TRB Readers’ Test XV to take on Australia

Over the past week we’ve been running a series of articles looking at who will start the all important first test this weekend, broken down position-by-position and including polls for you to vote for your starters. After totting up the results, this is the team that you, the readers, have picked to take on the Wallabies this weekend, along with the percentage of votes that each player received

TRB Readers Test XV to take on Australia
15. Leigh Halfpenny (79%)
14. Alex Cuthbert (36%)
13. Brian O’Driscoll (93%)
12. Manu Tuilagi (64%)
11. George North (94%)
10. Johnny Sexton (92%)
9. Mike Phillips (49%)

1. Mako Vunipola (54%)
2. Tom Youngs (75%)
3. Adam Jones (81%)
4. Geoff Parling (36%)
5. Paul O’Connell (92%)
6. Tom Croft (51%)
7. Justin Tipuric (60%)
8. Jamie Heaslip (71%)

There are some interesting results here. Most notably, there is the absence of tour captain Sam Warburton, who only polled 30% of votes – this was before his performance against the Waratahs, however. Manu Tuilagi is favoured to Jamie Roberts at 12, while in the engine room Geoff Parling beat out Alun-Wyn Jones by 1% (just two votes). Tom Youngs comprehensively ousted his Welsh rival Richard Hibbard to the hooker spot, while Mike Phillips was just two percentage points ahead of Ben Youngs. Brian O’Driscoll, about whom many had expressed doubts prior to the tour, has confirmed his exemplary form with 93% percent of the votes, second only to George North on the wing, who polled an astonishing 94%. Johnny Sexton and Paul O’Connell, with 92% each, are also readers’ favourites.

So would you be happy to see the above team run out against Australia on Saturday? If not, which changes would you make?

19 thoughts on “TRB Readers’ Test XV to take on Australia

  1. I still think Maitland will start ahead of Cuthbert, and it touch and go between Parling and AWJ.

    Looking at the votes, this would be the bench:

    16. Hibbard
    17. Corbisero
    18. Cole
    19. AW Jones
    20. O’Brien
    21. Youngs
    22/23: 2 of Farrell/Roberts/Maitland/Hogg

  2. Surely North and Cuthbert are the wrong way round. North should be at 11 and Cuthbert at 14? Personally I would pick Zebo at 14, and have Maitland on the bench.

  3. after Saturday AWJ ( Parling on bench), Jonathan Davies ( Teulagi probably not available anyway), close between Zebo and Cuthbert, 1 plays, 1 on bench, Warberton will play with Croft on other flank and probably Falatau, Heaslip on bench. I would just play hibbard but close , Youngs on bench with Farrell,Cole, Tipuric…

  4. Fair choices based on performances (bar AWJ edging Parling at the weekend), but not units I would be comfortable with, e.g. back row too light and too loose.

  5. As you say, the back row is definitely too loose. In reality, Warburton will of course be picked and probably Croft for his line out work. Then I think Faletau would bring balance to this back row.

  6. I just don’t get it…
    Vunipola, seriously.. Corbisiero or Grant for me
    Hibbard in the middle
    Gray in the engine room with AWJ on the bench
    Croft/Tupiric/Heaslip – no brainer (Warburton shouldn’t even be on tour never mind Captain…
    It has to be Jonathan in the mid-field with BoD and Maitland instead of Cuthbert..

  7. It would be an interesting to see how this poll would alter after the last two games.

    JD has to start, has been the outstanding centre on tour. I would like to see Hibbard start, Youngs off the bench. AWJ in the engine room with Warburton at 7, Tips got shown up on Tuesday. neilthedeal, suck it up, Warburton is the Captain, will remain the Captain, and will keep the 7 shirt and keep Tips on the bench (at best, could even see Tips as a ‘dirt tracker,).

  8. Based on performaces over the last three days;

    Front row has to be Jones, Youngs and Corbiesiro, Cole so close to ousting AJ, Hibbard and Best haven’t hit over 50% in line outs I would guess.

    AWJ and PC in the engine room Gray has been average at best, Parling’s brain and line out ability nudged him in from of Ian Evans for the bench spot.

    Back row; Walberton WILL start, irrespective of Gat’s words, he has/had to start the first test, Tipiric got out 7’ed yesterday, Croft is in due to line out, and Heaslip has been player of the tour so far for me! O’Brien to make the best to cover all 3 positions.

    Backs pick themselves; Phillips, Sexton, Manu, BOC, North, Cuthbert and Halfpenny. Manu will play as Gatland can’t play without a punch up the centre, centre. JD to make the bench with Hogg and Farrell.

    1. There’s no space for a centre on the bench. Gatland’s game plan will largely revolve around Phillips at 9. This will make him a Wallabies target.
      Gatland would be a fool to go into the tests without a second scrum half. The three backs on the bench will almost undoubtedly be Youngs, Farrell, Hogg.

  9. I think Hibbard will start to help Vunipolo in the scrum, Youngs will come off the bench.

    The lineout has been a mess and if youngs plays that will help Parling’s case as he plays with him at club and international level.

    Croft is a sure start for the lineout if nothing else, Gats like ball off the back and croft is the best in the world at that.

    Warbuton is a better partner for Croft as he is more Physical than Tupuric, O’brain would be a better match for Tupuric.

    Maitland should start instead of Cuthbert especially if North plays, we don’t need the power.

    Davis will play with BOD, which I really like, Davis is very under-rated. However, somebody better recover because there is a strong possibility that BOD or Davis won’t go the whole distance.

    What I like is that most of the questionmarks are not about the spine of the team

    tighthead (jones) secondrow (POC) number 8 (Hisleap) halfbacks (Phillips, Sexton) were all decided ages ago, that means the lions know what there about, the decision makers are there and they are our top players.

  10. Good looking team – suspect AWJ would come in now if the vote was held now.

    Cannot believe people are angling for Maitland to start – on Saturday he gave a textbook perfect display of how to eliminate yourself from test match consideration. No defence, no zip, can’t catch, can’t kick. I’m sure he can do those things at some point but on Saturday he messed them all up.

    1. no defence?! the only time he missed a tackle was when he was covering 10 for an injured sexton and wasn’t able to get back into position after a quick penalty was taken.

      I suppose assisting 3 tries in a previous game also counts for nothing.

  11. Niall, it was a poor defensive performance from Maitland, yes he was very good in the previous game but that doesn’t compensate for his performance on Saturday. I’m not a big Cuthbert fan either, he too struggles defensively but Bowe is injured and for now Cuthbert will have to do.

  12. That would be my ideal backline along with Tommy Bowe when he’s fit in for Cuthbert, The front row might be a bit lightweight in the scrum so the combinations I think need to be Hibbard and Mako or Youngs and Corbs. I’d also have Warburton in for Tipuric just because he’s better at the breakdown and vastly more experienced in test matches. Also Alun Wyn-Jones in for Parling after Saturdays performance and then we’ve got a great team I think.

  13. Hardly a ringing endorsement for Cuthbert. Very surprised that Phillips was not more unanimous.

    1. I would suggest that Phillips wasn’t so unanimous because Youngs has been pretty good.

      I don’t often agree with Stuart Barnes, but he made the point saying that Youngs had been the form scrumhalf going into, and on, the tour. However Phillips suits the gameplan better.

      Also I think Philips is a better partner for sexton. Power and subtlety combined. On the bench with Yiunda and Farrell you have pace and steady kicking. Overall you would say that sexton is better balanced with Phillips, and youngs is a better match to Farrell.

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