me and I grant that a number of people hold the same opinion as you.

        Matt, good point and well made and that may be the problem. Maybe the game has got so complex and time is too short for there ever to be a proper lions tour again, and actually it will just be a coach picking a team to play a certain way. If so it is sad and could well doom the ethos that (sort of!) brings us together every 4 years.

        Therefore finally, I don’t agree with Gatlands team selection. I think he has got it wrong for all of my opinion based reasons laid out over the last two days. I think that there is a good chance that we will lose as a result of it. I still hope we don’t and that I have to issue an apology to him on this blog. I will say no more on my perception that this is a rather Welsh orientated team and game plan. I hope that this team and game plan prove me wrong.

        therefore no more to be said on these matters from me. Truce called.

  36. I agree with you Staggy. Although my opinion differs from yours on who the best available players are, i think the coach has to pick the best, or what he believes to be the best players available.

    I’m at a loss though as to the ‘tradition’ argument that is sweeping through the media. The DT article above contains some pretty hateful stuff – and it based soley on the fact that because 10 Welshmen have been selected we’ve insulted the Lions tradition. That for me is unpalatable.

    1. I think it’s more to be with the players that he didn’t select, I’m sure if there were 10 welsh players but O’driscoll had started there wouldn’t be an issue, I’v got no problem with him sticking to his guns but he is so one dimensional in his tactics that I fear the Aussies have already figured him out, he is not letting the players express themselves, I hate to use the whole Wales haven’t beaten Australia argument but he has used the same game plan against them and it hasn’t worked yet, so surely with this extra talent he has from all across the British isles he could vary his game plan slightly, off course you would expect the majority of players to be Welsh as they’ve been the most successful team in the last few years, but it seems for the other players if you can’t adapt to the Wales strategy then you wasted on tour, anyway we’ll see how we go on Saturday hopefully we can put in a big performance.

  37. Sadly the B+I media are doing the Aussie media’s job for them. They are the ones you would expect to be attempting to create divisions, ramp up the pressure with the “Wales can’t beat Australia” rhetoric.

    I have more of an issue with Lancaster’s 6N selection decisions (some of which cost Tom Wood his place on this tour in my opinion) than I have with Gatland’s, so I should stop supporting England right?

    Declan Kidney was a shocking selector, did all the Irish say “he’s not picked my favourite players so I’m not supporting Ireland, I’m cheering on the opposition instead?”

    I just find it rather hypocritical for everyone to tell the Scots “we are all Lions, get behind them, stop concentrating on your own players” when they won’t have had a single Lions test starter for at least 20 years and then chuck the toys out the pram when “too many” of another country have been selected.

    There were 8 Welsh starters in the first test (10 Welsh in the 23). This was fine (because we won). But taking it to 10 Welsh (and 11 in the 23), that is preposterous and an insult to the Lions. One more player in the 23 makes that much of a difference? Seriously?

    So if it’s not about picking one more Welsh player in the 23 it must all be about BOD. I had some initial reservations over his inclusion in the squad that the Lions tour isn’t a 6 week BOD testimonial, that BOD was ‘too big’ to just be a squad player. However he’s completely proved me wrong, he’s been absolutely class on and off the pitch. Despite being gutted at missing out he’s still doing everything he can to prepare the guys for a win. If he can get over the disappointment of missing out on the final test and support the guys that aren’t playing surely those who are mere fans (not legends) should be able to do the same.

      1. Matt, you, Anarky and Brighty (although it pains me to say it) are about the only ones talking sense here.

        We all have differing views about who the best players are and that is only right. Gatland and his coaches will have differing views as well – but those that are chosen have been picked because he believes they are the best combination to win the game – not just because they prefer leeks to roses

        In fact the suggestion that Gatland, who is facing a career-defining test match, has chosen players just due to their nationality rather than their ability to win, is absolutely idiotic

        As for the damn media, God it annoys me. When did they change from writing interesting articles and analysis into a tabloid freak show, blowing things out of proportion and creating divisions just for a good headline. They behaved exactly the same way with England in the RWC

        Almost forgot. Keith Wood – the idea of a Lions tour is to win the matches. Its not some kind of “all must have prizes” infant school games day. Its also not the BOD testimonial tour.

  38. The reason why i don’t give a damn about this Lions tour is because of the complete lack of imagination in the playing style. The whole thing has been boring and stale. 2009 was so much better in every aspect.

    Why the hell should i cheer them on just because of “tradition”. I don’t care about that rubbish.

    This is the weakest opposition the Lions have played against in 30 years or so and Gatland probably had the best Home nations players we’ve ever had at his disposal.

    Gatland selected the wrong players
    Gatland has used the wrong tactics
    Gatland has publicly alienated fans and players

    1. Don’t agree with some of that but I do agree that this has been a rather dull tour, but if we win who cares!

    2. Well, if you don’t give a damn, can I suggest you

      A. Don’t watch it

      B. Stop posting on threads discussing it

    3. Wrong tactics? Gatland plays Gatball – it’s what he does. The sheer level of suprise I have seen on here is beyond me…the moment Gatland was announced we all knew what style he would play. Should he have played better tactics? We don’t really have the centres to pull off a fast and loose style, so a structured game plan involving big hits makes sense – and coupled with the short time together means that a game plan they can all get their heads around (and the majority of players being Welsh, will be used to) makes sense.

      I don’t really see how the tactics can be argued that much. You want to take the Aussies on fast and loose, with their backrow and breakdown and us being a scratch team? Good luck with that…

      Wrong players? Who? Seriously there is the BoD thing, I’d have picked him but JD has been in better form so it would have been harsh. Leaving the sentiment aside there is not much in it other than clinging to the idea that BoD may, perhaps, pull off some magic he hasnt looked like doing.

      Hibbard for T Youngs? Right call imo – T Youngs has been great, but I prefer power to start and the looser player coming off the bench.

      Coribeso? Pretty easy selection?

      Jones? Adam is a God

      AWJ? Form player on tour, deserved capatain

      Parling? Lucky but tbh neither gray or evans have set the world alight. In all honesty the tactics would probably suggest evans (tighter player), but that would be a step too far

      Lydiate – Need his defensive discipline vs Genia far more than croft being out in midfield

      Faletau – was always going to get the nod after SW injury as slightly more power and, more importantly, good fringe defence vs genia and runners

      SoB – won the call vs tips, going for a monster vs a flyer, again dictated by tight play. Not the call I would have made but I can see the reasons.

      Phillips – All those calling for Youngs can now see why he should never have started. Lions tactics at breakdown means slow ball and oppo coming through, phillips’ strength allows him (admitedly with a step or two) to rip out ball and shrug off slaps. Murray hard done by.

      Sexton – no brainer

      Bowe – Better player than Cuthbert, though Cuthbert has a knack of scoring

      Roberts – Need to break that gainline, and gatball says do it at 12 so Tuilagi unlikely. Game revolves around him so was an easy call for Gats to make. And be honest, has any centre set the world alight? Anyone selected would have been ‘lucky’

      JD – ‘lucky’ but just about scraping the ‘form’ centre option,

      North – No Brainer

      Halfpenny – No brainer

      So I simply don’t see how he is using the wrong players

      And God knows how he has alienated the fans? Not picking enough from one country or another? Sorry – I’d rather give us a better chance at winning.

  39. Blimey 130 odd comments you go away for a day or two and thats what happens .

    The too many of one nation breaks the Lions mould debate fueled by the media just appeals to the lowest common denominator and obviously hardly reflects recent Lions history .

    I can’t say that I was particularly happy when the Lions were dominated by English players in the early 90’s but that was more a reaction to the somewhat pathetic state of Welsh rugby at that time rather than an indication that England didn’t deserve to take the Lions share (yes pun intended ). Did I throw my rattle out of the pram and not watch the matches or support the Lions the hell I didn’t and got to see Ieuan Evans smash and grab on Campese as a result and Gibbs’ Os Du Rant moment all enshrined in Lions history .

    So those refusing to watch or support the Lions will be happy to miss say a Sexon drop goal in the last few seconds to win the game or Tuilagi smashing through if he comes on to set up or score the winning try or even Richie Gray lolloping through to score , if so then clearly they need to be watching another game because rugby isn’t for them . As for being a dull tour yes I’ve been really bored so far by two test matches going down to the last kick and with the decider to come .

    If anything Gatland has only now picked the side he would have liked to have gone for in the first place (injuries excepted) to play the kind of game everyone thought the Lions were going to play in the first place .

    I do feel sorry for O’Driscoll but I can see reasons in his play in both tests for dropping him and gutted as he is being the man he is he is supporting the team all the way and it’s a pity that a few of his illustrious compatriots couldn’t measure up to that .

  40. I understand Gatball, but if that is the case why didn’t he play Murray and Tuilagi in the second test as they were the players that best suited that game plan. Can anyone tell me? I’ve called a truce so this isn’t a wind up, it is a genuine question.

  41. For my final, final, final say on this I’d like to appoint the always good value Alfie as my spokesperson

    “Keith Wood said that the decision to drop O’Driscoll was a ‘terrible mistake’. But If I was a coach, I wouldn’t give a shit what Keith Wood said. I wouldn’t give a shit what I said. I wouldn’t give a shit what anyone else said because if they lose then Warren Gatland is going to get his arse dragged across hot coals. Of course, if you take the money you take the shit. However, if they win then people like Keith Wood are going to go back into their hole.”

    Sigh, Gareth Thomas, the only man I’ve ever seen turn Scrum V into a barroom brawl. He is sorely missed.

    1. Just perfect. Well done Alfie. Got it in one

      As I said above, the suggestion that Gatland, who is facing a career-defining test match, has chosen players just due to their nationality rather than their ability to win, is absolutely idiotic

      ‘Course, Alfie put it rather better than me

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