Potential Lions XV: September 2012

Lions RugbyHot on the heels of the Head Coach announcement this morning, we’ve picked a potential British and Irish Lions Test team.

We’ll be doing this once a month from now until the tour. In fact, we’ll be pondering selection a couple of times each week, but we’ll publish a possible side each month and we can see how it changes over the season.

To kick things off, what do you make of this line up?

1. Gethin Jenkins
2. Rory Best
3. Adam Jones
4. Richie Gray
5. Courtney Lawes
6. Dan Lydiate
7. Sam Warburton (c)
8. David Denton

9. Mike Phillips
10. Jonny Sexton
11. George North
12. Jamie Roberts
13. Brian O’Driscoll
14. Tim Visser
15. Rob Kearney

Share your thoughts and post your team below.

146 thoughts on “Potential Lions XV: September 2012

  1. Kearney Bowe O’Driscoll/Hogg Roberts North Sexton Philips Healy Strauss Jones Gray Wynn Jones Ferris Warburton Denton

  2. Who would run the lineout? Neither Gray and Lawes are specialists. I think you either need to change a second row or put Croft in at 6. His skill set is suited to an away series in Australia as well.

    1. Croft could be a good shout, but Lydiate and Ferris are ahead of him at 6 for me. Lawes a bit of a left-field pick to be honest, so could swap for AWJ.

    2. @Tom – Gray may not be a specialist but you can’t fail to win a lot of lineout ball when you’re 6’10.

    1. It might look a bit like that with the Welsh management team…

      No Warburton is a big shout though, and Charteris would be ahead of AWJ for me if we’re just picking the Wales team.

  3. Very good side – just Hartley for Best and Cuthbert/Ashton for Visser and that’s the XV to win the series, for me. With Cole, Rees, AW Jones, O’Brien, Youngs, Flood and Halfpenny on the bench.

  4. Wales fans will pick a primarily Welsh Lions team, of course, conveniently forgetting that they just played the same opponent and lost 3-0.

    1. Dan Cole
    2. Rory Best
    3. Adam Jones
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Courtney Lawes
    6. Dan Lydiate
    7. Sam Warburton (c)
    8. Jamie Heaslip
    9. Danny Care
    10. Jonny Sexton
    11. Chris Ashton
    12. Jamie Roberts
    13. Manu Tuilagi
    14. George North
    15. Leigh Halfpenny

    1. Indeed, lost 3 tests by a total of 11 points which suggests this very young team certainly have what it takes.
      Anyone who has watched Gatland over the years will know he tends to pick players on form and who he thinks will win games, not because he knows them or feels he should pick them.
      The truth is that a majority of the test team will be Welsh and Irish, simply because the better English players happen to be in positions where there is quality already available, or in positions which will not get the maximum out of the team and by that I’m thinking Tuilagi – why have the combined attacking threats of North/Ashton/Visser/Bowe/Kearney/Halfpenny/Cuthbert if the ball never leaves his hands (seriously, as good as he is, has anyone ever seen him pass?). Much the same goes for Croft, with O’Brien and Lydiate the stand out players and players like Ryan Jones offering 6/8 cover, I’d be surprised if he even makes the tour and I’m a huge fan of his.

    2. Wales fans will pick a team predominantly made of Irish and Welsh players because they are the best players in Britain and Ireland. None of us are forgetting the summer whitewash, who are you to tell us what we are thinking?
       
      However, it is virtually impossible to argument with the inevitable blinkered statements like yours that will arise when Eng have a very small set in the real squad, because you will just claim anti-English bias. The idea of Danny Care even being thought of as the best number 9 in Britain and Ireland is either hilarious or downright scary, I cannot decide which.

  5. Broadly happy with this. But what’s this? Only one Englishman – is this troll-bait? :) Perhaps not, because I struggle to think of English players to usurp the ones above in each position.

    Well, I’d like to see Corbisiero in the side, but is he better than Gethin Jenkins?

    Not 100% convinced by Warburton – hopefully he can regain his old form but he’s not been Lions captain material for a little while now. I think Chris Robshaw has proved himself a very capable leader both for Quins and England. Not sure if he’s better than Warburton at 7 or Lydiate at 6, but he gets through a lot of unseen work and commands a healthy level of respect.

    Does Brian O’Driscoll have another Lions Tour in him? I’d like to think so as he is awesome, but I’m not entirely convinced he does.

    Can’t argue with North and Visser on the wings. Hope to see Christian Wade get a few runs out with England in the next few months, as he offers something a bit different and I think he could force himself into Lions reckoning.

    1. Whenever I see Robshaw mentioned its always as a great leader, hardly ever as the best number 7. Take the best players then pick a captain out of them. Robshaw will not make the team because he is not a good enough player, regardless of how good he is as this ephemeral and unquantifiable “great leader” thing.

  6. Not sure about Tim Visser on the right wing, North can play both? Tim is a fantastic winger no doubt about that! Although I’d stick with Bowe and North and Visser hasn’t proven it on the big occasion yet i.e. Six Nations. I’d take him in the squad but he wouldn’t be a starter if the game was tomorrow.

    David Denton is a interesting choice, I’d personally go with Heaslip even though he hasn’t been reaching the heights he did in 09. I’d also put Danny Care as my first choice 9, Phillips has physicality but Genia is a jack in the box, Care would give him a battle in my opinion.

  7. Don’t think Lawes should be anywhere near the side. Been injured for most of last season. Think the Lions need more of an enforcer in the second row or someone with more experience like Paul O’Connel

    1. Round three in the Rabo might be the making of Paul. All IRFU players back he may be overshadowed by his own bench. Ryan and with O Callahans performance against a strong Edinburgh could prove too much. Maybe!

    2. Pretty sure there’s a whole season between now and the Lions tour – Lawes has plenty of time to work his way in and is due to be back in a few weeks.

    3. what a rubbish selection….not an England player in it now you have ditced Lawes…..w*****s all of you!

      1. There is not an English player in it because they are not good enough. Name one English player who is the best in that position in Britain and Ireland right now? I would not even have Lawes in there, Bradley Davies should be in there as the big brute enforcer that he is. Sadly this will be dismissed as anti-English bias by some but I’m genuinely struggling to think of one … Perhaps Youngs of Phillips doesn’t regain his form? But even then there are Cusiter, Williams, etc. to choose from.

        1. I wouldn’t have Lawes in there either. But Corbs is pushing Gethin all the way, Cole would get my vote, and Care is the best B&I 9 in my opinion.

          I love the idea of Ashton and North as the wings, they offer something different to each other. Ashton, if on form, cannot stop scoring tries.

          If Farrell becomes a full-fledged international 10 in the next year, he will at least be on the bench for Sexton.

          I don’t expect you to agree, however.

  8. I really cannot see a 34 year old Brian O’Driscoll being more of a threat in the centres than a 22 year old Manu Tuailagi.
    Apologies for flying the English and Harlequins flag, but do not rule out Chris Robshaw and Danny Care. A lot can happen in a year.

    1. A lot can indeed happen in a year, and there are so many players that could put their hands up.

      Ian Keatley at 10 for Munster, Christian Wade on the wing, Tipuric, Robshaw, Denton etc etc

    2. Tuilagi or Jonathan Davies will have something to say about the outside centre selection. Couldn’t resist the thought of reuniting Roberts and O’Driscoll though…

  9. Agree with most but you’re missing Ferris! Sexton a good shout but I have a feeling that if munsters keatley keeps current form he may push ahead.

    1. I think players like sexton, adam jones, ritchie gray, jamie roberts and george north are as nailed on as one can be (albeit a year before a tour!)

      1. A long to say anyone is nailed on, although I sort of agree about Sexton and Roberts. But Dan Cole has performed much better than Jones over the past year, so he certainly isn’t nailed on. And there is so much competition at lock and also on the wing. North was uneffective on the summer tour of australia, and I believe Bowe and Ashton are ahead of him.

  10. I really like that team – good mix.

    Had a conversation today with a mate and we thought it would be fun to pick a Lions squad after Autumn internationals, one after six nations and one just before the announcement (we were thinking about blocking out three Sundays at the pub for this purpose) – one a month seems like a much better idea though!

    We were also trying to work out who the “uncapped bolter” might be in this squad. Maybe Christian Wade unless he gets a run in the autumn?

  11. I think this tour will be one season too late for Paul O’C and BoD, look for Wade to kick on after a stunning opening weekend, and the Welsh forwards to dominate the 6 Nations..

    Could be a cracking fight for the 10 shirt between Sexton, Farrell and Priestland….

    I’m predicting an unbeaten tour, the first since 1974

  12. 1. Corbisiero
    2. Best
    3. Jones
    4. Gray
    5. Lawes
    6. Lydiate / Croft
    7. Warburton (c)
    8. Waldrom
    9. Youngs (if on form)
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Roberts
    13. Tuilgai
    14. Ashton
    15. Kearney

  13. To early to predict names on numbers yet…but Warburton for me has gone backwards at a rate of knots and is not the player he was ..

  14. I would like to see Stuart Lancaster involved. His discipline work on and more importantly off the field has been fantastic. I do think that the locks, and back rows are going to upset some people with the selections, seems all nations have a preferred player, Denton, Ferris, Henry, O Connell, Warburton, lydiate, Waldrom, Croft, Gray etc. Will be interesting to see the final selection.

  15. Difficult to imagine so few English players in the team, and I think a lot of the Ireland players, particularly the front row, are very over rated.

    1. Jenkins
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. AWJ
    5. Lawes
    6. Lydiate
    7. Robshaw (c)
    8. Denton
    9. Youngs
    10. Sexton
    11. Bowe
    12. Roberts
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Ashton
    15. Kearney

    Youngs when on form is the only 9 we have at our disposal who can compete with Genia. Dan Cole has been the best tight head in the world for the past year. And Warburton is well out of form, I think Tipuric is more likely to go than him. Robshaw I simply had due to the fact that the team look like it needed a leader, and there was no-one that stood out as a 7 for me.

    1. Find it hard not to see north in the squad. All arguments aside the home nations have some tremendous game changers that could be selected in the back three. Would an ultra physical centre combination get the most out of a classy back three? Tuilagi and Roberts only know one way to go. I think Dan Cole will be involved as well as maybe a few youngsters.

      1. I do agree that North is class, with him Ashton, Bowe, Cuthbert and maybe even Wade, the wing spots are wide open.

  16. 1. Corbisiero
    2. Best
    3. Cole
    4. Gray
    5. Lawes
    6. Robshaw – capt
    7. Tipuric
    8. Haskell (!)
    9. Youngs (if on form)
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Roberts
    13. Tuilgai
    14. Wade
    15. Kearney

    1. Loving the Haskell shout!! Big fan of his! I still can’t decide what his best position is though. I thought he was excellent in NZ as a 7, as that is where he played out there. And Tipuric will be tough to pick if he is not even getting in the Wales side. If he can out the over-rated Warburton then he could well get the Lions 7 shirt.

    2. No way Robshaw would get 6 slot over Ferris, O’Brien, Lydiate and possibly Croft. Says something of depth that I still think he is class…

  17. I think Adam Jones isn’t mobile enough really, i’d start Cole. He should dominate the Aussies in the scrums and he will actual bring work rate.

    If Healy keeps showing his NZ form then he should start, Jenkins isn’t that great a scrummager and it’s something we should target.

    I also don’t agree with Lydiate and O’Driscoll. If Ferris isn’t out injured then he should start, Croft and O’Brien would also have something say about it. O’Driscoll i feel is passed it and shouldn’t be playing for Ireland anymore let alone the Lions.

    Denton and Visser are debatable but competition is really tight in those positions so i’ll give you the benefit of the doubt!

  18. sheridan, best, jones, gray, lawes, lydiate, robshaw, denton; phillips, sexton, north, roberts, O’Driscoll, visser, halfpenny

    1. I like the idea of wheeling Sheridan out just to terrify the Aussie front row! Halfpenny could be a good shout at full-back – lots of competition there though, as always.

      1. “lots of competition there though, as always.”

        Depends if you want a catch and run, and weave type of full back – that’s Kearney without competition. or you want a long range kicker – Halfpenny, or someone who can play as good on the wing – Foden. Kearney at his best is a clear winner for me though as he can do what the others do but they don’t possess his full game. That’s why he got ERC player of the year.

  19. Courtney Lawes? I still don’t understand why everybody rates him, lacks a decent work rate and the hard graft, more concerned about looking cool and glory runs. Anybody remember him being stripped of the ball in the 6Ns and basically costing England the match.

    1. Lawes has an incredible work rate! He tackles as well as any 6 in the world! He is basically like an extra back row and lets me honest that’s what all forwards are having to turn into now.
      That is also why I believe Cole is better than Jones, he does all the jobs a prop should do plus can do the work of a back row forward!

      1. Still not convinced by Lawes. Has the potential, but not sure about the intelligence. Flits in and out of games and doesn’t really grab them by the neck. Definitely does some amazing highlight reel stuff, but not sure about the unsung work. However Locks do mature into their role, so am not giving up on him yet. SR definitely the weak link for Lions at present (Gray aside) along with FH.

  20. 1. Healy / Jenkins
    2. Best / Bennett
    3. Jones
    4. Donnacha Ryan / Gray
    5. Paul O’ Connell (c)
    6. O ‘ Brien / Ferris O’ Brien is more of a six in my opinion
    7. Warburton
    8. Morgan
    9. Phillips
    10.Sexton
    11.North
    12.Roberts
    13.O’ Driscoll
    14.Bowe
    15.Kearney / Halfpenny

  21. I would have Ashton in there instead of Visser mainly because of experience. And cole instead of jones definitely.

  22. What nonsense!!!
    We all know that either Cipriani or Henson will start at 10!! No doubt over the next few months they will tell us why!

  23. I can’t judge about every country’s players, but I have to admit that I am shocked by the exclusion of Dan Cole. In your world 15 at the end of the summer tours, you put him in your World XV, let alone a Lions XV, and not too much has changed since then!

    I also don’t buy into the inclusion of so many Ireland players – nor Wales, for that matter. Wales aren’t [i]that[/i] good. They may have won the Grand Slam, and they are the best side in the NH at the moment, but not so good as for 8 players in the team.

    I don’t know who I’d go for. It’d be interesting to choose who Gatland chooses. Hopefully, despite being Wales coach, he won’t let that cloud his vision.

    1. All this counting of per country and saying a country isn’t good enough to have that many players makes no sense. Pick a player, say who should be in ahead of him because they are better than him. Wales don’t have eight players in there because they won the slam, they have them because they’re considered the eight best B&I players in that position right now. You can’t “balance” it artificially if the other countries do not have better players.

      A lot has changed since Cole was in that XV actually – Gethin Jenkins has come back to fitness.

        1. Sorry, my mistake. However, given that, Cole isn’t better than Jones. I can see what you mean about the world XV that RB posted earlier, but I can’t see Cole displacing Jones given current status. Long way to go though.

      1. Jenkins plays on the opposit side of the front row though, so in that respect, nothing has changed. Cole is a better scrummager and loose player than Jones.

  24. Denton & Lawes are unlikely to make the plane let alone the starting XV. In fact neither can even claim to be an automatic first choice for their respective countries. Aside from that, not a bad opening stab though come the first test injury and form will mean only about eight of this team will be on the park.

  25. Captaincy is also going to be a BIG issue. Warburton has perennial injury problems and competition in the backrow is so tough he’s not guaranteed to make the test team unless he’s at the very top of his game. Of the other candidates; Robshaw won’t make the plane, Ford & Hartley are also currently battling it out for the third hooking spot behind Best & Rees whilst both POC & BOD are a little long in the tooth. As things currently stand I think I’d go with BOD but whether I’ll come to the same conclusion in nine months time remains to be seen.

    1. The debate of captain is an interesting one. That is why when I had a stab at the team I put him in, just because it needed a captain. I think Hartley is an interesting one, he is in my opinion only really fighting for the starting hooker spot with Best. And BOD surely will not be the best 13 we can find 9 months from now.
      I am guna throw a name out there, AWJ?

  26. AWJ will have his first season as captain of the Ospreys this season. He was marked for captaincy early in his Welsh career.
    I guess it comes down to who is a nailed on starter and that won’t come out until post 6N. Being a lock does stand him in good stead for Lions captaincy.
    Here’s another curveball, what about Jamie Roberts? He has the game and tour experience, the respect of his fellow players, leads by example but is lacking in club or national captaincy.

  27. Gatland mentioned O’Driscoll, O’Connell, Warburton and Robshaw as the captain candidates this morning on the radio, but did say that the captain would have to be a certainty to start. Don’t think that one can therefore be picked until after the form of the 6N is taken into account.

    1. Difficult because you could predict now, and then they get selected for Six Nations. But although, if he continues as he’s started the season I think he could be in the England squad, I’m going to say Joel Tomkins.

  28. I would assume it will be Warburton. He would start ahead of Robshaw anyway and I don’t believe that O’Driscoll or O’Connell are dead certs for the team which I would say Warburton is, not to mention that Gatland obviously trusts him.

  29. I am still not convinced Warburton is a dead cert to start at all!

    And wild uncapped player – Joe Launchbury?

  30. Want a captaincy wildcard – Ryan Jones. Was in outstanding form last season and plays in a position where there’s no outstanding test match certainty. From this far out I’d still stick with my original pick of BOD however don’t discount him come May.

    1. Interesting shout. But I think there are better players in his position coming who are more likely to stay fit. Again BOD to stay fit until then is also unlikely.

  31. I agree with the majority of your first choice team- however No.8 I think that either Toby Faletau (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ire) or Sean O’Brien (Ire) would be my choice before Denton.

    I’d like to make another point about Visser- Although undoubtedly he is a very talented player, the majority of his experience is only in Rabo Direct and Heineken Cup action. When it comes to internation experience, it’s a different kettle of fish! If he can continue, in this form against high quality opposition then yes, he will be one of the front runners, but there is major competition for a position on the wing with Bowe, Earls, Halfpenny, Cuthbert, Ashton and Foden

  32. Team for first mid-week game. With the intention of seeing their performance and how they could push for a test spot. (Bearing in mind this might not be a completely different team to the test side).

    1. Marler
    2. Rees/Ford
    3. Murray/Ross
    4. Parling/?DOC
    5. Lawes/Gray
    6. SOB/Lydiate
    7. Robshaw (Mid-week captain)
    8. Morgan

    9. Care
    10. Sexton/Laidlaw
    11. Ashton/North
    12. J Davies
    13. Joseph
    14. Visser
    15. Foden/Brown

    Also,at work today somebody raised an interesting point. Due to his “impact” on Halfpenny, Wilkinson is rumoured to be playing some role with the touring party. Even as a potential kicking coach to have his presence on the tour

  33. 1. Healy
    2. Best
    3. Cole
    4. Gray
    5. Lawes
    6. Lydiate
    7. Warburton (c)
    8. O’Brien
    9. Phillips
    10. Sexton
    11. Visser
    12. Roberts
    13. Davies
    14. North
    15. Kearney

  34. I don’t know who is sadder: you lot posting ‘teams’ or me reading them. but for what its worth BOD should he make it must be a 12 – too slow for 13.

  35. Would anyone else like to see a centre combo of Roberts and Tuilagi? Roberts to smash defensive line & offload, Tuilagi to hand off next defender and create outside space for whoever (list is too long).

    1. How can Tuilagi create space outside him when he goes into contact with the ball? He needs to pass for the space outside him to be useful, he can’t be a decoy runner all of the time.

      1. Tuilagi can create space outside by taking the ball into contact, drawing in three of four opposition players and the ball being recycled quickly!? That is how a simple over lap is created!? How is that so complicated?

        1. Wouldn’t the space be better utilised by avoiding the contact or at least passing the ball out of the contact? Going to ground and recycling is classic English grinding rugby, something that stopped being successful back in the middle of the last decade. Nobody is impressed by the phase count anymore. So you’ve sort of made my point for me – don’t pick Tuilagi because he’ll look for the contact and take the ball with him, pick a player who can pass instead.

          1. Geat, in a limited situation where scores are close at end of game then yeah, it can work. But Munster get into those position by playing rugby first.

          2. Fair enough.

            As you mention the mid 00s, it may (won’t) interest you to know that since the start of 2006 Wales have scored 200 tries, England 159, yet Wales have a 46% win rate compared to England’s 50.5%.

          3. This is true.

            In the same time frame, and perhaps more relevantly given the thread, England have won 38% of their games against Australia, Wales 13%

          4. Yeah, that is the depressing stat for Wales fans. Why can’t we step up? I think it is true that if you were able to scientifically create a Welsh and English team that were matched precisely then the English one would beat the Aussies and the Welsh one wouldn’t. That inability to believe is still there, that 1% (now I sound like Woodward, shoot me) is our problem. It’s a small margin, as the summer results show, but we need to get over it. I however am lost for ideas as to how. I thought we had it this summer… I think the Lions (even if, IF, it has a lot of Welsh players) will not suffer in the same way, the mindset will be different, helped by the international mix.

          5. As an Englishman who has lived in Cardiff for ages, I’m not exactly Wales’ biggest fan (in a banterish way) as you can imagine. But I truly thought that was Wales’ big chance and they were going to win in a big way down under. The first game was unlucky in as much as Genia was sublime, but the last two tests you can certainly say Wales lost rather than Australia won.

          6. Geat, that is it in a nutshell. Out of three games why did we throw away two? The problem is you can point to ao many times we have done that over the years. I still remember Cooper kicking the ball to them on 80 minutes when we were in the lead…. Depressing. At least we are only a few weeks away from another crack.

      2. Many times I’ve seen Tuilagi hand off one defender, attract another defender and thus create space on his outside. It works pretty well for Leicester. Yes he needs to pass before he’s tackled or offload in the tackle or at least present the ball for quick recycling, but he’s perfectly capable of any of these options.

  36. Interesting thought from Stuart Barnes. Ferris, Heaslip and O’Brian. I think that the back row is the hardest positions to fill at the moment. All four nations have a shout. Lydiate for one.

    1. Barnes is a contrary old fool at the best of times. He’ll be calling for Jonny next. Why would anyone go for an all Irish back row when they have been second best in their two recent competitions against the Welsh back row?

      1. I may be a Bath and England supporter, but I have no time for any of Barnes’ opinions. He spends most of his time fawning over Leinster – whether they’re playing in the game he’s commentating on or not…

        1. I think we can all discard Barnes opinion, Heaslip will be nowhere near the Lions squad, and the Welsh and English back rows are both much stronger than the Irish back row.

          1. The English back row contains players better than Heaslip, Ferris and O’Brien? Who? Robshaw is average – so average that even those who advocate his position in the Lions talk about his leadership rather than his playing merits. Croft would get nowhere near displacing any of the Irish players.

            If Heaslip can return to form then for me the backline is Warburton, Lydiate and Heaslip. Very, very tough to not have Ferris or O’Brien but it is an incredibly competitive back row for B&I right now.

  37. If only there was an international type tournament to see all four teams that contribute to the lions in say, February 2012. Bring on the six nations!!!!!

  38. Boy, its like being back on 606. Munster play rugby? Munster’s stock in trade is to recycle. Once Kidney re-invented them and left they’ve gone back to a pretty one-dimensional but reasonably effective style. Leinster are the bench-mark now but even they play phases – you can’t play the off-load game all the time – Wales proved that after 2005. The off-load is useful no doubt but not the be-all and end-all. The mauling game was more England’s style, keep it tight, don’t allow the opposition the chance to compete for the ball and roll up the pitch. That’s far more boring than the phase game, but only because its so effective. If England had played a proper phase game they would be a damn sight further forward into re-building than they are now.

  39. Robshaw isn’t a “classic” 7 but he was tremendously effective in the last 6 Nations. Sam has been singled out because he made an impression from a very young age and followed in the footsteps of one of the world’s best 7s in Martyn Williams. I doubt SW will even go on that tour, he’s too much of a gym monkey and his body can’t cope with the collisions. On present form, you have to find a place for him in the side. I hope Gatland shows a more balanced approach to selection than you brighty.

    1. Robshaw was not tremendously effective, he was average, slightly above average in a below average back row. It’s not unbalanced to say that players who are not as good as others (Robshaw) should not make the tour. He is not good enough – there are a lot of people ahead of him – Sam (yeah, injuries notwithstanding, let’s see how he goes), O’Brien (not a classic 7 either but much better than Robshaw), Tipuric… Sam has been singled out because he had a brilliant World Cup, not just because of his age. He has failed to live up to it yet.

  40. Okay Brighty, I’ll just say that as a fellow Welshman you are giving Welsh rugby fans a very bad name with your one-eyed jaundiced opinions of players from other countries. Its a shame.

    1. Oh don’t start with the old prejudiced argument. I don’t care what country robshaw is from, he is not Lions quality and is not as good as other B&I sevens. Try pointing out why you so clearly think he is instead of lazily resorting to cliches about being one eyed. I don’t profess to have the arrogance to speak for welsh rugby fans, these are my opinions, nobody else’s. Disagreeing with you doesn’t make them wrong, jaundiced or whatever other weak slur you will come up with next.

  41. Laugh my socks off brighty. You make big statements like that about a player, you have to back them up. You are there to be shot down not me.

    1. Back them up how? That is what I am doing, restating that he is not a good enough back row to be in the B&I team. You seem to have a problem when people disagree with you and are incapable of returning to the point, you’d rather get into some odd personal stuff that doesn’t even make sense. Are you going to “shoot down” all of the other guys on here who have rubbished Lawes, Warburton, etc? This is a discussion full of opinions, get used to it. It happens a lot.

      1. Okay Brighty, I quite like a discussion, I quite like people who I disagree with and who disagree with me. Robshaw isn’t good enough, Why? Because he is English?
        To back up means to prove what you say. To restate is just repeating your original statement. I don’t like using stats to prove a point, but I probably could. I can also use the words of Warburton himself who singled out Robshaw after the England game as a very tough opponent. I could point out that England have undergone something of a resurgence since Robshaw was captain. I could point out that as a rugby watcher you need to look a lot deeper than the rantings of the pundits because often times you will have players, llike Robshaw, come in under the radar and steal the rug from under you. I could also point out that Robshaw has led the best team in the English Premiership last season and a succesful team like them would not have a passenger in such a vital position as the back row. I could back up my point about Robshaw rather than repeat it a lot more, but I fear it would be lost on someon who would rather repeat and not reason. I could also go on and consider Croft, and England as a whole. But I’ll bow to your superior repetitive knowledge and leave it alone.

        1. Very nicely put Dave. Robshaw is very business like as a 7. A bit like Richard Hill, a lot of his work goes unnoticed. He is a very good captain and leader of players. He may not be as good a 7 technically as some others, but his passion and physicality are second to none.
          As for the six position, it’s a tough call. Lydiate would be my first choice, but O’Brien, Croft and even Kelly Brown could be in with a shout. And I wouldn’t discount Tom Johnson either. He had a great Six Nations and could push for a spot if he continues to play like he did.

        2. Dave, my point is that the standards are vey high. The back row is the most competitive position in B&I. As others have also said, Robshaw is not in the same bracket as the other players in that position therefore does not merit selection. All of my comments about him have been relative to those he is competing with. For the Lions we do not need a 100% committed trier, or even a a good captain, we need a quality player because Aus certainly have one. Please do give me the stats that would change my mind, but at the moment I see a number of players ahead of him. Similarly Croft would not displace Ferris or Lydiate.

          1. Brighty you are becoming very repetitive, and as I head down this I found it somewhat difficult to read.
            A back row player is much more than the flashy media hyped players that you are talking about. Heaslip (whom you have complimented), will not be near the squad, he is lazy and ineffective.
            Warburton was terrific in the last world cup, but has also be ineffective since, and on current form, should not go either. O’Brien is not a 7, and should only be consudered at 6.
            This therefore leaves Robshaw. An incredible work rate, which by the way is exactly what any touring side needs. And he is not just that. He will certainly be on the place, and could also well be the captain.

          2. Jacob, I’m replying to a lot of different replies, and needing to rebut claims of bias just because I don’t think Robshaw is as good as the other options, so I hope that’s why it looks like I am being repetitive and it’s not some dig because our opinions differ.

            And differ they do; we’re not going to agree on this as I cannot see Heaslip in the same way you do. I think he is a magnificent 8 who charges around the park. His work for Leinster is magnificent. I recall he had a poor game for Ire in the summer but that could just be temporary form. So in order to agree with your logical argument that ends with Robshaw being 7 I would have to agree with your assessment of those players you discuss and I do not. I’m also not impressed with workrate because we are talking about picking the best 7 in the B&I. Once we’re into the top 5 then they all have incredible workrate, all put their bodies on the line and all are brilliant players compared to the general population, Robshaw included. I would say that, for me, Robshaw is around number 3 or 4 in the list and therefore for me he doesn’t make the plane. This still means I rate him as 3rd or 4th best 7 in B&I so this isn’t slagging him off or calling him crap, it’s just that he is in such exalted company in the back row.

  42. @ Dave
    I think Robshaw is good but not better than O’Brien, Tipuric or Warburton (at his best).
    Same thing with Croft.

  43. looking at this side, we might as well send the welsh team to Australia and no one else, really unbalanced side…when was the last time Roberts played well? and surely Toby flood is better 10 than Sexton,

    1. There is a lot of talk about the back row and who is better than who. It is a very competitive area for the tour and the 6N will probably decide who goes to a large extent. Also Gatland will be looking to play the game in a certain way and he has gone on record as wanting to play an expansive game. That may play into the hands of someone like Croft but away from Robshaw. All good nationalistic banter though!

      1. Staggy, completely agree. It looks like we could spend from now until tour day discussing the back row. At 6, do you take Croft for the running and the almost extra centre he gives you (and extra lineout option, v. important against Aus), but then you miss out on Lydiate’s chopping..; but what if you can’t get O’Brien in at 7, don’t you then need his unrivaled carrying at 6…. If you have Morgan or Faleatau or AN other at 8, would you want Ryan Jones at 6 for his experience? It’s a very tough one.

    2. Matthew, I don’t think there’s any aim for balance across the countries in the side. The Scottish had 1 test player in quite a few of the last tours? For each player the aim is to pick the best man in that spot, and with this suggestion it is more Welsh than others, but there’s nothing pro-Welsh or anti-TheOthers about that.

      Suggested side is 7 Welsh, 4 Irish, 1 English, 3 Scottish. That doesn’t sound half badly spread to me anyway?

      Given Wales won the Slam and got the furthest in the World Cup then I’d say it would be surprising if they did not dominate the current list. But this will all change after the next 10 or so international matches anyway.

      1. That’s disingenuous and you know it. In winning the Six Nations and nailing 4th in the RWC, Wales didn’t have to beat any of the (what was formerly) Tri Nations sides. In fact, they lost twice to them.

        If it really is a matter of recent results, then why will you not take the fact that England came second in the Six Nations (the difference being a 76th-minute try), and had a reasonably successful summer tour (a draw in South Africa is better than Wales have

      2. That’s disingenuous and you know it. In winning the Six Nations and nailing 4th in the RWC, Wales didn’t have to beat any of the (what was formerly) Tri-Nations sides. In fact, they lost twice to them.

        If it really is a matter of recent results, then why will you not take the fact that England came second in the Six Nations (the difference being a 76th-minute try), and had a reasonably successful summer tour (a draw in South Africa is better than Wales have ever managed there)?

        1. It is not uniquely disingenuous as you miss out that in winning the GS Wales beat everyone else in the B&I selection mix, so can call themselves the best team and therefore by extension have a good portion of the best players. If you can’t call yourselves the best team after beating everyone else then the whole discussion becomes a bit pointless.

          The difference in one match, Eng v Wal, was a 76th minute try. Close and excellent game. The different in another match was a charge down try. It doesn’t change the result or the final standings … if we get into breaking it down like that then each of the positions achieved at the end of the GS could have moved, as always with close international rugby. By the same logic Wales only narrowly lost all of their games against Tri-nations sides and in fact could have been a whisker from winning the world cup itself.

          It also doesn’t change the fact that the suggested side is far from “the Welsh side”, it’s 7 welsh and 8 non-Welsh. But by bringing up England I guess your beef is that there should be more English in there? As I said earlier, man for man I can’t see who England would displace in this current list right now, but then we get back into the discussions about Robshaw, Cole (which I do agree is a close one and favouring Jones on this one is an opinion that no doubt I only hold because I am Welsh), etc.

          1. What I’m saying is the fact Wales got the grand slam, in the scheme of a Lions selection, doesn’t mean very much.

            Look at England, France and Wales since 2003. England have won just two of their 6N meetings against Ireland, but have beaten France more times that not. Does that mean Ireland also beat France regularly? No, they’ve won just one.

            I personally think England players have that little something extra about them, especially when playing Australia, and that should be taken into account on the marginal calls (such as Cole over Jones, etc)

          2. Geat, that is an interesting one because you are right that the Wales players suffer with some sort of mind fudge when playing the SH teams whereas England expect to win. This is why I said earlier that I think the Lions will help with this, the mix of heads in the team. I think this proposed selection looks ok and is not Welsh biased as less than half are Welsh. Scotland did beat Aus last year so they can argue that they have as much right to feel they should have a strong rep in the mix as well. Cole v Jones will be a tough one to call, that indefinable winners quality that you mention, that belief they will win, could be the decisive factor.

            I agree that the Slam doesn’t matter in itself, but we got the slam by having a good bunch of the best players, so it’s more, for me, an indicator of the player quality than a reason in itself.

          3. Aren’t you glad it’s up to Gats and co to pick, rather than us lot?

            One thing’s for sure, whoever makes the squad I will be supporting them with just as much enthusiasm as I do for club or country. When Steyn nudged over that penalty in the last series, it was one of the most gutting sporting losses I can remember…

          4. Completely agree. I remember screaming my head off when BOD scored that try almost 12 years ago in Aus. The best thing I have ever seen in rugby was the 1st scrum in the 2nd test in SA last time out. Last series was like watching some sort of dream team when you see BOD, Roberts, Croft, Wallace, Vickery all in the same team. I hope for the same next year.

          5. I don’t know about you, but I have a really good feeling about this tour, even though we’re still months away.

            Australia are, on average, the weaker of the three SH “giants”, and we seem to have so much talent at our disposal we’re having huge arguments like the ones on this page. Provided the team gels, we could be in for a real treat.

  44. I think that the arguments over some positions may be acedemic if the French clubs don’t agree to let players go. Gethin Jenkins is in serious danger of missing out. Possibly Steffon Armitage as well although he is a reach in a crowded back row, although many regard him as the best English openside!

  45. “Best” isn’t an automatic selection criteria for the Lions, someone with a good knowledge of Lions’ history would be familiar with that concept. Most suitable is a far more accurate description of Lions’ selection. There’s a long list of “best” players who toured and either weren’t selected, or were and subsequently dropped. I don’t think we should be so dogmatic about the selction of “our” players. That approach often ends in tears.

    1. Brighty, always grateful to you for fighting against any anglocentricity in this blog. I have to say that my first impression is that there will not be many English in the first team Lions, because, as well as we have played over the last 6 – 9 months, this has come about largely as a collective team effort rather than sustained brilliance from individual players.

      However, I do think that we have a good number of players that are there or thereabouts, with quite a few still improving, so the picture could well change over the course of the next 6 months. As of now the independant is probably not too far wrong. I think more Welsh will start than any other nation.

      I think that the Irish have the most to lose over the next 6 months as several of them are towards the end of their careers and possibly the English and Scots may benefit.

      However I may be proved completely wrong which is the beauty of sport and what keeps discussions like this flying along!

  46. Staggy, I also agree that the English contingent is likely to increase as the season continues – Ashton looks like he is coming back into form (though even then the wings are hotly contested incl. some of the new English boys), Youngs could take scrum half and the front row could yet be completely English, for starters. Also couldn’t agree more that the move towards a more unified team has underpinned England’s move forward since the world cup. Similar thing happened in Wales after 07.

    I worry that Gatland may find himself in a tough place with Welsh player selection – pick “too many” and there will be accusations of bias (as there already are on this blog). Pick “too few” and he could undo the great work he has done for us thus far once the Lions finishes. The latter problem though matters only to us Welsh, especially those who remember the Henry disaster.

    I posted the article because it’s interesting but also to show that I’m not the only currently not seeing a lot of English players in the first XV, it’s not anti-English bias.

    1. I’m confident Gatland will be 100% objective and pick the players/combinations to win. Don’t think there will be any positive or negative discrimination. Agree it may make his position as Wales coach less tenable post lions if players aren’t happy with their non selections.

      Pre summer tour I thought the Welsh would make the biggest contribution to both the touring party and first 15, now I’m not so sure. Not getting the forward dominance was a concern, both England and Ireland have recent wins smashing them up front and this has to be the blueprint to follow. It’s a shame only Wales and England get a crack at Australia this autumn, would have been great to see all nations play.

    2. Only one Englishman? Great news – even better if Lawes is dropped too. The less we have to do with this Lions farce the better. The whole concept is demeaning to northern hemisphere rugby. Are we really saying that the only way we can beat the southern teams is with a combined team of all the best players in Britain and Ireland? Can you imagine NZ, Oz and South Africa agreeing to put together a team for a northern tour? England can beat the big beasts of the south and has done so. Let’s work towards that instead of these phoney made-up teams.

      1. In this age of protest, if i could be bothered to get up and rally about anything, it would be against Skinny’s opinion on the Lions.

  47. Brighty, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the dilemma faced by every Lions coach. Do you go with the players that you trust and know or players who might be better, but you don’t know how they are going to cope/react/play on tour? Many Lions coaches have got it wrong – Sir Clive for one!

    Have to say that I do tend to agree with Matt that Gatland has a good chance of getting it right, particularly as he has coached in England, Ireland and Wales.

  48. 1. Corbisiero
    2. Best
    3. Jones
    4. Gray
    5. Lawes
    6. Lydiate
    7. Warburton
    8. Morgan

    9. Care
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Tulagi
    13. Davies
    14. May
    15. Kearney

  49. 1. Corbisiero
    2. Rees
    3. Jones
    4. Gray
    5. Evans
    6. Croft
    7. Robshaw
    8. Faletau

    9. Care
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Davies
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Halfpenny
    15. Kearney

  50. just wondering what people think of the idea of including italian players in future selections. I believe it should be seriously looked at and would be very good for the game

  51. On the subject of English players getting into the side: Danny Care stands as good a chance as any other 9s. Dan Cole is excellent in the scrum and proved himself against the Saffas. Chris Robshaw’s stats for the 6 nations were off the charts in terms of tackles made and turnovers won – not a flashy player but a great work rate and gets the results. Other possible English forwards are Lawes, Hartley, Croft. Apart from Care I can’t see any English backs starting but I would be surprised if Ashton, Tuilagi and Foden (when he returns from injury) don’t get into the squad – also would like to see Christian Wade get some game-time in the upcoming tests.

  52. 1. Healy (Jenkins)
    2. Strauss (Rees)
    3. Adam Jones (Cole)
    4. Gray (A.W. Jones)
    5. O’Connell (Lawes)
    6. Ferris (O’Brien)
    7. Warburton (Tipuric)
    8. Heaslip (Faletau)
    9. Care (Marshall-Ulster)
    10. Sexton (Biggar)
    11. Visser (North)
    12. Roberts (Hook)
    13. O’Driscoll (Davies)
    14. Bowe (Halfpenny)
    15. Kearney (Foden)

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