Ben Flower red card for vicious punches


Streaker starts mass brawl after tackle


Southland sensational try after big bump


Benito Masilevu's huge side-steps


Sam Burgess breaks cheekbone, plays on


Ludovic Mercier crazy reverse pass


Ben Tameifuna massive fend on huge prop


Female Streaker has no regrets


Ben Funnell slamming tackle on Hawkins

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

British & Irish Lions squad announcement - Sam Warburton named as captain

The 37-man Lions squad to tour Australia was revealed earlier today, with bookies favourite Sam Warburton named as captain. There were a few surprise inclusions, as well as some that were left out. Full squad below and video of announcement below.

British & Irish Lions 2013 squad:

Backs: Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg, Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Alex Cuthbert, Sean Maitland, George North, Jonathan Davies, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs.

Forwards: Dan Cole, Cian Healy, Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Matt Stevens, Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Richard Hibbard, Tom Youngs, Ian Evans, Richie Gray, Alun-Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell, Geoff Parling, Tom Croft, Toby Faletau, Jamie Heaslip, Dan Lydiate, Sean O'Brien, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton

No Rory Best, no Jonny Wilkinson, no Chris Robshaw. Wallaby Quade Cooper's cousin, Kiwi Sean Maitland, is included, as well as Matt Stevens, who retired from international rugby last year.

Coach Warren Gatland offered hope to those that missed out though, saying that there are a group of players who will no doubt be called up should their services be required.

"There was a robust debate about the squad and there were healthy discussions for every position. Some real quality players have missed out. We had a thorough process and it's been tough.

"If you look at previous tours there's six to eight players that always unfortunately get injured and you need to have replacements, so there's going to be a key group of back-up players that will potentially be called upon to come out and join the tour," Gatland explained.

Andy Irvine has since revealed that 33-year-old Jonny Wilkinson actually ruled himself out.

"The truth is Jonny wasn't up for it. He ruled himself out," Irvine told BBC Radio 5 live. "He told Warren that he feels his body isn't in the right shape to complete a tour like this. I admire his honesty and integrity."

The squad comprises of 15 Welshmen, 10 Englishmen, 9 Irishmen and 3 Scotsmen.

What is your initial reaction to the squad?

 

Time: 5:12
Credit: skysportsnews

Posted at 10:29 am | 105 comments

Posted in British & Irish Lions 2013

Viewing 105 comments

WoodenMan April 30, 2013 12:53 pm

Rory Best has to be a better man for the job than Dylan Hartley? Would also like to see another fly half in there, can't see why you would only take two.

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Dave April 30, 2013 1:22 pm

Bit of an anti-climax, really. The odd calls will be Hartley (Owens or Best would be better), Stevens (where did that come from?) and Gray (not playing well).

From an Irish perspective, Kearney and Murray might consider themselves fortunate to be touring, but I'm happy they are.

I also can't really support the captain decision. I'd personally have gone with BOD, though I will admit to being biased, being a Leinster man. But given Warburton is as certain of his spot as BOD (as in - he's not nailed on to start) then I felt it should go more to the experienced, proven leader. Warburton doesn't strike me as ready yet.

Fuck it though, even if I'm disappointed in some of the calls, I'm still really psyched about the tour and can happily get behind the team - though maybe not Hartley. Roll on June!

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Full Back April 30, 2013 1:40 pm

I think best's lineout throwing has let him down once too often, although I can't say I like hartley too much myself.
Agree with you on BoD but then again I'm as biased as you are for all the same reasons so fuck it.
M'ON THE LIONS!

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matt April 30, 2013 2:36 pm

I would have gone with POC, plus Gatland said a few weeks ago that he doesn't think he has ever chosen a back to be the captain of a team.

I don't like Warburton being captain, he is a 7, and he is not the best 7 even in Wales. So somehow we will be losing either a dedicated 6 to accommodate Warburton there, or we will be losing the Lions' best 7. It doesnt make any sense.

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Wallaby Boy April 30, 2013 5:17 pm

What position was a rather well known ABs captain?....I do understand the issue, but I think you are too rigid in your thinking....

Perhaps there are better choices, but I disagree with your argument or justification.

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matt April 30, 2013 6:45 pm

I'm not sure which AB captain you mean? If it's Umaga, who is the only one recently I can think of, then I still don't understand what you mean.

Fair enough, this site would be boring if we all agreed.

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DrG April 30, 2013 11:17 pm

Matt do live under a rock? Never heard of Richie McCaw?

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matt May 01, 2013 12:04 am

Of course, but I can't understand how referencing McCaw makes any sense here, he's a forward, who is the captain of team that has no relevance to this thread.

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DrG May 01, 2013 12:18 pm

Maybe our wires got crossed, but you said: "I don't like Warburton being captain, he is a 7." I agree with the latter part (not included) he is not the best 7. But that sentence was why mentioning 'His Humble Royal Highness Great Illustious King Richie' :P came about...

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matt May 01, 2013 6:25 pm

Sorry, I meant that because he is a 7 and not the best one we have, to play him we will be losing the better player. And as a result I do not like him being captain.

I happen to think 7 or 8 are the best positions to captain from, they tend to work the hardest and be involved in more than most positions, a great platform to set an example and lead.

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DrG May 01, 2013 11:10 pm

Ahh.. lol. ok I gotcha. Agreed!

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Canadian content April 30, 2013 5:06 pm

Agree Kearney should consider himself lucky and best unlucky

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Rhydian April 30, 2013 1:25 pm

How does Farrell even get a look in into the Lions squad? Would choose Adam Jones at fly half over him right now truth be told.

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Pam Banks April 30, 2013 1:37 pm

Because Daddy is one of the coaches? Can't be any other reason.

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matt April 30, 2013 2:29 pm

He is still a very talented player, he got shown up by Wilikinson on the weekend, but that in itself is no embarrassment. He does not have the ability to get a back line running that Sexton does, however, behind a dominant pack he is merciless, unforgiving and a relentless points machine. So if the weather is poor for the tests, or defences are ruling the game, he is a good choice to make the forward dominance that we should have tell on the score board.
Would still like Wilkinson to have gone though.

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Ottawa Rugger May 01, 2013 3:53 am

Every player has bad days, Farrell was just unlucky to go through his right before the squad was announced. The part he did play in the Six Nations was pretty impressive, he was also pretty good during the November internationals, especially against the All Blacks. Even in club form he performs well under pressure. He's supposedly very strict in the way he conducts himself while training. Furthermore, maybe there's something in his style of play that the coaches think will work well against Aussie sides. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Remember when he got nominated for Player of the Year, and everyone tore him to bits? Remember what he did next? He tore Dan Carter to bits. I say he bounces back now too

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Lochlainn May 02, 2013 12:10 am

are we all forgetting about europe's inform utility back, madigan ??

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JamesW April 30, 2013 1:31 pm

I foresee an injury in the flyhalf department and Gatland calling on Wilko. I would have thought three flyhalves would have been a given.

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Ottawa Rugger April 30, 2013 4:13 pm

My understanding was that it's at 10 there was most room for a utility back. I would have dropped Mike Phillips at 9 but brought along Greg Laidlaw, who can play both 9 and 10. Not only would both positions be covered, but you would have goal kicking potential as well. At least this way if there is an injury to Sexton or Farrell, the replacement is someone who has already gelled with the squad, and not a late fly-in. No disrespect to Wilko, but as a late inclusion maybe he won't work so well with someone who had been there all tour.

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matt April 30, 2013 6:47 pm

I agree on principle, but I think Wilkinson is sort of an exception, he seems to be every inch the pro, and he has played with most of that back line before anyway.

I thought they'd take James Hook as the utility, he can cover 10, 12, 13 and 15 if necessary.

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guest April 30, 2013 1:48 pm

completely agree. sexon is fairl injury prone and if wilko isnt the first man to be on the plane over as back-up it'll be a travesty. seriously hope he doesnt pick laidlaw or preistland.

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Elated Wallaby April 30, 2013 1:56 pm

think Dingo would be happy to some names left out..Joe Launchbury being one...bringing someone out of retirement (front rower) against the Wallabies.....WOW...GO WALLABIES!!

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poccio April 30, 2013 2:03 pm

what about no Visser? I thought he would have fit in well...and Rory best certainly deserved to be there as did Wilko and Robshaw...anyway I look foward to see them play!

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MSC April 30, 2013 2:14 pm

Because if one gets hurt, you can get another I suppose.

Rory Best missed his darts in the 6N. ATROCIOUSLY so against Scotland.
I reckon that was a big factor.

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BestHookerInTown April 30, 2013 2:27 pm

I don't understand why there's no Donnacha Ryan and Mike McCarthy. They were consistently good for Ireland this season, when Paul O' Connell was still struggling to run. Richie Gray hasn't been in very good form either.

And no Chris Robshaw is a very poor decision as well. People were tipping him to be captain and now he isn't even going. Think Gatland might think twice about that, considering Warbuton gets injured every second week!

Apart from that looks like a good touring squad.

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matt April 30, 2013 2:33 pm

I am a big England fan, but I don't see Robshaw's appeal. I'm sure there is more to him than I see, but it seems to me that his big selling points are his general work rate and his leadership. But there are players throughout that squad that do both of those things as well if not better. Healy, Cole and O'Brien get through just as much work or more. And BOD and POC seem to lead better than Robshaw. Also, Tipuric seems to be the standout 7 in the NH at the moment, so I don't really see any space for Robshaw to go.
Plus with 15 welsh and 10 Englishmen there is going to be a lot of work to do to bring them together, so maybe one way to do that is by only having one leader from those countries. Having Robshaw around may have caused the English and Welsh to congregate separately.

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BestHookerInTown April 30, 2013 4:01 pm

To be honest Matt after reading your response I think you're dead right, I never actually took that into consideration the whole "Anglo-Welsh" relations.

I still think that Robshaw is an outstanding player and this 6 nations really showed us that. But taking into account what you just said I suppose there is no real space for him on the plane.

Taking into account though that Tipuric is the (debatable) best 7 in the NH, who should his back row buddies be. Being Irish I think O'Brein deserves the 6 jersey, its where he plays best. But with Warbuton in as captain this could see a squeeze in the back row!!!

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matt April 30, 2013 6:51 pm

I would love to see O'Brien let loose on the Aussies, batter them, wear them out and then bring Croft on for 20 or 30 minutes and ask them to chase him around the park.
But as I said earlier, I think this is the problem with having Warburton as the captain, you either lose your best 6 so he can play there, or lose the (arguably) better 7 so he can play in his primary position.
I would also like to see Heaslip start.

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DrG May 01, 2013 12:22 pm

I share the same opinion as you on Robshaw... I don't see him matching any of the work rate of the other world 7's. It does worry me a bit to hear Warburton is captain because, as you said Tipuric should have that 7 shirt nailed to his back, so where is the captain going to play? Out of place at 6, 8? Second row?

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Canadian content April 30, 2013 5:10 pm

Agreed I can't understand croft, 6 only, over robshaw who can cover all three spots hell even lock if need be

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UpTheLowEnd May 01, 2013 6:01 pm

Croft can play both 6 and lock internationally (and has) and in my mind is a far greater talent than Robshaw. Sure Robshaw has the work rate but Croft has that x factor that you look for in a lion.

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Jeroo April 30, 2013 2:29 pm

Great to see Croft on the plane after such a serious injury. Would really have liked to see more of an xfactor from the wing options eg Zebo or Wade.
Still - will back this squad 100% role on June!
(also reckon Gatland might be waiting to see if Jonny makes it to the end of his season, then pop him on a plane to cover an inevitable injury to one of his 10's who will be included in every match day squad)

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matt April 30, 2013 2:37 pm

If I were Australia I would be packing the protein into the forwards, and the backs can have the next few months off, they've got almost nothing to worry about.

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Jeroo April 30, 2013 2:49 pm

I agree, pretty one dimensional out wide. Looking forward to seeing Tuilagi paired up with BOD or Roberts though!

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matt April 30, 2013 6:52 pm

Absolutely, Tuilagi might bring the youth and sheer athleticism that BOD has lost as the years have gone on. But with BODs brains and Tuilagi's brawn, I think they will cause the Aussies the odd worry, if the forwards let them have the ball

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Robbo72 April 30, 2013 2:36 pm

I think Richie Gray is very lucky - I would have taken Launchbury or Hamilton over him. Danny Care is unlucky. Has Sean Maitland really done enough to keep Ashton out?
I'm an English man and would not let Hartley anywhere near the plane, Rory Best any day.
In 2001 the Australians made sure that we needed 3 fly halves just ask O'Gara - I predict similar treatment of Farrell in the mid week games particularly as they know Sexton is prone to injury. Who is reserve fly half in mid week games? Absolute madness, who is 3rd choice fly half if either get injured? Probably BOD! In 2001 we had Jenkins, ROG & Jonny and then in the centres Catt & Greenwood who could both stand in if needed. Also by my reckoning there are only 3 goal kickers in the squad. You have to take 2 full backs and 3 fly halves - Gatland wants to win it for the Southern Hemisphere!

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ZeroB April 30, 2013 5:06 pm

Ashotn can't tackle his grandma. The kid has nightmares every time the opposition goes for his chanel...hasn't grown a pair yet.

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DanKnapp April 30, 2013 9:39 pm

Agree with ZeroB. Ashton shouldn't even be on the England tour to Argentina this summer. His tackling is appalling. He seriously needs some time out the international team to get his game together. Wade would be a much more exciting prospect, and might add a bit of creativity and surprise to our horrifically one-dimensional backline.

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cheyanqui May 01, 2013 6:50 pm

Agree. The problem with getting Wade to shine is to give him a chance, and a good setup man.

Imagine if as a defender, you have to choose to tackle Tuilagi or Wade? Might as well go home.

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Jon May 01, 2013 5:46 am

The Aussies didn't set out to injure ROG.
It just happened. There were like five different punch ups in that Tahs vs Lions game, both sides were swinging for the fences the whole game, virtually every member of both teams (certainly every single forward) was involved in one fight or another.
ROG was just unlucky in that he got bailed up by Mcrae and put in a position where he was made into a punching bag.
Besides, ROG isn't a particularly intimidating player. They were worried about Wilkinson, but they didn't regard ROG as much of a threat in 2001.

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Lions2013 April 30, 2013 3:28 pm

Surprised at Morgan's omission - was one of England's best players before he got injured and has returned well for Gloucester, also Heaslip's season hasn't been his best... Tom Wood can feel pretty hard done by too. Hartley and Stevens are both scandalous (coming from an Englishman) and if BOD gets injured our centres are going to be very predictable. Thought a couple of gambles could have been made; Twelvetrees, Marshall and Wade come to mind.

I really hope Cuthbert and North don't both start, I feel like this current Welsh side although easily the best in the NH right now, have a bit of a mental block against Aus (should have won down under and in the Autumn, but bottled it all 4 times). I think getting over the gainline is definitely key, but our backline is far too one-dimensional and lacks the X-factor of a certain Mr Williams who won us the last test in SA...

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matt April 30, 2013 6:56 pm

I think Wade, Zebo or that leinster centre, Madigan? could have brought an element of unpredictability to the backline that we are missing at the moment.

The Aussies will have no worries about kicking long to any of our winger, because they know all they can do is crash it back.

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Ottawa Rugger April 30, 2013 4:08 pm

So after going on for months about how French based players can't come, Gatland goes ahead and selects his Welsh players (Phillips, Jenkins) anyway? In this, and other selections, it appears Gatland had his mind made up way too early.

There appears to a lot of players omitted (Robshaw, Brown, Wade, Madigan) who national selectors probably pushed to keep out of the squad so as to be better prepared for their summer tours. Scotland, for example, will be playing in the quadrangular tournament against SA, Samoa, and Italy, so it's easy to see how they would want someone like Brown on that trip, but that still seems selfish to me. Whatever, Ireland are coming to Canada this summer, and it could bode well for us if half of their stars are in Sydney rather than Toronto!

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DanKnapp April 30, 2013 9:40 pm

Jenkins can't even get into the Toulon team because a certain Mr Sheridan is keeping him out. Farcical.

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Tom Curran April 30, 2013 4:18 pm

Robshaw's omission is mystifying. He has never been anything less than outstanding at international level, got two Man of the Match awards in the 6N, and couldn't be more highly spoken of by other players - remember the leaked feedback forms from the World Cup where they could not understand Johnson leaving him at home after the training camps.

Lydiate's inclusion is quite unbelievable, no international rugby for a year, barely any rugby of any kind in fact, and he will have it all to do - if his standards are not high enough the England boys will start wondering why the hell their captain is not there, and suspicions will grow of a Welsh bias. Sure, Robshaw may not have played in the Tests, but as a midweek captain, raising the standards of the guys on the outskirts of the Test team, I could think of no-one better. Don't think, in a hugely Welsh touring party both on and off the field, Warburton is the man to hold this all together (without even debating whether he's even the best 7 in the squad) and I fear for the squad unity with the current balance. The Robshaw omission in particular could well end up fueling that fire even more.

I hope I'm wrong though, the debatable half dozen picks or so apart this does look a strong collective, roll on June.

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John F April 30, 2013 4:40 pm

Well, as others have mentioned, the Australians will not be scared of the Welsh. It's not an incredible squad and with their pride on the line I can see the Australians winning this one. It's all good talking up certain Lions or claiming that the Welsh performance against England will mean something this summer, but I'm not sure it will.

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Jon May 01, 2013 5:54 am

This is probably true.
At least the part about the Australians not being scared of the Welsh.
We've got the wood on them. Game after game, we've won 'em all, home and away, by large and small margins, in tough circumstances and with a full strength team and one reduced by injury.

Here's the thing about the Welsh - they are big, tough and strong, physical and committed defensively. But they are predictable and rely on crash ball to get forward and Australia's defense is traditionally very good and the Wallabies usually make their tackles. So all we have to do to beat them is keep our discipline, make our one on one tackles, and keep our own structure in attack and we'll get over the top of them 9 times out of 10.

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TechnoMouse April 30, 2013 4:43 pm

I'm amazed not to see Tom Wood in the squad. I don't think many players epitomise the spirit, pride and work of the Lions more than him. Regarded as the hardest trainer at Northampton and England. Lydiate is good, but has barely played this year/season and has barely had time to get back to fitness, let alone form.

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Rodmac April 30, 2013 4:51 pm

Well I think it looks a pretty solid squad and there's always going to be a few surprise omissions. As a Scot I'm pretty pleased the 3 guys got in, Hogg is a fantastic runner with similar ability to Robinson at beating a man one on one (possibly why Wade wasn't taken?). Maitland has plenty of try scoring experience against some of these Aussies on their home grounds and I reckon he could be a surprise test selection. Gray is pretty inconsistent but hopefully will regain some of his earlier barnstorming performances. For me Jonny Wilkinson had to be selected, I reckon he is still the best 10 around just now and for sure he will be on a plane before the 1st test due to an 'injury' of some sorts!


I reckon with the size of players these days the backline is always gonna look a bit chunky but a Bod and Manu centre partnership looks well balanced and a North/cuthbert and Maitland wing option will also work.

Anyway good luck to them it's gonna be fantastic!!

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Wallaby Boy April 30, 2013 5:23 pm

Yes, but he should not need to rely upon a dominant pack!

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Rugbybb12 April 30, 2013 5:39 pm

O'Driscoll is one of the most respected players in rugby so I think he should have been picked as captain. But I do understand that it is important that there is a good relationship between captain and coach. (Also I don't think that anybody can say that they're happy that Hartley is on the tour!)

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chris April 30, 2013 5:44 pm

the wallabies are licking there lips!

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Rugbybb12 April 30, 2013 6:08 pm

Also who is going to play fly-half in the mid-week games?

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maddenough May 01, 2013 12:53 pm

Farrell and Sexton. Both of them need game time. Farrell to calm him down and get him into the groove of playing more games under pressure and Sexton to get back up to full match fitness.

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Guest April 30, 2013 6:19 pm

6 warburton 7 tupuric 8 faletau

That's what WG is going for. All welsh team bar BOD, POC, Sexton, Gray?, Tuilagi, Tom Youngs... Maybe

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Ando April 30, 2013 6:28 pm

Thanks Gatland, you just made our job a little easier! Pretty underwhelmed by the squad selections. Come on Aussies!!

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FatProp April 30, 2013 6:38 pm

I just don't understand how we only have 1 inside centre and 2 fly halves ? If you took Hook then you have good cover or a player like twelvetrees. Foden should have gone and maybe Morgan over the irish guys and Beattie should be the fourth scot in the squad. Robshaw is a good player but he is crap at decision making and isnt the best 7 (though neither is Warburton). Stevens is a fucking joke Muarry is just miles better. Now the captain is hard as no one is really nailed on apart from Adam Jones so why not make him captain he is the best player on the world for his position. It would always be a hard call but I think the squad is well balanced just the centres may not be good enough.

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matt the mauler April 30, 2013 7:14 pm

Ryan Grant's omission is very disappointing. Especially when Stevens and Vinapolu selected ahead of him considering he is better in the scrum, defence and the loose.

Best should have been selected - had a ropey 6 Nations but consistently the best hooker in the competition for many years, excellent leader and played very well for Ulster for a number of years - has done a hell of a lot more than Hartley and Youngs.

I think Rowantree had a big influence on front 5 selection hence the English dominance. Very poor.

Baffled by the two fly halfs and three scrum halves - Connor Murray is a surprise to me. Laidlaw's flexibility and kicking reliance would have maybe swung things in his favour. Sexton and Farrell are going to be at a high risk of injury/fatigue.

So pleased to see Maitland and Hogg in there. Given the chance I think they'll tear the Aussies up and will be the "finds" of the tournament playing with teammates who can create the space for them.

While disappointed behind the squad 100% 'mon the Lions.

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matt the mauler April 30, 2013 7:16 pm

Ow also, Beattie missing out was also a shame. Really don't rate Falateu and think both Beattie and Morgan should be on the plane ahead of him.

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Christophe April 30, 2013 8:08 pm

Allez les bleus !!!! 8-))

I can t wait the day France decides to tour Oz, NZ and SA with more players from the Pacific islands...May be this way we will win the tours and the 6N soon !!!

I look forward the tests and tour. Last one in SA was gr8

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Facepalm April 30, 2013 8:41 pm

Haven't read the comments so apologies if there's repetition.

My thoughts:
Zebo for Bowe.
Wilkinson for Farrell.
Care for Phillips.
Laidlaw for Murray.
Any prop eligible to play for Stevens.
Best for Hartley.
Lawes for Gray.
Hamilton for O'Connell.
Robshaw for Croft.
Beattie for Lydiate.
Morgan for Heaslip.

+2 Scotsman, +1 Englishman, -2 Irishman, -2 Welshman.

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Facepalm April 30, 2013 8:46 pm

After seeing a Gatland interview I really thought he would include Wade, shame. Whilst he doesn't deserve a spot it would have been amazing to see him out there.

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Ottawa Rugger May 01, 2013 3:42 am

I made reference to this above, but I think Wade was probably kept out at Lancaster's insistence. Lancaster probably wants him on the plane to Argentina. However, Lancaster was probably expecting more of his players to get selected for the Lions to give Wade that space. By selecting so many Welsh players, I think Gatland really threw a wrench in England's works. The Argentina tour was all about development as their stars were in Australia but with so few of their players in the Lions squad England doesn't really have that wiggle room

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DrG May 01, 2013 12:14 pm

Not sure why you would include Lawes over Gray... I don't think Gray had a great 6N and h had injuries, but I don't see what all the fuss about Lawes is, he's not shown anything special IMO...

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DanKnapp May 01, 2013 2:09 pm

Lawes loves to put the hurt on the small guys, but his tackling on other forwards is shocking at international level. He's always looking for the Hollywood smash, rather than just doing his damn job properly.

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Guest April 30, 2013 9:58 pm

Lions selection or Wales team? Warburton as Captain? Didn't perform at the six nations, lost his place to a much better Tipuric and yet Gatland chooses him as Captain! In my opinion, Warburton is hugely overrated, you really need a Captain who has been consitently outplayed by Pocock in every Austraila vs Wales Match.
Secondly there's hooker, Richard Hibbard did have a quality six nations but the omission of Best is mystifying! A stand out player for Ulster (top of the Rabo) and yet somehow Youngs, Hartely and Hibbard stand above him! Possibly omitted due to form then? Oh wait...no Lydiate is included. Also Robshaw's performances definitely due his inclusion.
At least the backs are all sound choices (sceptically over Farrel), but its the stronger pack that will win the tour. Gatland has just given Austraila a huge advantage by that selection in my opinion...

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Reality April 30, 2013 9:58 pm

I agree with most people here in saying that I'm rather disappointed by this selection. In fact, I'd go further and say that I'm absolutely dumbfounded by it. There are obviously plenty of players that essentially pick themselves and so deserve to be there, but there are so many calls that seem either like Welsh bias or simply stupidity.

Conor Murray, Mike Phillips and Sean Maitland simply don't deserve to be there. As an Irishman I'm happy that Murray is, because he's been super lately, but he hasn't proven himself, and nor has Maitland.

The forwards though; God! Gethins, Vunipola, Stevens, Hartley, Evans, Gray, Croft; why are they there? Gethins warms the bench for his club, Vunipola is a decent substitue but not a good starter, I don't think I even need to explain the problem with Stevens and Hartley, Evans and Gray are completely average even if Gray was great in the past, and Tom Croft? He's so impressive that I forgot he even existed. Where in God's name are Rory Best, any other props, Donncha Ryan/Launchbury, and any other backrow forward?

And Warburton as captain? The guy that most Welsh people think should be on the bench for Wales behind Tipuric? That's laughable.

My overriding impression is that this is a Welsh-heavy team, coached by the Welsh coach, with a Welsh captain who in general is considered undeserving to start for his national team, who led his Welsh team to a three-nil defeat at home in November to an Australian team in disarray. I think that's absolute madness.

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Facepalm April 30, 2013 10:07 pm

Out of interest, who would your captain be? My pick before the tour was Rory Best. I thought he was a definite starter for the tests. Performs every game for Ireland and seems to be someone others look to.

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matt May 01, 2013 12:10 am

But his lineouts are unreliable, and we aren't going to beat the Aussies with a running game, so we need to be sure of our own ball where we can in the pack.

I would've given it to POC, I hate him for being Irish, but he seems to rally anyone who is around him, and he typifies the gnarl and grind that will win us the series.

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bear April 30, 2013 10:26 pm

i am posotive if wade was from any sh nation he would have at least 10 tests under his belt ! they highlght his defence as a problem but here is a guy that even without seeing him at test level any educated rugby person can see is blessed and will and should already be known as one of the best finishers in the world , north is a talent but has his form of late been great ? also stevens inclusion is purely because in the modern game he is whilst not in any way at his former best he is one of very few compitent on both sides and that is why he's there

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Reality April 30, 2013 10:45 pm

I wouldn't go for Best, myself. I think he definitely deserves to start, and he's a leader for Ireland and Ulster, but I wouldn't say he'd be the best captain for The Lions. You need someone who's internationally respected and someone who would be at ease among so many players he doesn't know, and I don't think Best would be suited to that. He seems a bit shy, and doesn't have that aura of unquestionable authority about him that other quiet captains have.

I don't want to sound biased since I'm Irish, but I think O'Connell or BOD would have been perfect. Both great captain material, in my opinion two players who should definitely start, and two who are widely respected and know how to captain such a diverse group of players. O'Connell would have been a bit sudden, since he only came back recently, but I don't think anyone could question BOD as captain.

Anyway, Irish bias apart, who else is there? Robshaw isn't good enough, Heaslip in my opinion deserves to start but that is definitely not the general public opinion (although that didn't stop Gatland picking Warburton), and nobody else sticks out to me as a good leader.

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FatProp April 30, 2013 10:58 pm

I have said it before they should be potentially the best in their position and Adam Jones fits the bill no chance he wont play only problem is injury, so why not Sexton ? im just picking from players available otherwise it would be Wilkinson or Brown

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matt May 01, 2013 12:13 am

I don't think Sexton is nailed on to start, Gatland seems to have picked a conservative back set, and one that is probably better at tackling than running, which leads me to think that Farrells boot will be the weapon of choice.

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Reality April 30, 2013 11:12 pm

Oops, I meant to reply to Facepalm with that. Anyway, Brown? Is that Mike, or Kelly, because I don't think either are the best in their positions - far from it. I think though you're being a bit simplistic. A captain has to lead the team and talk to them and create a team spirit and do all sorts of other things. I don't think Jones or Sexton would be at all appropriate for the role, even if they're two of the few guaranteed starters.

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DrG April 30, 2013 11:24 pm

Definitely think the ball was dropped not picking Wilko, although I read somewhere Gatland had talked to him and he said he was completely committed to Toulon and wasn't 100% sure his body would hold out on the tour... But I'd pick him over Farrell, who I think is not quite there yet...

Paul O'Connell? Did this guy pull on an Irish shirt this 6N's? I don't remember personally... Good choice picking Gray I think.

Shame Visser missed out. Another Scot who I'd think would have missed out is I think a fly half who if I remember correctly broke his leg very recently..

Anyway early days, injuries can strike so who knows... Don't like the Dylan Fartley choice at hooker, guys a liability IMO, then again Best was no saint and his throwing was atrocious in the 6N...

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Pete April 30, 2013 11:26 pm

It seems like half the comments on here about Wilkinson seem to have come from people who didn't bother to read the text above the video - he ruled himself out, he wasn't "left behind"!

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DrG May 01, 2013 12:09 pm

That wasn't there when most people commented, hence the "has since revealed" is the key...

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DrG May 01, 2013 12:57 pm

Jumbled that up, but you get the drift...

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vannrugby May 01, 2013 12:02 am

And I guess 1.Robinson 2.Moore 3.Slipper 4.Simmons 5.Horwill 6.Higginbotham 7.Hooper 8.Palu 9.Genia 10.O'Connor 11.Ioane 12.Lealiifano 13.AAC 14.Folau 15.Mogg. If Deans comes to his mind 10.Cooper...

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Jon May 01, 2013 6:18 am

I think probably more like this :
1.Robinson 2.Polota-Nau 3. Alexander 4. Timani or Douglas 5. Horwill (captain) 6. Higginbotham 7. G.Smith 8. Palu 9. Genia 10. O'Connor 11. Ioane 12. Lealiifano 13. AAC 14. Tomane 15. Folau

Polota-Nau is more dynamic and gets more meters than Moore, but his line-out throwing is a concern.
Alexander is a slightly better scrummager than Slipper and that'll give him the edge even though Slipper is more dynamic in the loose.
Timani and Douglas are both favoured over Simmons, Dingo and the staff don't like Simmons' lack of physicality even though he's great in the line-out - although neither Timani or Douglas are the complete package yet either.
There's talk that Tomane is being lined up for a spot on the wing. I'd have Folau at fullback, he's looked awesome in the last few games. A rough diamond for sure, but just based on the fact that he beats his man one on one so often, he's gotta be in the side. He will surely tear holes in any defense.

But there's alot of debate, there's alot fringe players putting their hands up. Toomua and Cooper are both arguably good options at five-eight. It's hard to leave Mogg out, they he'd be a good bench option. Dennis and Mowen are pushing for that no.6 spot over Higginbothom. G.Smith should be seven in my opinion, but Deans may opt for youth in Hooper, or Gill. Dan Palmer is an option for his scrummmaging.
It's a good problem to have, but Deans is going to have to leave out some talented and in form players.

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LJNumber8 May 01, 2013 6:57 am

I think you are onto something. However Palu has never done enough IMO. Would you settle with Smith at 8 and Gill or, preferably, Hooper on the side?

Mogg or Folau is a great battle. Neither capped Wallaby in a pretty bloody critical position, especially if the Lions choose to kick.

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Jon May 01, 2013 9:01 am

Palu is there just because there isn't any great alternatives.
He beats other options because of his size, physicality and the front foot ball he provides. The other options are all mobile, athletic types - ie they're all as much no 6s as 8s - Higginbothom, Dennis, Mowen, Mccalman.
And there's enough of that already in the team. What we need, especially against what is shaping up as a big forward pack and a backline almost equally as big, is big strong ball runners to smash forward, get metres and quick ball, so we can unleash our backline.
That's why Deans picks Polota-Nau over Moore and Palu over the other options. That's also why he is thinking about including Auelua - the guy's not the most skillful or with the biggest engine, but he's a human wrecking ball, and we need a few of those just to get go forward.

Mogg and Folau is a tough one. Personally I would go for Folau - Mogg's a great and skillful player, but so's Folau, and Folau's a lot stronger and alot bigger. I'd have Mogg come off the bench later when the forwards are tired to try and carve them up.

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Ravens6 May 01, 2013 12:41 am

Well it came and went and we got what we expected, a Lion's squad to go to the southern hemisphere and get beaten by bad choices.
1, a poor captain and sub standard 7.
2, poor choices in the front row at hooker
3, poor choice with some of the rows in the engine room. Gray might be one of the tallest rows on the planet but the hookers that are throwing to him are questionable. Hartley will probably end up in the bin, as for the rest they couldn't hit the ground if they fell over.
It all looks like Gatland is taking the welsh lads on tour that got him the job with the grand slam.
Well roll on the summer and I hope to God I'm wrong!!!!

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Ravens6 May 27, 2013 1:57 pm

"Hartley will probably end up in the bin"
To be honest I had him at least making it to the plane. That said, I'm not a bad judge of character, He's a lout. A better man is now on the plane and he can be very good in the loose, and on a good day at the office hit a postage stamp on the tip of any rows fingers 15m away.

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LJNumber8 May 01, 2013 1:02 am

So when will they be playing the SANZAR Lions? In theory that should make it more fair.

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dave May 01, 2013 1:46 am

god, everyone knows the welsh are good but at the same rate they couldn't beat a dung beetle off a pile of shit in the southern hemisphere, and picking sam warbuton as captain was stupid, warbuton doesn't have a hint of success against the southern hemisphere, they should have chosen someone with experience and success like BOD or o'connel with the latter being a better pick, and wtf no Robshaw? This guy has played at the absolute highest level, hasn't taken a second off and still gets no recognition, this guy bested Mccaw in december, how many players in the NH have done that, not only should this guy be on tour he should be captain, this guy didn't have one individually bad game in the six nations and warbuton only starts to get it going for the scotland game and he's captain? and tipuric had one great game against england with the home crowd feeding the welsh, what makes you think he'll do it in australia, he hasn't proven himsef where as robshaw proved himself in south africa, obviously Gatland isn't a neutral coach, he's biased as fuck, you might as well expect an all welsh starting 15 and watch this series go to a whitewash and we'll be watching the carcass of a dead lion in the outback

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DanKnapp May 01, 2013 2:14 pm

"god, everyone knows the welsh are good but at the same rate they couldn't beat a dung beetle off a pile of shit in the southern hemisphere"

Best sentence I've read for a while.

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Jim May 01, 2013 2:47 am

wilkinson would be far better than farrell. but even still madigan is a better choice than farrell too. i like him as a player and his kicking is unreal but you dont need that with halfpenny in the side, and then the downside is he cant really get players over the gain line because he stands too deep. madigan has proved he can kick and anyone who says he isnt proven to be good at running the ball is insane. he's got all the talent and is clearly on form. i'd pick him ahead of farrell any day

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Jon May 01, 2013 6:06 am

matt I gotta disagree with you fundamentally.
The way that you can beat Australia is with a running game.

The thing that every SH team fears the most is a NH team that figures out how to run the ball.
Ten man rugby we can handle. We've been beating stodgy, predictable, forward focused NH teams for literally decades.

The team that is scary is a team like England from 2001 to 2003, precisely because they managed to combine their traditional forward focus with a dangerous backline.

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DrG May 01, 2013 1:06 pm

I'm still shocked at the inclusion of Hibbard, Hartley and Stevens...

I'm not really sure where Hibbard came from, he just appeared in the Welsh pack, I don't recall if he made big impacts? Maybe he did.

Hartley... Well, he certainly doesn't bring a wealth of brains to the party, anything special? Not 100% sure, maybe he was just consistent in doing a hookers job in the 6N..

Stevens... Pardon? Who? The guy has retired, is that a sort of sympathy inclusion... "Ah come on, he went a bit wild did some cocaine got banned and missed out on huge amounts of rugby, lets cut him a break and bring him along" I mean I'd have thought even Euan 'don't play on Sundays' Murray would be a better option than Matt 'don't play no more' Stevens... :/

Also where is Corbisiero these days? He missed out the 6N due to injury didn't he? Is he back yet? Again, I'd figure someone who is/was injured but still in the game would be a better option than a retiree.

Will be interesting to see which Welsh players Gatland actually omits on match day..seeing as he has pretty much a full Welsh team...

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matt May 01, 2013 7:43 pm

I wasnt paying enough attention, but in the build up to saracens HC semi final on sunday I heard them analysing Stevens, and someone said that he had recently been described by some front rower as 'one of the best scrummaging props in the world'.

As I said I didn't hear the full thing, but if I heard right then that is quite an accolade for someone, particularly a forward with the handling game that Stevens has.

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Juggernauter May 01, 2013 11:00 pm

Hartley's inclusion is a shocker, he'll end in the bin every time he hits the pitch.

Regarding Maitland, it's funny how this guy played for a number of years in an oustanding Crusaders team, was a key part of their crazy attacking moves and overall exellence, always excelled while playing in what was the best team in the world for about three years in a row, and yet never made it into the All Blacks. Then he went to Glasgow, played some average games for Scotland in the 6N (which I think is evidently the 2nd Tier of international rugby) and makes the bloody Lions. This either speaks very well of Maitland or very bad of Scotland and WG. We shall see and I seriosuly wish he becomes a revelation!

Can't wait for june.

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Valley boi May 02, 2013 9:20 am

After a bit of reflection, i cant help but feel that Warren Gatland is using the Lions for his own gain.

The reason i say this is because, even though he is coach of Wales, he has spent a long time away from the national setup. This gives him the opportunity to gel back with the Welsh team (he picked 15, only Dan Biggar missing out), Sam Warburton as captain, who he picked to captain Wales.

I think he is going to use this tour as a stepping stone and a way to get Welsh players more experience vs Southern Hemisphere. if successful with the lions, give Welsh players a confindence boost over Southern Hemisphere teams.

Some if his selections and omissions have been questioned, matt stephens, dylan hartley, rob kearney, no robshaw, rory best. After thinking about this in same reasoning, has he left good players at home and picked these players simply because he knows Welsh players can take their place... Richard hibbard, gethin jenkins, leigh halfpenny and room for Warnurton at 6?

I am Welsh btw.

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Leadbitter May 02, 2013 2:47 pm

Valley boi,

After some reflection, I tend to agree with you.
Perhaps the thinking is that if the Welsh side play Australia enough times, eventually they will start to learn to beat them and in time for the World Cup. My gut feeling is that the Gatland style of bish-bosh rugby was effective for a season (Grand Slam) against British sides, but never really worked that well against S.H sides at all.
2012 six nations and you see Ireland and England being a decision away from winning their games against a now predictable Wales - and that was new England year 1. Then more recently we have a 7 game losing streak, three against AUS, with Argentina and Samoa totally getting the better of them.
I thought the comment `sport is about the now' was by far the most intelligent observation. Wales have been selected because of the last 6 nations game against a frozen in the headlights England. A game where without Adam Jones, the result could have been entirely different. Wales are brilliant, England are shit, lets take Wales to Oz.
Clanger 1. Lack of speed in the second row - Launchberry or Lawes should have gone.
Clanger 2. Creativity in the centres - Twelvetrees or Jonathon Joseph should have gone.
Clanger 3. Fragile / out of form players - O'connell, Lydiate, Bowe, - Robshaw, Lawes, Wade should have gone

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DrG May 02, 2013 3:38 pm

As far as clanger 1 goes, Gray carries a lot of speed and definitely has a good carrying game (when on form). Lawes shows nothing IMO, he is tall, quite strong, but I see far more bodily strength in the likes of POC, and far more round the park stuff in Gray.

As far as the bish-bish rugby, I agree, I think Australia is adopting a lot of an absorption technique rather than a brick wall, with the likes of Pocock and his huge turnover rates (if picked etc) I think this bashing technique won't get them far.

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Leadbitter May 02, 2013 4:35 pm

Hi Dr G,

Certainly take on board your comments. Would it not of been nice to see what a Gray & Lawes / Gray and Launchberry combination would have been like?
Those two combined with Mako and Youngs in the front row, Warbuton, Tipiric and Croft (?) - now that would have been one hell of a quick pack, capable of playing the sort of game that would enable Sexton to find gaps to put Manu, North and Halfpenny through. More speed more gaps, simple.

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DrG May 02, 2013 8:09 pm

I have to admit, I have not really seen Lawes play at club level, and again I can't recall how many times I've seen him at international level, I believe in the games I've seen him in, he has "done his job"... But I don't recall seeing him do the "above and beyond" that perhaps should be the requirements of the Lions... So perhaps a lot of my opinion of Lawes is based on a distinct LACK of seeing him.

Of course all that being said, he's still better than me....

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Rob May 02, 2013 11:22 am

I am a pretty huge Scotland fan and was watching closely during the 6N for any potential lions as I wanted to see as many as possible. Although I was a bit disappointed with 3, the selection is done and it's time to get behind the team and remember that I am British aswell.

I think that anyone who has actually watched Scottish matches recently would agree that the criticism of Maitland on this site is a bit harsh. The media talked about Visser alot (fair enough, as he is one of the top try scorers of the league) but Maitland's name was rarely mentioned as a contender. I don't understand why: Glasgow are having a storming season in the Rabo league and he is a big factor in this, but he had a few brilliant matches in the 6N aswell. He might not be the most visible player but there were more than a few moments of try-saving defense. He was solid in attack and defense and if his critics would care to look on youtube they will find some of the sick rugby he has played in the Southern Hemisphere too.

I did not agree with all of Gatland's selection but his inclusion of Maitland shows me that he is not afraid to pick good players without the media hype surrounding them, and so I have faith in the team.

Stick it to the aussies!

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Cheis May 02, 2013 12:07 pm

Would prefer Visser to Maitland anyday

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Jon May 02, 2013 1:08 pm

As an Aussie I'd disagree with you.
Maitland is a very good player, he came close to playing for NZ.

Visser is a good player too, no doubt, but Maitland is excellent.

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coops May 03, 2013 12:41 am

Considering what Gatland said about selection - he'd base it on 6 nations performances and/or club form in games of a similar intensity - I find it hard to understand why Lydiate is going.

He's a great player when fit, but all he's managed are 4 dead rubber games for the Dragons. Robshaw, meanwhile, is fit and was one of the players of the Six Nations. And I don't buy into the argument of 'there are 3 better 7s" - one played his best game of the tournament at 6, one can't get into the international side at 7 when everyone is fit, and the other is no more of an open side than Robshaw! Form would point to the bloke who finished towards the top of all the charts relevant to flankers and who got man of the match in 3 of England's games. I think he's incredibly unlucky.

You can read my beer-related take on the Lions squad here:

www.ruckedover.blogspot.com



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Egglover May 03, 2013 8:57 am

Gatland's welsh boys getting a good run around before autumn internationals, nothing has been based on form, Warburton shite all year apart from a maybe 2 games in the 6N. Knowing Wales' record against SH teams, he's basically brought along some other HN players to help out his welsh boys get a win or 2 downunder.

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paul May 04, 2013 2:33 pm

well the aussies in disarray beat england

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dave May 08, 2013 6:13 am

I dont understand why tom wood isn't in the squad, to be honest I think wood is better than croft despite croft having more x factor, tom wood is the type of blindside flanker who will turn the ball over for you at a great rate (check out his man of the match performance against the all blacks) , regularly charge down kicks and will seemingly stop an opposition team in its tracts all by himself on defence, he basically wasn't brought on tour because he was playing out of position at 8, this guy is the best 6 in the nh imo, he brought it against all the sh hemisphere teams in the authumn and was a huge spark for england in how well he played against them.
I see a potential disadvantage at the lineout with both tipuric and warbuton being 6 foot 3? with an expected disadvantage against the wallaby lineout we could have used another tall blindside in wood to disrupt

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