Post-Six Nations Lions Squads

lions
The 6 Nations is done and dusted and so, with great trepidation, here at The Rugby Blog we have each picked a Lions touring squad along with an XV to start the first test. We’re still not sure exactly how many will be in the squad (Gatland has said it will be 35-37), but in the interest of consistency (and making things more difficult for ourselves) we’ve each picked 35. Without further ado, here they are:

Charlie

35-man squad:
Props (6) – Gethin Jenkins, Cian Healy, Ryan Grant, Adam Jones, Dan Cole, Mike Ross
Hookers (3) – Richard Hibbard, Rory Best, Tom Youngs
Locks (5) – Ian Evans, Alun-Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling, Nathan Hines, Joe Launchbury
Back row (6) – Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Chris Robshaw (midweek captain), Jamie Heaslip.
Scrum halfs (3) – Ben Youngs, Mike Phillips, Danny Care.
Fly halfs (3) – Jonny Sexton, Owen Farrell, Freddie Burns
Centres (4) – Jamie Roberts, Manu Tuilagi, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Jonathan Davies
Back three (5) – Tommy Bowe, George North, Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg

Test XV:
1. Healy 2. Best 3. A Jones 4. A-W Jones 5. Parling 6. Warburton 7. Tipuric 8. Faletau 9. Phillips 10. Sexton 11. North 12. Roberts 13. BOD (c) 14. Cuthbert 15. Halfpenny

Wow. This was exceptionally tough, especially after a Six Nations that ripped up the form book before stitching it back together in a thrilling finale. Problem positions for me were the back row – for the crazy abundance of potential options – and fly half – for a distinct lack of them. In the end, Jamie Heaslip ousts Sean O’Brien on the basis of his 2009 experience and the fact that Warren Gatland would pick Dan Lydiate on one leg. Outside of that, Dan Biggar is the only member of the fifteen that started Wales’ Millennium massacre to lose out, purely because Freddie Burns is handed a wildcard.

Other notably unlucky absentees on standby are Euan Murray, Dylan Hartley, Donnacha Ryan, Tom Wood, Ben Morgan, Conor Murray and Alex Goode. Nathan Hines is the only man to come in from the Top 14, ousting Paul O’Connell. The captaincy goes to Brian O’Driscoll on the basis that a three-week suspension can ready his body for an injury-free season’s end. I’ll get my tin hat!

Jamie

35-man squad
Props (5) – Gethin Jenkins, Alex Corbisiero, Cian Healy, Adam Jones, Dan Cole
Hookers (3) – Richard Hibbard, Rory Best, Tom Youngs
Locks (5) – Alun-Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling, Ian Evans, Richie Gray, Joe Launchbury
Back row (7) – Chris Robshaw (capt), Sam Warburton, Sean O’Brien, Toby Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Kelly Brown, Dan Lydiate
Scrum-half (3) – Ben Youngs, Mike Phillips, Greig Laidlaw
Fly-half (3) – Johnny Sexton, Owen Farrell, James Hook
Centres (3) – Jamie Roberts, Manu Tuilagi, Brian O’Driscoll
Back three (6) – George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg, Alex Cuthbert, Simon Zebo, Sean Maitland

Test XV
1. Healy 2. Hibbard 3. A Jones 4. A-W Jones 5. Parling 6. Robshaw (c) 7. Warburton 8. Faletau 9. Youngs 10. Sexton 11. Halfpenny 12. Roberts 13. O’Driscoll 14. Cuthbert 15. Hogg

35 men is, quite simply, not enough. For Gatland’s sake I hope he takes 37, as there are tough decisions across the board. Scotland props Euan Murray and Ryan Grant are next in line on either side of the scrum, while in the second row Welsh rookie Andrew Coombs can count himself unlucky. The back-row is the most difficult area to choose from – Lydiate makes it because, if fit, his relationship with Gatland will almost definitely see him tour. Tom Wood is desperately unlucky, and Jamie Heaslip, despite not impressing recently, has experience from 2009 to call upon. Oh, and Stephen Ferris – remember him? – will also be waiting in the wings if returning to fitness, as will fellow 2009 tourist Tom Croft. The list (Beattie, Rennie, Morgan) goes on.

In the backs Greig Laidlaw pips Conor Murray to the third scrum-half spot due to his versatility – also, for my money Murray looks like a slightly poorer version of Phillips at the moment. James Hook’s versatility gets him the nod ahead of Dan Biggar, while he and Farrell can both cover centre so there is no place for Jonathan Davies, who hasn’t impressed recently. The centres do not inspire me much, and I was very close to including Kyle Eastmond – common sense says his chances of actually being picked are incredibly slim, however.

In the back three, there is room on the wing for Welsh giant duo North and Cuthbert as well as Irish box-of-tricks Zebo. My (half) bolter comes in the form of Sean Maitland, who sparked without quite setting alight in the Six Nations – given better service and, perhaps, some flakier defences, he could shine. He will be familiar with Aussie opposition from his time in Super Rugby, too. Full-backs Halfpenny and Hogg are nailed on – Rob Kearney is unlucky but has not been in great form, and is a good replacement to be able to call upon. Stuart Hogg was the most exciting player of the 6N for me, and deserves a starting spot – imagine what he could do with a bit more ball. Halfpenny, never to be left out, shifts to the wing in my starting XV.

Hutch:

35-man squad
Props (5) – Gethin Jenkins, Alex Corbisiero, Cian Healy, Adam Jones, Dan Cole
Hookers (3) – Rory Best, Richard Hibbard, Tom Youngs
Locks (4) – Alun Wyn Jones, Joe Launchbury, Ian Evans, Donnacha Ryan
Back row (8) – Dan Lydiate, Tom Wood, Sean O’Brien, Chris Robshaw, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau, Jamie Heaslip
Scrum-half (3) – Greig Laidlaw, Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs
Fly-half (2) – Jonathan Sexton, Owen Farrell
Centres (4) – Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Jamie Roberts, Manu Tuilagi, Jonathan Davies
Back three (6) – Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg, Rob Kearney, Alex Cuthbert, Tim Visser, George North

Test XV
1. Healy 2. Best 3. Jones 4. Launchbury 5. A-W Jones 6. Lydiate 7. Tipuric 8. Faletau 9. Phillips 10. Sexton 11. Visser 12. Roberts 13. BOD (c) 14: Cuthbert 15: Halfpenny

The initial frustration of trying to narrow down a selection to 35 players has given way to delight at the wealth of options available in most positions, and I’m hugely optimistic about a series win in Australia. I found the half-backs tricky to pick, and Dan Biggar is unlucky to miss out on the basis that Greig Laidlaw travels as a scrum-half that can cover fly-half if necessary. I can see Jonny Sexton and Owen Farrell battling for the Test jersey, and their contrasting styles makes it an interesting duel.

In the front row, I’ve picked Alex Corbisiero for similar reasons of versatility. Adam Jones and Dan Cole are the standout tightheads, with Mike Ross in contention but probably missing out – unless Gatland takes 37 players, in which case he’d be in. The back row is probably the hardest to select. Tipuric, Faletau and Robshaw are non-negotiables based on Six Nations form, as is Dan Lydiate if he stays fit – he’s been out of the public eye, but it shouldn’t take too much game time for him to remind us that he’s world class. Tom Wood and Sean O’Brien make my squad, along with Jamie Heaslip and Sam Warburton, with players like Ben Morgan, Stephen Ferris and Kelly Brown not too far behind.

There are a few contentious selections, and I’m lacking a real ‘bolter’ – Sean Maitland or Craig Gilroy could fit the bill, but I’m looking forward to seeing some candidates emerge as we return to domestic action.

So there you have it. Let fly below with your comments/suggestions/criticisms/feedback… we’ve donned our hardhats in anticipation.

91 thoughts on “Post-Six Nations Lions Squads

  1. I think this proves how hard it is to pick a squad!

    The temptation to include utility players over players in better form is huge. When limited to 35, I’d expect a back rower who has experience in the second row to make the squad. So step-up Ryan Jones, who played exceptionally until injury.

    For me he’d go before O’Brien or Lydiate

    1. It’s a good point, and I almost included Croft for that very reason. However, with 5 pretty mobile locks and plenty of versatility in the back-row, I’m not sure he adds enough to make my squad.

      1. I think that’s true, with the 5-7 balance you have between 2nd and Back row you don’t need that cross over.

        The other squads have 4-8 / 5-6, I think that without a crossover player it leaves the squad short in the 2nd row / back row respectively.

        But if you have 37.. this is a non-issue. Gatland should do himself a favour and take the extra 2

  2. No love for Robshaw in the Test XV?? Let the record show that I am a die-hard Irish rugby fan but if anyone’s earned his test jersey during the 6N it certainly has to be the English captain.

    Of all 3 squads, Charlie’s is the one I agree with the most. Were only a couple changes off from one another. My Text XV can be seen here: twitpic.com/ccrrtw

      1. With how battered some of the guys were both during and after 6N (e.g. Sexton, Ferrell and many others), there’s no telling who’s going to be available come June. Laidlaw, of all the Fly-Halves, had one of the best campaigns and made it out virtually injury-free. Sexton would be my #1 pick but his injury put some doubts in my head (plus I’m still a bit traumatized from his 2012 6N performance against Wales but that’s another story) and I still cringe every time he kicks the ball. Halfpenny will be in charge of penalties and conversions.

        1. I’m not arguing with Laidlaw as a tourist – he’s in my squad above. I’d question him at 10 though, seeing as he’s been playing scrum-half for Scotland.

  3. Is anyone else thinking that Steffon Armitage would be an interesting wild-card selection? Would love to see how he gets on in an international environment.

    1. Its a reasonable call. However, with the two Welsh 7’s on board (plus the adaptable likes of O’Brien, Wood, Brown and Robshaw), no recent International experience and a late finish to his domestic season, it is hard to see him nudging ahead of anyone else.

      1. Agree with Blub, don’t see him making the initial cut, but if he has some stand out performances in latter stages of HC and Top14 I think he will be on the standby list (along with Sheridan). I would have him behind Ryan Jones and Tom Wood in the pecking order for general back rowers, but if there is an injury to a specialist 7 then I think he becomes next cab off the rank.

      2. Armitage is one of these “true 7’s”. But he is not a viable line out option. Then you look at warburton and tipuric. Both also “true 7’s” who are pretty handy in the lineout.

        I would also question the fitness of armitage. I think that the backrow is sorted enough that he isn’t needed. Plus his time playing test rugby was very unconvincing. The lions have proven test players already there

        Gatland needs to take 37, especially if the squads will be 23 man ones.

    2. The Armitage one could be interesting. But also surprised that no-one has picked Jonny Wilkinson. And Hutch, to only take 2 FH’s I think you’d be asking for trouble.

      1. I thought that too Dazza, but then I looked at the 2009 squad (of 37, incidentally) and the fly half options were Jones, O’Gara and… Flutey. It does seem too specialist a position to gamble on though.

  4. The strength in depth is a very good thing, there were 13 changes to the squad between it being announced and returning home in 2009. The amount of quality we can bring in in almost every position makes me optimistic of a 3-0.

    I do think we’ll see a 37 man squad though, does anyone know if it will be 23 or 22 man match day squads? If it’s 23 then there’s a case for an extra prop, if it’s 22 then I think you need 1 loose head who can at least do a job at tight head if required off the bench. Here’s my 37, obviously a few needing to prove fitness.

    Props (6) – Gethin Jenkins, Alex Corbisiero, Cian Healy, Adam Jones, Dan Cole, Mike Ross
    Hookers (3) – Richard Hibbard, Rory Best, Tom Youngs
    Locks (5) – Alun-Wyn Jones (Capt), Geoff Parling, Ian Evans, Nathan Hines, Joe Launchbury
    Flankers (5) – Chris Robshaw, Sam Warburton, Sean O’Brien, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate
    Number 8 (2) – Toby Faletau, Ben Morgan
    Scrum-half (3) – Ben Youngs, Mike Phillips, Greig Laidlaw
    Fly-half (3) – Johnny Sexton, Owen Farrell, Dan Biggar
    Centres (4) – Jamie Roberts, Manu Tuilagi, Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Davies
    Back three (6) – George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg, Alex Cuthbert, Simon Zebo

    I’ve taken 2 specialist ball carrying 8s, Gatland seems to like some good go forward from the base so I just can’t see Heaslip offering what he likes.

    I’ve gone for AWJ as captain as I think he’s an inspirational figure, toured with the lions before and lets the back row boys battle for the starting shirts in the warm up games.

    Next cabs off the rank for me are:
    Ryan Grant, Dylan Hartley, Richie Gray, Ryan Jones, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care, James Hook, Brad Barritt & Tim Visser

    1. Like the balance of your squad Matt. We had to do 35 though – so which two would you take out if you had to? I genuinely think having two fewer players makes it so much more difficult.

      1. Actually, my maths was slightly off …. I only picked 36 (5 back 3 names not the 6 stated)

        But if I’m not allowed to cheat and have an extra name …. I would drop Dan Lydiate. Launchbury has played more first team games at 6 than second row so could do an emergency job there whilst a replacement is flying in.

  5. Its really tough, but here would be my XV:
    1. Healy 2. Best 3. A Jones 4. A-W Jones 5. Parling 6. Robshaw (c) 7. Warburton 8. Faletau 9. Youngs 10. Sexton 11. Halfpenny 12. Tuilagi 13. O’Driscoll 14. Cuthbert 15. Hogg

    What I am saying is a basically agree with Jamie – but I would have best over Hibbard just on personal prefernce, although I like both. And I would also have Tuilagi over Roberts. The reason I picked him is that putting myself in an Aussie position, who would I rather play against? The answer is not Tuilagi and that is why he plays. Also, with the space he would create for the likes of BOD and Hogg they would be laughing.

    1. I agonised over the Roberts/Tuilagi decision but in the end went for Roberts for two reasons: he has passed the ball recently (unlike Tuilagi), and this will be good for an undoubtedly exciting back three, and his partnership with BOD in 2009 was probably the biggest plus of the tour. Hopefully with no more bloody exams to do he can get back to his best!

      1. I agree re: 2009 plus. But correct me if I am wrong, but going into the England game I saw a stat saying that Tuilagi has passed the ball three times in the two previous games (which I agree is awful) – but then I saw that Roberts did not actually pass the ball once in the game before (against Scotland I think). Basically I don’t think passing the ball is a strength of either of these players – but Tuilagi should draw in more defenders when running at them and this can be used to create space elsewhere.

        1. As a counter I would say that Roberts’ passing was exemplary in the England game – he had a hand (quite literally) in one if not both of the tries. But either way it’s a great dilemma to have!

          1. True. I just think when comparing these two players, passing it not either of their strong points and therefore not something I would want to separate them on. They are both meant to be ball carries, getting the team on the front foot – and that is the reason I go Tuilagi.

            If I was going for Roberts my argument would be his defence, as I feel this is the area where he is much better than Tuilagi.

            Tuilagi worries me that he seems more interested in a massive hit that actually making sure he at least gets him – for me, that is his main negative.

  6. We are very light on inside centres in these squads, I know it is a weak position generally speaking but what happens if Roberts breaks down (not unheard of). I see some people are considering that Farrell or Hook can do a job there, maybe even move BOD or Manu to the inside position. I believe it is our weakest position and would stock up on options.

    I would only take 2 10’s, Laidlaw can do a job there to cover any holes, take Scott to offer more options at 12, he broke the line as much as any centre during the 6N (granted only about3 times) without much quality ball, he may spark during the tour, a risk worth taking. 12t’s was unlucky in this position as I believ that he could possibly spark at 12 as well, he has the advantage of also being able to cover 10 in crisis.

    Interesting how Dan Lydaite is in pretty much all the squads, great player, but he has a lot to prove in terms of fitness and he is not going to play any HC games. Kelly Brown had an excellent 6N and would offer extra leadership for the midweek team, he can play 6,7 and 8.

    my squad

    Props (6) – Gethin Jenkins, Cian Healy, Adam Jones, Dan Cole, Mike Ross, Rory Grant
    Hookers (3) – Richard Hibbard, Rory Best, Tom Youngs
    Locks (5) – Alun-Wyn Jones (Capt), Geoff Parling, Ian Evans, O’Ryan, Joe Launchbury
    Flankers (5) – Chris Robshaw, Sam Warburton, Sean O’Brien, Justin Tipuric, Brown
    Number 8 (2) – Toby Faletau, Beattie
    Scrum-half (3) – Ben Youngs, Mike Phillips, Greig Laidlaw
    Fly-half (2) – Johnny Sexton, Dan Biggar
    Centres (4) – Jamie Roberts, Scott, Manu Tuilagi, Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Davies
    Back three (6) – George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg, Alex Cuthbert, Sean Maitland

    1. If Lydiate proves his fitness then I really like what he brings to the back row balance. When he plays with a specialist 7 it is quite literally smash and grab. He creates more opportunities for turn overs than any other back row player because he does so much damage in the tackle and gets people down behind the gain line.

      Agree it’s a big if on his fitness and concur he’s not got the highest profile/quality games to prove it. I really struggled to pick between Brown or Jones as the next in line. I had to go with Jones as his performances in a team that was low on confidence were instrumental in turning Wales around.

      I am sad to see Tom Wood so far down the list now though, I honestly think Lancaster’s selection decisions have cost him a touring spot given there’s been so many stand out performers in the back row.

      1. Like I sadi, Fit, Lydaite is in every team, no questions asked but there is a big step from Pr012 and Lions, that’s my only quibble.

        But I think we agree on that.

    2. Don’t think we should do a PSA and have a 9 playing 10 though, do think we should have space for 3 10s (especially if we go with 37)

      1. I do agree that playing players out of position is a problem, but Laidlaw has played more international rugby at 10 than most players being spoken about and I only suggest it in crisis mode.

      2. what about Hook as the third 10. He has played a lot of rugby there this year and he is can play in other positions (including a good 12 which is a problem position).

  7. So from these selections it seems Tom youngs is pole position to impact from the bench? That seems pretty clear across the board. Also can’t help but think we need another barn storming carrying eight like Morgan. In case faletau is injured. If three genuine flyers were picked a centre pairing of Roberts and tuilagi could be pretty formidable. But as of yet it seems the welsh back three are odds on to start. I just don’t think they’re quick enough to allow the loss of pace in the centres from having two kitchen units in place there. If Hogg starts that makes things more interesting. The shoulders of the centres become very dangerous, enterprising places then. He’s got gas and step, a real genuine strike runner. That kid has the potential to take every attacking ball he gets right to the wallabies. Hopefully come away with points most times too

    1. I am really interested about playing Hogg not because I don’t like halfpenny, he is probably a better all round player than Hogg, but with Sexton doing the kicking, that means we are talking about straight fullbacks, on a hard surfice Hogg could be deadly on the counter and this team does lack strike runners.

      I will allow Hogg and Halfpenny to travel as equals and see who plays better on tour. They are both great player and the selection of either or really depends on other selections as well.

      My starting backline today would be:

      Phillips
      Sexton
      North
      Roberts
      Tuilagi
      Cuthbert
      HOgg

      However I expect that to change during the tour, a lot.

      1. 4 backs around 110kg or more. Try hiding Quade Cooper from that lot!

        Actually thought Wales would just over power the Aussies last summer, given it didn’t work I think we have to have one bosher and someone with a bit more guile in the centres.

        Hogg Vs Mogg would be a great match up of electric strike runners, but I would still have to start 1/2p. Too dependable to be dispensable, Hogg in the 23 shirt probably.

    2. The interesting things about the lions is that the midweek starters ten to be the 3rd choice in their position. 1st choice obviously starts the tests, with 2nd choice on the bench for the test. This means that 3rd choice starts midweek, and by process of who should be the freshest, you tend to have 2nd choice also subbing for the midweek games.

      My order at the moment would be. Hibbard test starter, best bench, youngs midweek starter.

      I do think that youngs is the most “impact” suited player of the 3, but I think that Hibbard and best are the two prime candidates for the test shirt, so couldn’t justify youngs subbing in the tests over best.

      Will be interesting to see how other people see it though

  8. Really can’t pick a starting 22/23 at the moment (well I tried and couldn’t decide). I see some parallels to 2011, where Ireland played 1 amazing game at the end of the 6N, but didn’t produce the same intensity and quality again, so I don’t think it will end up being as Welsh dominated as it would be if we were playing next weekend. I can’t see a single name in any of the squads above or mentioned in the comments who isn’t good enough to play for the lions. Everyone on the plane will have a decent shot at a test 22/23 place and we’ve got enough warm up games to look at combinations.

    1. Defintely, the team will select itself while on tour.

      There are always surprises in the eventual starting line up. Important to mention that modern Rugby is a 23 man sport as well.

  9. Not a single uncapped name in those teams. Freddie Burns is the only thing close (1 Cap).

    Wonder if it is a tradition that has died.

    I know that someone has mentioned Billy Vunipola as a backup.

    Who do people think could be genuine uncapped lions.
    My top 3 would be (in no order) B. Vunipola, Wade, Eli Walker

  10. Some interesting choices. I’m going for a few less conventional picks.

    Props (6) – Gethin Jenkins, Cain Healy, Mako Vunipola, Adam Jones, Dan Cole, Mike Ross
    Hookers (3) – Richard Hibbard, Rory Best, Tom Youngs
    Locks (5) – Alun-Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling, Andrew Coombs, Jim Hamilton,
    Joe Launchbury
    Back Row (6) – Chris Robshaw (Capt), Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Steffon Armitage, Toby Faletau, Ben Morgan
    Scrum half (3) – Ben Youngs, Mike Phillips, Greig Laidlaw
    Fly Half (3) – Jonny Wilkinson, Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton
    Centres (4)- Matt Scott, Manu Tuilagi, Jonathan Davies, Brian O’Driscoll
    Back Three (5) – George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Mike Brown, Christian Wade

    Starting 15:

    1. Healy, 2. Youngs, 3. Jones, 4. Parling, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 6. Robshaw (Capt), 7. Tipuric, 8. Morgan, 9. Youngs, 10. Wilkinson, 11. North, 12. Scott, 13. O’Driscoll, 14. Wade, 15. Halfpenny

    Wade is improving all the time, and I know Cuthbert is a proven finisher, but I think Wade in a team with that much go forward ability would be finding holes everywhere and slipping through them. There were a few options for my uncapped player, but Wade gets the nod, and in my opinion is ready to start.

  11. Can’t go with 3 centres particularly not with BOD almost certain to go. Can’t see him lasting a whole tour of big physical hits and hard grounds.

    The Wales game sort of knocked my player predictions out of kilter and am still trying to understand whether it was just a one off game where everything went right for the men in red, or whether they are the real deal. All the pundits have picked Jamie Roberts for example. He was absolute pants throughout most of the 6N, but his last game was a good one. Does that mean he should go? Glad I’m not Gatland. Too many Welsh and he will be accused of bias, but too few and he won’t be welcome back! Devil and the deep blue sea spring to mind.

    1. Really good point with regards to Roberts.

      No doubt he has been a great player, and nothing says he won’t be again. But like you said, he had a very poor tournament other than the final game.

      Agree that we have to take more than 3 centres as well. I think we will see 5 centres. Or at least a 3rd 10 who has spent a fair bit of time at centre to cover for the other 4.

  12. Roberts only played well in the final game, and looked very average for the rest of the tournament. BOD played well in the first game, but his time has passed. Lealiifano, AAC, F’Sautia and Tapuai are real danger men.

    1. Lealiifano, AAC, Tapuai, F’Sautia are all danger men.

      Not to mention Cooper, O’Connor, Barnes, Beale, Ioani, Mogg, Shipperly, Mitchell, Vuna, Cummins, Genia and Phibbs.

      Danger men all over the field. But the physicality of the lions backs may lead the wallabies to have to pick guys like McCabe, who aren’t as creative or dangerous as other options.

      It may be a very different wallabies backline than we are used to seeing.

      I am almost as intrigued by the possible wallabies team we will see the lions team!

  13. continuing the jamie Roberts debate….he was doing his medical exams for most of the 6N, finished before the england game…..he has been there and done it…..form is temporary but class is permanent. I must say I am worried about picking BOD, a great player he was, but could be a tour to many and it would be a shame to leave rugby with a bad tour in the memory, he deserves better than that….took some heavy knocks in 6N and it showed…I agree with AWJ as captain, leave warberton concentrate on his game, to much competition in the back row to guarantee Robshaw a test place….but mid week captain and bench certainly…Im Welsh but that has nothing to do with my comments, just want to stiuff the aussies and there are enough good players to win these tests. I still worry whether Farrell is ready, cool, good kicker, but still raw and needs more time…in fact no 10 is the only position that concerns me…..enjoy the discussion

    1. Howard, “form is temporary, but class is permanent”. A slogan that I am big fan of.

      Having said this, how can you justify it for Roberts, and then go on to say BOD shouldn’t tour because he is not on his best form?

      You made pretty valid points, so I can safely assume that you are intelligent and understand the definition of permanent, therefore you must see that you are slightly contradictions yourself here?

    2. Regarding a return to form for Roberts, only time will tell. As a single bad game doesn’t mean a loss of form, a single good one surely can’t mean a return to form?

      I understand your points regarding BOD. However the one positive of this tour being to Aus is that they actually have the least physical backs out of the teams the lions play, therefore I would say that the huge centres BOD has just played in the 6Ns would be very different to who we may expect in Aus. So from a physical standpoint lets just, for arguments sake, assume that the Aussies pick their best players, and don’t go to try and counter the lions with bulk. We would expect maybe Barnes at 12 and AAC at 13. Neither are the most physical players. So the biggest threat to BOD would be being exposed for pace. A solution that could maybe be solved by shifting him to 12. After all, we have seen all of Tuilagi, Roberts and JD play 13. Surely that could be a shift to allow his creativity and speed of mind, but also protect him from being targeted too much.

      The problem with not taking BOD is that we are left requiring another centre. And other than 12Ts I really do not think that there is a creative centre playing for the home nations (there are some at club level, but none seem to be picked for the 6Ns).

      What would your centre partnership be? And if you took a creative centre, then who would you go with?

    3. So on that note tuilagi should start every lions test as the only NH centre to have dismantled an all black back line?

      1. Tuilagi should be a test starter because of his sheer physicality.

        He will always draw 2 wallaby tacklers, creating space for people around him. The problem that England have, and the lions need to make sure they don’t fall into this trap too, is that they are not playing anyone who uses the space created.

        A ball player in the centres will be able to hit the holes, created by tuilagi drawing in defenders. That player will either be through in space, or draw wingers in, therefore a simple pass will put the lions wingers into space.

        No doubt, an on form Roberts will be able to cause the same sort of problems. But at this point in time Roberts has had only one good game recently, so he needs to prove form.

  14. Simo….with reference to my argument about roberts and BOD…..firstly it seems that Roberts is coming into form at the right time and BOD had a great game against Wales but has not been so effective since.
    let me be clear I am a great fan of BOD over the years I have watched him play, but age and the hard knocks catch up with all of us, which I felt showed in his last few games…If he went I would not want to see him knock about the mid week team after what he has contributed to world rugby…but hard grounds and a fast game could see him exposed a little for pace…..perhaps a late sub in a tight situation where his experience would be an asset maybe his role..

    The centre berths may depend on who is picked at no 10 which as I said still worries my a little…..just a view

    1. Howard, I replied using my phone, so hit the wrong one. Please see my above comment in response to this post.

  15. I don’t know whether this is my English fan pessimism coming to the fore but any thoughts of a series whitewash should be immediately banished. The Brumbies and Reds have been a lot better in the Super XV than i thought they’d be and this whole season is geared towards the Lions so they will be very well prepared, right in the peak months of their season where fitness and strength are concerned.
    It will be very interesting to see how different the Wallabies look to the autumn tour. If Deans has guts he’ll pick plenty of Brumbies + Reds and bin the ineffective Waratahs. The good news is that the Force and the Rebels are a joke so there isn’t great strength in depth.

    1. Spike, not sure if I would agree that there isn’t much depth in Aus. Sure some of the franchises are under performing, but they do still possess some pretty talented individuals. Take the waratahs for example, a team who you have rightly pointed out are under performing. They have players like benn Robinson, polotau-nau, kepu, timani, Douglas, Dennis, hooper, palu. All recent wallabies, and that’s just the starting pack. Then they have the other timani, paddy Ryan

      Across the backs they have guys like Barnes, AAC, Mitchell, Betham, Folau, Turner, Horne McKibben and Volavola.

      Even the force have guys like Cummins, McCalman, Brown, Hodgson and McMeniman.

      The rebels have Beale, O’Connor, Vuna, Phipps, kingi, higginbotham, Jones, Pyle and Henderson.

      The brumbies have, mogg, speight, lealiifano, George smith, mowen, kimlin, Moore, Alexander, nic white, rathbone and not to mention an injured pocock.

      Then throw in the players from the reds. Genia, cooper, ioani, feauai-sautia, shipperly, a. Faingaa, tapuai, frisby, schatz, gill, quirk, horwill, Simmons, slipper, s. faingaa, Ben Lucas and mike Harris.

      All of these guys have been, or could quite easily be wallabies based on the standard that they regularly play in the super 15.

      I have listed 61 names (59 if you exclude the injured pocock and Ben Lucas). Seeing as the lions will only be taking a touring party of 37(ish) players I would say that deans is in a pretty pleasant situation having roughly 60 players to choose from on his doorstep.

      The wallabies have always been a dangerous prospect, even when their franchises are under performing, because they combine very well at test level. Also unlike most of the teams in the northern hemisphere, they do not request clubs play players in certain positions for experience. Therefore it is highly likely to see a wallaby backline with Cooper, Barnes, O’Connor and Beale in it. 4 players who all regularly play a creative 10 role. All of whom have turned out for the wallabies at 10 and other positions.

      I would stick more to your English pessimism than stating that there is no depth and that some of the franchises are a joke.

  16. …and i’ve got no idea who’ll tour with the Lions. The 6N has made the selection much more cloudy. I’m pretty excited though.

    1. Red are out of sorts. Been playing awfully these last two weeks. However that could be down to cooper being out of form and genia just returning from injury at the weekend. Jake white has also been doing some wonderful things with the brumbies. Good young players that could knock some of the wallaby incumbents out of their comfort zones. The biggest problems with picking players such as BOD, Jenkins, O’Connell, Jones, how long are they going to last? We’ve seen a fit and firing, hungry BOD get his tour ended by a bad tackle. Can’t stress how big a blow it will be not to have Tommy Bowe fit at the moment. Hands down, and this is coming from an Englishman, he is the best and deadliest winger in the NH. He’s a genuine flyer, has footwork, hits smart lines and most importantly, he’s a born and bred finisher.

  17. Props (6): Cian Healy, Dan Cole, Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Ryan Grant, Mako Vunipola

    Hooker(3): Richard Hibbard, Tom Youngs, Rory Best

    Locks (4): Jim Hamilton, Geoff Parling, Alun Wyn Jones, Joe Luanchbury

    Back Row (6): no.8: Johnnie Beattie, Toby Faletau BS: Chris Robshaw, Kelly Brown OS: Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton

    Scrum Half (3): Mike Phillips, Conor Murray, Ben Youngs

    Fly Half (3): Jonny Sexton, Owen Farrll, Dan Biggar

    Centre (4): IC: Matt Scott, Jamie Roberts OC: Manu Tuilagi, Brian O’Driscoll

    Wing (4): George North, Alex Cuthbert, Sean Maitland, Tim Visser

    Full Back (2): Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg

    Starting XV:
    1 Gethin Jenkins
    2 Richard Hibbard
    3 Adam Jones
    4 Jim Hamilton
    5 Geoff Parling
    6 Chris Robshaw
    7 Justin Tipuric
    8 Toby Faletau
    9 Conor Murray
    10 Jonny Sexton
    11 George North
    12 Jamie Roberts
    13 Manu Tuilagi
    14 Alex Cuthbert
    15 Stuart Hogg

    Captain: Such a tough call but going to throw a curve ball and say Gethin Jenkins!

    Wales: 13
    Ireland: 5
    Scotland: 8
    England: 9

    That wasnt as hard as i thought it was going to be…

  18. 15.halfpenny 14 cuthbert 13 O driscoll 12 Roberts 11.north /zebo 10.Sexton 9. Youngs 8 fatual 7. Wauberton/tiperic 6.O Brien 5 O Connell 4. Parling 3.Jones 2. Hibbard /Best 1.healy

  19. Props: E.Murray S, G.Jenkins, D.Cole, A.Jones XV, C.Healy XV

    Hookers: R.Hibbard XV, R.Best S, R.Ford

    Locks: I.Evans XV, A.W.Jones XV, G.Parling, D.O’Callaghan, N.Hines S

    Flankers: C.Robshaw, S.Warburton, J.Tipuric XV, R.Jones S, C.Denton, S.O’Brien XV

    Number.8s: T.Faletau XV, J.Heaslip, J.Beattie

    Scrum-Halfs: G.Laidlaw S, B.Youngs, M.Phillips XV

    Fly-Halfs: J.Hook S, T.Flood, O.Farrell, J.Sexton XV

    Centres: J.Davies, B.O’Driscoll XV, M.Tuilagi, J.Roberts XV

    Wingers: G.North XV, A.Cuthbert XV, T.Visser, M.Brown, T.Bowe S, S.Zebo

    Fullbacks: R.Kearney S, L.Halfpenny XV, S.Hogg

    XV – Starting 15
    S – Substitute

    1. 42 names there, you will have to cut a couple for th final 37.

      Also I am interested to know what made you go for O’Callaghan and Denton.

      Both players were not even first choice their teams in the 6Ns, and even went on to lose their spots on the bench.

      O’Callaghan was benched behind McCarthy and Ryan. Only getting a start when McCarthy was injured. O’Callaghan then went on to lose his place to Toner, on th bench, when McCarthy returned.

      Denton was 3rd choice behind Brown, Beattie and Strokosch. When Strokosch got injured Harley leap frogged Denton. And by the end Ryan Wilson has the bench spot.

      Not to mention that both nations have returning players in these positions. O’connell for Ireland. And Barclay and Rennie for Scotland. All 3 possible lions contenders if they get to their best form. And injured players who can prove themselves in time from other nations, Lydiate, B. Davies, Charteris, Ferris (unlikely to get fit in time)

      Not to mention the players from other nations that you have left out who are fit and playing.

      For 2nd row you could go for Launchbury, Hamilton, Gray, Ryan, McCarthy and Coombs, who all had more effective tournaments than O’Callaghan.

      In the backrow you could easily make cases for the inclusions of Wood, Haskell, Croft, O’Mahony, Strokosch, Harley, Henderson and Morgan all over Denton.

      Also I would be wary choosing French based players (I understand the reasoning behind Hines and Hook) because Gatland seems unsure of their availability, and so has hinted that they may be less likely to tour.

  20. @Sino

    Didn’t know that their was a squad limit,

    The O’Callaghan was a risk, and I originally chose Ryan. But too me, that’s the problem with the Lions. It has to be the best of the last 4 years. O’Callaghan has been up there.

    As for Denton, I forgot too take him out. I wanted somebody for multiple positions and thought about Ryan Jones (a dark horse, always turns up)
    and he’s a cracking player and I would rather Steffon Armitage to Denton because what I’ve seen of him has impressed me.

    I chose Hook because as a utility back and skillwise is up with the best. Nathan Hines because he was the best Scottish second row and had a great tournament. If I could cull the squad, I’d probrably get rid of O’Callaghan now, Denton, Farrell (I like Flood too much!), Heaslip, Youngs(not sure on this one).

    1. O callahagn is lauded as one of teh greatest tourists ever, not just for his performances but also for his attitude and that is why Mcgeechan choose him as captain for the last mid-week game of the tour 2009. He is everything that a Lion should be but he is well down the pecking order this time. He is probably nw 4th/5th lock in Ireland (o connell, ryan, mcCarthy, touhy and hnderson).

  21. @simo

    Captain has to be Ryan Jones. Born leader, thrives on the big stage and always improves his game to suit the occasion. Also, wants revenge down under!

    But that doesn’t mean he’ll play everygame. There is such a quality depth in this squad, I’d don’t think anyone would walk into the XV.

    And no, I do not think the squad needs too be filled with Harlequins or Saracens like Woodward, now the Six Nations is so competitive, we need to have a very balanced squad. Sorry for being very biased on the Welsh, I’ll probrably change it again in the future! Their are so many different ways!

  22. The major issue for me is for this Lions tour Gatland has the issue of Wales won the 6 Nations and so you expect to see more Welsh in the squad, but I don’t think any Welsh players are in the Test squad by much more than the skin of their teeth with all 3 other home nations having a good tournament as well.

    I personally would like to see Launchbury with Jones in the second row, I think Launchbury brings the lack of fear of youth and gives that almost 3rd flanker style of play which could be key in slowing the Australians down on home soil.

    One other selection I’d disagree with is a distinct lack of proven kicker in any of the squads.

    Only one out of the 8 has any real experience and that’s James Hook, I hope to see him or Flood on the plane as a back up, if the younger 10’s show some doubt or their relative inexperience leaves them open to Quade Cooper’s assualts then I’d want someone really experienced who has been there, done that and bought the t-shirt to replace them and just steady the ship.

    1. Whatb is Halfpenny if he is not a proven goalkicker?….” all other 3 other nations had a good 6 nations as well”…apart from the 1st half against Wales Ireland were poor…a number of the welsh squad are not in by the skin of their teeth , Adam Jones, AWJ, warberton, north, cuthbert and halfpenny I would think are certs…plus perhaps Phillips, Hibbert, jonathan Davies close…Im welsh but not biased when it comes to the lions, but who else would you pick? they keep mentioning Bowe, Lydiate, OConnell, great players but to little rugby to risk on a hard tour..must pick from 6N squads

      1. The problem is with taking too many Welsh players, is that, as Cramps points out on another thread, the Welsh team hold no fears for the Aussies

        Essentially the same team were white-washed in Aus last summer having just won the Grand Slam and haven’t beaten one of the top 3 since 2008

        It is just as dangerous to base the Lions selection on one great performance by Wales as it would be to base it on England’s one great performance against NZ

        So with that in mind (and leaving out players like Corbisiero and Lydiate as they need to prove form and fitness), my squad and test team would be

        35-man squad
        Props (5) – Gethin Jenkins, Mako Vunipola, Cian Healy, Adam Jones, Dan Cole

        Hookers (3) – Rory Best, Richard Hibbard, Tom Youngs

        Locks (4) – Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury, Ian Evans, Jim Hamilton

        Back row (8) – Tom Wood, Sean O’Brien, Chris Robshaw, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau, Ben Morgan, Kelly Brown

        Scrum-half (3) – Greig Laidlaw, Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs

        Fly-half (2) – Jonathan Sexton, Owen Farrell

        Centres (5) – Brian O’Driscoll, Billy 12Trees, Manu Tuilagi, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts

        Back three (5) – Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg, Mike Brown, Alex Cuthbert, George North

        Test XV
        1. Healy 2. Hibbard 3. Jones 4. Launchbury 5. I Evans
        6. Robshaw 7. Warburton 8. Morgan 9. Youngs 10. Sexton 11.North 12. BOD 13. Tuilagi 14: Cuthbert 15: Halfpenny

        Still a preponderance of Welshmen but they deserve to be there.

        Centres were an issue and I can see Gatland taking someone like 12Trees as there is little creativity. I didn’t want to pick Roberts as his form is generally poor, but there aren’t many other options

        If there is going to be an uncapped player, then I’d look towards Wade or Eastmond

        1. many points of agreement but Alan Wyn Jones is a glaring omission…the best 2nd row in 6N and possible captain…

          1. I’ve never been sold on AWJ, even though he had a good game against england, although not as good in my eyes as Evans

            But for me, he has a way of fading out of the game and not stepping up when he really needs to. I am talking across the last few years here, not just the last couple of games.

        2. FINALLY! At least you have the sense to pick Halfpenny at FULLBACK! Lots of people pick him at wing. BIG MISTAKE! He has been the best player in Britain while playing at FULLBACK. To put him on the wing is absurd. Hogg or Kearney don’t get near him in that position. Why waste a winger by playing two fullbacks?

          (Wheres Alun Wyn or Ryan Jones, always steps up to the occasion and 3 times better than Tom Wood)

    2. Halfpenny, Farrell and Sexton are all proven goal kickers at test level. And Laidlaw to a degree.

  23. your kidding right??
    Farrell in and Biggar out???

    Farrell is a kid amongst men he fell apart in the arse kicking of england at cardiff.

    Dane cole?? Another amateur,
    Its no good saying cole is great in the loose, if so pick him at 6,7 or 8
    A prop is a prop to give a good platform at the scrum

    1. Farrell by no means “fell apart in the arse kicking of england at cardiff”. And you’re pinpointing one game. What about his outstanding performance against New Zealand. Remember them…….the World Champions. He’s adapted his game management depending on conditions and who England have played. The difference in Cardiff was in the forwards, giving Farrell less time on the ball.
      I would definitely rather have Farrell than Biggar, and not just because I’m English, but because at the moment I believe he is the better choice.

  24. Cracking squads, I did they same on fifteenrugby.com but fortunately went with a 37 man squad, 35 is just too small now, particularly with two props on the bench. Felt that finding an adequate number of fly halves/centres was a particular problem, while choosing who not to pick in the back row was the real challenge.

    Here is my squad for anyone that’s interested: http://www.fifteenrugby.com/fifteen-uncut/blog/to-win-for-the-lions-in-a-test-match-is-the-ultimate-my-lions-selection/

  25. @Pablito

    Where’s Alun Wyn Jones? Ford ahead of Youngs, Murray ahead of Vunipola, Visser and Kearney should be there Beattie ahead of Brown and R.Jones ahead of Wood. Damacha Ryan also deserves place.

    1. See above for my thoughts on AWJ

      Don’t think Ford is as good as he was a couple of years ago. Youngs offers a good mid-week option

      Don’t think Murray had a great 6 Nations and if we needed to add an extra prop, I’d take Ross. Vunipola is an explosive player off the bench (watch some of his play v Quins this weekend to see what he can do) and his scrummaging, whilst needing work, is good enough. He adds an entirely different dimension to props like Murray

      Visser I’m really not convinced by yet. Fast in a straight line but weak defensively. Kearney had a poor 6 Nations and isn’t the player he used to be. Mike Brown is chosen as a full-back, rather than a wing, although he can obviously cover there and offers all the defensive play Kearney does but with the attacking option that Kearney seems to have lost.

      Beattie had ups and downs, but Brown was consistently good. R Jones I didn’t consider due to his injury but he’s another one who has ups and downs – some ups in this year’s 6 nations, a lot of downs during the autumn internationals

      Ryan is good but I prefer the locks I’ve chosen

        1. Well he was up against some bloke called James Johnston, you may remember him from the autumn decimating the Welsh scrum.

          Think Jones really outsmarted Vunipola, i.e. didn’t take the hit at the first scrum and pulled him down, which causes opponent to be more passive at hit in the next scrums. Vunipola does have the raw power/strength in abundance though.

          If Corbs is fit I would take him as the 3rd looshead but I think it’s pretty close between Vunipola and Grant behind that.

          1. As I pointed out, Vunipola’s scrummaging needs work, tho as you point out Matt he did well against Johnston

            However, his play in the loose adds another dimension that props like Murray, Ross and even Corbisiero just don’t have.

  26. Easily one of the hardest things I’ve had to decide on in awhile. Let the record show that I am a die-hard Ireland fan but even I was surprised at who I picked when I reviewed my list. I’d love to hear what everyone thinks. Oh and just FYI: I’m an American :) and yes, this “yank” knows his rugby!

    My 35-Man Squad

    Looseheads
    1. Cían Healy — Genthin Jenkins

    Hookers
    2. Rory Best — Richard Hibbard

    Tightheads
    3. Adam Jones — Dan Cole

    Second Row
    4. Geoff Parling — Ian Evans
    5. Jim Hamilton — Alun Wyn Jones

    Blindside Flankers
    6. Chris Robshaw — Tom Wood

    Openside Flankers
    7. Justin Tipuric — Sam Warburton — Sean O’Brien

    No. 8s
    8. Jamie Heaslip — Toby Faletau

    Scrum-Half
    9. Mike Phillips — Conor Murray — Greg Laidlaw

    Fly-Half
    10. Jonathan Sexton — Owen Farrell — Dan Biggar

    Left Wing
    11. Tim Visser — George North

    Inside Centre
    12. Jamie Roberts — Matthew Scott

    Outside Centre
    13. Brian O’Driscoll — Manu Tuilagi — Jonathan Davies

    Right Wing
    14. Alex Cuthbert — Sean Maitland

    Fullbacks
    15. Leigh Halfpenny — Stuart Hogg — Rob Kearney

    TEST XV: Who I Would Like To See
    Front Row: 1. Cian Healy — 2. Rory Best — 3. Adam Jones
    Second Row: 4. Geoff Parling — 5. Jim Hamilton
    Back Row: 6. Chris Robshaw — 8. Jamie Heaslip — 7. Justin Tipuric
    Scrum-Half: 9. Conor Murray
    Fly-Half: 10. Jonathan Sexton
    Left Wing: 11. Tim Visser
    Inside Centre: 12. Matthew Scott
    Outside Centre: 13. Brian O’Driscoll (c)
    Left Wing: 14. Sean Maitland
    Fullback: 15. Leigh Halfpenny (k)

    TEST XV: Who I Assume Gatland Will Ultimately Pick
    Front Row: 1. Gethin Jenkins — 2. Rory Best — 3. Adam Jones
    Second Row: 4. Geoff Parling — 5. Alun Wyn Jones
    Back Row: 6. Chris Robshaw (c) — 8. Toby Faletau — 7. Sam Warburton
    Scrum-Half: 9. Mike Phillips
    Fly-Half: 10. Jonathan Sexton (k)
    Left Wing: 11. George North
    Inside Centre: 12. Jamie Roberts
    Outside Centre: 13. Brian O’Driscoll
    Left Wing: 14. Alex Cuthbert
    Fullback: 15. Leigh Halfpenny

    Honorable Mentions

    DISCLAIMER: I know some of these are just coming off injury and are in the hunt but I just don’t know if they’ll be fit or even able to play come June. That’s why I’ve listed there here.

    1. Ryan Grant (Scotland) — Mako Vunipola (England)
    2. Tom Youngs (England)
    3. Mike Ross (Ireland) — Ross Ford (Scotland)
    4. Richie Gray (Scotland)
    5. Donnacha Ryan (Ireland) — Paul O’Connell (Ireland)
    6. Dan Lydiate (Wales)
    7. Kelly Brown (Scotland)
    8. Johnnie Beattie (Scotland)
    9. Ben Youngs (England)
    10. Ruaridh Jackson (Scotland)
    11. Simon Zebo (Ireland)
    12. Brad Barritt (England) — Luke Marshall (Ireland)
    13. Keith Earls (Ireland)
    14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland) — Chris Ashton (England) — Craig Gilroy (Ireland)
    15. Mike Brown (England)

    1. just lol at the thought of ashton getting a mention
      were you watching differnt internationals than anyone else?

    1. thank god! his past with the lions should mean that he has NO involvement at all, but if he had to have any then the Baa-Baas game is the one that i would want him doing.

      having said that, the Baa-Baas are looking pretty tasty so far.
      Parisse, Harinordoquay, Fotuali’i, Jaques Fourie, Ghiraldini, Tindall and Nick Evans have all been confirmed so far.

      the thing i like the most about reintroducing the Baa-Baas vs Lions fixture is that it gives some truly world class players a chance to have a taste of lions rugby. Guys like Parisse, Harinordoquay and Fotoali’i, who without this would never get the chance to have any form of involvement.

      Also nice to see guys like Fourie and Evans getting involved. It gives the impression that, for the southern hemisphere players, the lions are such a rare occurrence that you want to take any chance possible.

      I wouldnt be surprised if we saw (schedules permitting) guys like Habana and Rockocoko turning out too. (played for the Baa-Baas before)

      A couple other names i would love to see (again depending on availability) Fernandez-Lobbe, Hayman, Bakkies, Nonu, Giteau, Fofana, Rougerie, Masi, Hernandez, Contepomi. most of these are french based though, and a fair few toulon players, so the top 14 final will mean they arent free.

      we will probably see some lions hopefuls who missed out on the tour get asked too.

  27. Test XV:
    1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
    2. Rory Best (Ireland)
    3. Adam Jones (Wales)
    4. Geoff Parling (England)
    5. Jim Hamilton (Scotland)
    6. Chris Robshaw (England) – Captain
    7. Sam Warburton (Wales)
    8. Toby Faletau (Wales)
    9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
    10. Jonny Sexton (Ireland)
    11. George North (Wales)
    12. Jamie Roberts (Wales)
    13. Manu Tuilagi (England)
    14: Alex Cuthbert (Wales)
    15: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)

    Bench:
    16: Tom Youngs (England)
    17: Dan Cole (England)
    18: Ritchie Gray (Scotland)
    19: Justin Tipuric (Wales)
    20: Mike Phillips (Wales)
    21: Owen Farrell (England)
    22: Mike Brown (England)

  28. Test XV:
    1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
    2. Rory Best (Ireland)
    3. Adam Jones (Wales)
    4. Geoff Parling (England)
    5. Jim Hamilton (Scotland)
    6. Chris Robshaw (England) – Captain
    7. Sam Warburton (Wales)
    8. Toby Faletau (Wales)
    9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
    10. Jonny Sexton (Ireland)
    11. George North (Wales)
    12. Jamie Roberts (Wales)
    13. Manu Tuilagi (England)
    14: Alex Cuthbert (Wales)
    15: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)

    Bench:
    16: Tom Youngs (England)
    17: Dan Cole (England)
    18: Cian Healy (Ireland)
    19: Justin Tipuric (Wales)
    20: Mike Phillips (Wales)
    21: Owen Farrell (England)
    22: Ritchie Gray (Scotland)
    23: Mike Brown (England)

    Mid Week XV:
    1. Cian Healy (Ireland)
    2. Richard Hibberd (Wales)
    3. Dan Cole (England)
    4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
    5. Ritchie Gray (Scotland)
    6. Ryan Jones (Wales)
    7. Justin Tipuric (Wales)
    8. Ben Morgan (England)
    9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
    10. Owen Farrell (England)
    11. Tommy Bowe (Ireland)
    12. Brad Barrit (England)
    13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – Captain
    14: Sean Maitland (Scotland)
    15: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

    Bench:
    16: Tom Youngs (England)
    17: Euan Murray (Scotland)
    18: Paul James (Wales)
    19: Kelly Brown (Scotland)
    20: Ben Youngs (England)
    21: Toby Flood (England)
    22: Jonathan Davies (Wales)
    23: Mike Brown (England)

    Would also take
    Dylan Hartley (England)
    Rob Kearney (Ireland)
    Chris Ashton (England)
    Ian Evans (Wales)
    Tom Wood (England)

  29. 1.jenkins
    2.best
    3.jones
    4.O’callaghan
    5.grey
    6.tipuric
    7.robshaw
    8.faletau
    9.phillips
    10.sexton
    11.north
    12.O’driscoll
    13.roberts
    14.Zebo
    15.Halfpenny
    from; HSBC WORLD STUDIOS

  30. 15. Leigh Halfpenny/ Stuart Hogg
    14. Craig Gilroy/Simon Zebo/Alex Cuthbert/Sean Maitland
    13. Manu Tuilagi/Brian O’ Driscoll
    12. Jamie Roberts
    11. George North/Tim Visser
    10. Owen Farrell/ Johnny Sexton
    9. Mike Phillips/ Ben Youngs
    8. Toby Faletau/Ryan Jones
    7.Chris Robshaw/Sam Warburton (C)/Sean O’Brien
    6. Justin Tipuric/Kelly Brown
    5. Alun Wyn-Jones
    4. Joe Launchbury
    3. Adam Jones/Dan Cole
    2. Rory Best
    1. Gethin Jenkins/Cian Healy

  31. The back row is a ridiculously hard choice. There is an abundance of good players there, from all nations. Robshaw, Wood, Croft, Morgan, Tipuric, Lydiate, Warburton, Faletau, O’Brien, Ferris, Heaslip, Brown, Harley and Beattie.

  32. 15. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues)
    14. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
    13. Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster)
    12. Jonathan Davis (Scarlets
    11. George North (Northampton Saints)
    10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
    9. Ben Youngs ( Leicester Tigers)
    1. Cian Healey (Leinster)
    2. Rory Best (Ulster)
    3. Adam Jones (Ospreys)
    4. Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
    5. Paul O’Connell (Munster)
    6. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
    7. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
    8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)

  33. 1. Ryan Grant
    2. Ricard Hibbard
    3. Dan Cole
    4. AWJ
    5. Paul O’Connell
    6. Sam Warburton
    7. Justin Tipuric
    8. Johnnie Beattie
    9. Mike Phillips
    10. Jonathon Sexton
    11. George North
    12. James Roberts
    13. BOD
    14. Sean Maitland
    15. Leigh Halfpenny

    16. Rory Best
    17. Dan Cole
    18. Cian Healy
    19. Jim Hamilton
    20. Dan Lydiate
    21. Danny Care
    22. Jonny Wilkinson
    23. Simon Zebo

    A controversial 23 there. Expecting debate regarding the 3 Scots;Maitland, Beattie and Grant. Happy to explain their inclusion.

  34. 1 Cian Healy
    2-Richard Hibard
    3-adam Jones
    4-Alun Wyn Jones
    5-Geoff Parling
    6- Dan lydiate
    7-Sam Warburton
    8-faletau
    9-mike phillips
    10-owen farrell
    11-george north
    12-jamie roberts
    13-brian o’driscoll
    14-tim visser
    15-leigh halfpenny

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