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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Shane Williams and Christian Wade called up and on the wings vs the Brumbies

The shock news today is that Welsh Wizard Shane Williams has been called up to do a job for the Lions against the Brumbies on Tuesday. The other big news is that gasman and fan favourite Christan Wade will join him, with Brad Barrit flying in too.

London Waps' joint top try scorer Christan Wade will join up with the Lions squad on Monday. He was due to play in England's second Test against Argentina, but will instead wear red against the Brumbies, a move that will excite many fans that thought he should have been in the initial squad.

The other huge news of the day is that former Lions winger and Welsh legend Shane Williams has been called up to play on the other wing. The 36-year-old is currently playing rugby in Japan so has been keeping fit, including doing a bit of boxing for a charity event in Dubai recently.

He was going to be in Australia anyway, as a radio pundit, but his position with the Lions is understood to be only temporary, mainly based on the ease of bringing him in on short notice.

"We told him we needed him for one game – he was already halfway here and part of the reasoning behind that is that he is still playing and thinking about the travel of getting players here," said Warren Gatland, who is having to juggle his resources carefully in the lead up to the first Test.

The Lions injury toll has mounted and there are concerns over the fitness of stars George North and centre Jamie Roberts, the latter having limped off against the Waratahs. Manu Tuilagi still has a sore shoulder and Brian O'Driscoll's battered body needs to be looked after.

Wade and Williams will be alongside England centres Brad Barritt and Billy Twelvetrees, who were also called into the squad within the last few days. Rob Kearney gets his first start, while Scotland's Stuart Hogg will start at flyhalf again. Rory Best, also a late inclusion on tour, will captain the side.

Below is a quick wrap-up of the reaction to the Williams selection, including Twelvetrees, Hogg and Ben Youngs giving their thoughts. What do you think of Williams and Wade's inclusions?

British and Irish Lions team: Rob Kearney, Christian Wade, Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Shane Williams, Stuart Hogg, Ben Youngs; Ryan Grant, Rory Best (captain), Matt Stevens, Ian Evans, Richie Gray, Sean O'Brien, Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Simon Zebo

Brumbies team: Ruan Smith, Siliva Siliva, Scott Sio, Leon Power, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Colby Faingaa, Peter Kimlin (c), Ian Prior, Matt Toomua, Clyde Rathbone, Andrew Smith, Tevita Kuridrani, Henry Speight, Jesse Mogg,
Replacements: Josh Mann-Rea, Jean-Pierre Smith, Chris Cocca, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jordan Smiler, Mark Swanepoel, Robbie Coleman, Zack Holmes

Time: 1:34
Credit: rugbymedia

Posted at 7:24 am | 46 comments

Posted in British & Irish Lions 2013

Viewing 46 comments

Facepalm June 16, 2013 12:39 pm

Absolutely magic.

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DrG June 16, 2013 1:02 pm

...this really makes me think of that Captain Picard facepalm picture.... Especially when you take into account Brad Barritt has been drafted in...

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DrG June 16, 2013 3:43 pm

With regards to the video though. I am sure the players will be happy to have him along.
Just having the option of playing along side a rugby great would give anyone a feeling of awe, but to do it in a Lions shirt would be great.

I do however feel a sense of disappointment towards Gatland... Comments have come about such as "well he is in Australia anyway"... That just makes it sound lazy, like "well he was a pretty good player in his prime, he's here already, f**k it, give him a shirt"... On a lesser scale it's been like that when I have in the past returned from Uni during a weekend or a holiday, "Ah he's here, he's probably got some mouldy kit in his car, chuck him a shirt and he can have a run out for us"... It just sounds very lackadaisical.

There was also comments about how easy it would be just to field SW rather than fly over another player. Like HSBC couldn't afford another seat on a flight?? And to bring over players or to draft in SW with the knowledge that it is for ONE game alone just makes me think it's all a piss take, lack of seriousness, and lack of intent.

For me "bringing the game into disrepute" is a term which has been used to comment on bad players behaviour in the past. This decision (not so much Wade as I believe he could be a genuine cover for the SERIES) but SW, has imo put Gatland in a position of "Bringing the Lions into disrepute". I think there are far more deserving players who might ACTUALLY offer up a chance to roll into a sub position for the big games, and Gatland has just turned his back on them.

Or perhaps I'm reading too much into it...

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Guest June 16, 2013 1:43 pm

Can't wait to watch Williams and wade playing together. It should result in some magical attacking play but I can't help but wonder what this will do to the lions defence.

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getitout June 16, 2013 1:53 pm

Wade, yes, Williams, yes, Barritt, no

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DanKnapp June 16, 2013 2:04 pm

Ah, Barritt is solid enough. He's good defensively, definitely no slouch. He'll shore up the midweek team nicely if needed - which is what he's there for.

Wade was on my original team sheet, so delighted to see he's going to make an appearance, and happy to see Shane Williams there for a brief cameo.

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Steve June 16, 2013 2:03 pm

What an unfair decision. Shane has a had a marvellous career but that career has come to an end, as he no longer plays top flight rugby.
He should have refused to come much like Johnny Wilkinson did , and instead players like tim visser and sean lamont should have been called up.
Awful decision from Gatland.
Puts even more onus on the lions winning this series, if they want to retain any credibility whatsoever

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Reality June 16, 2013 3:27 pm

Yeah, Gatland's Welsh bias has become even more evident. Like you said, there are loads of players that have their careers ahead of them that could have been called up, but instead he went for his old pal Shane who's already retired from top flight rugby. Maybe he could bring in Rob Howley to play at scrumhalf in the first test?

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brawnybalboa June 16, 2013 7:40 pm

Shane Williams's selection is based on jetlag, not on bias. Gatland himself said he needed players who could get to Australia fast and not be lost for a day due to jet lag.

If there was true Welsh bias we would have seen Biggar, James Hook & Lee Byrne called up.

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Reality June 16, 2013 10:19 pm

Well what about Wade and Barritt, then? If he was going to pick them then he obviously could have picked another person who isn't in Australia and who hasn't retired from top-flight rugby. As someone mentioned in a post, what about Ian Madigan? He was in North America just like Brad Barritt. And it's not like the backline is completely crippled by injuries. There are a few, but there are still plenty of players to fill the team. It's insulting to the people who are on tour.

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getitout June 16, 2013 3:51 pm

To be fair to Gatland, he has made it clear this is for one game, and then Williams will be going back to Japan.. Definitely cant argue with you on the credibility front, but that aside I think it would also be unfair on Visser/Lamont to pull them from their tournament in SA to play one game as realistically they wouldnt be involved in the tests. Maybe they would think differently though.

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DrG June 17, 2013 12:08 pm

Yes this is true, for one match only I could be harsh, but then again someone said this below:
"what happens if in the next game North gets a more serious injury? Do you draft in Williams again, or do you fly out Visser or Varndell for the rest of the series, in which case all you've done is wasted time that could have been spent gelling with the squad or acclimatizing."
Unless Gatland already has a permanent North replacement, but he just doesn't want to use him for a Brumbies match...

I just think it's risky to draft in a player for one match when it might turn out that another player could need that 1 match warm up...

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themull June 16, 2013 2:33 pm

Really just seems like Gatland got in all these extras just to play this one match to avoid some injuries so close to the test matches...The lions credability took a huge blow imo with these guys being drafted in...

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DrG June 16, 2013 3:27 pm

This is how I feel, especially when you consider comments about "weak sides" being fielded against the Lions and how it could be considered an insult etc..

I mean why not just make the Lions squad a 60 man squad, have 30 guys that fancy a "tour" and a laugh to play all the midweek club matches, whilst your star squad just train the entire time..

Disappointing really...

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brawnybalboa June 16, 2013 7:43 pm

"I mean why not just make the Lions squad a 60 man squad, have 30 guys that fancy a "tour" and a laugh to play all the midweek club matches"

Didn't Sir Clive Woodward do that? Bring 40 odd players so he could run a World Cup Winners reunion alongside a Lions tour?

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DrG June 16, 2013 8:49 pm

No idea, don't particularly follow the Lions :D

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Oliver June 16, 2013 3:16 pm

I think its great that Gatland is willing to bring in such exciting players. He is a truly great manager if he is willing to try something new, and we get to see two of the most exciting wingers in the world play on tuesday. Good on ya Warren, you are a visionary!

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Steve June 16, 2013 3:42 pm

You say that Gatland is trying something new, in what way is calling up Williams new ? Agreed he WAS an exciting player, but whats the point of calling him up considering that he wont be starting against Australia ?
Surely its better to give some young players some experience of the lions, than someone who has done it all before ?

Do you want the lions to be taken seriously, or do you just want them to be some sprt of joke side ?

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Oliver June 16, 2013 3:57 pm

I hear what you say Steve, but a huge part of winning comes from trying new things and also focusing on the positive rather than the negative. You should try both, you might feel happier.

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Steve June 16, 2013 5:00 pm

Oliver, its not trying new things, and there isnt a positive...

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DrG June 16, 2013 6:20 pm

Sorry Oliver but I'm with Steve on this one. Whilst it is important to the Lions to win EVERY game they're faced with, the game against the Brumbies is in some ways (I feel bad for saying this) a "non important" game. Of course it IS important for morale, practice, bragging rights, but no one will care too much about a Lions team that beats the Brumbies but loses all 3 test matches... So to bring in a "random" player just to win a match which doesn't have any bearing on the Lions series success, seems to send a message of disrespect.

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keithrjones June 16, 2013 5:10 pm

If half of the Oz franchises can play second strings against the Lions, then why not play them at their game and bring in SW. It's not Gats that is demeaning the tour.

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vannrugby June 16, 2013 5:25 pm

Knowing that they play without their international players, the Reds, the Waratahs and Brumbies have not fielded a B side. The Reds gave them some sweats, the Tahs were not that bad especially in 1rst half and I bet the Brumbies will be a decent opposition. Ok, the Force and Combined country were not much more than a training match.

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Brick Shithouse June 16, 2013 5:51 pm

How have they called in twelvetrees and barritt and not Ian Madigan, considering Gatland mentioned him as someone who unlucky to miss out initially. I really am baffled

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Ottawa Rugger June 16, 2013 5:55 pm

Good point. Barritt was in North America on vacation, Madigan was in North America playing (and judging by what I saw in Canada v Ireland last night, playing well). They would both be subject to the same travel issues, but Madigan would have the advatage of being game fit. But then again Gatland called up Shane Williams so maybe he's not so concerned about that...

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dave June 17, 2013 12:07 am

twelvetrees >madigan
I can understand having a problem with Barritt but Twelvetrees brings something different to this team in the centres, almost all the lions centres are crashbang players and the only one that isn't is O Driscoll, but we now have a ball playing 12 which is key if you want an expansive attacking style of rugby, like come on, be excited, this guy is supposed to play 12, look at his name!

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Ottawa Rugger June 16, 2013 5:51 pm

So at first glance I can buy the reasoning that Williams would be called in given he's already in Australia, so you don't have to worry about jet lag or acclimatization. Maybe I can see that being an advantage over Tim Visser, Tom Varndell, or others. But if that's true, why are there also players flying in for the same call-up? Furthermore, why bother calling up a player for just one match? If Williams is coverage for just one day as someone like George North gets over a slight injury, what happens if in the next game North gets a more serious injury? Do you draft in Williams again, or do you fly out Visser or Varndell for the rest of the series, in which case all you've done is wasted time that could have been spent gelling with the squad or acclimatizing.

All in all, I'd say I'm excited about the prospect of seeing the Lions squad with these changes. But I do think it says something about the management of the squad. Maybe a deeper backline should have been brought (two fly-halves?), maybe Gatland should have rotated his players better to avoid players doubling up in the midweek games and the weekend games.

But I was previously worried for the Wallabies since they were going to miss Higginbotham, Polota-Nau, etc. and had their own selection problems. But I think the Lions are in it deeper now

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DrG June 16, 2013 6:25 pm

"what happens if in the next game North gets a more serious injury? Do you draft in Williams again, or do you fly out Visser or Varndell for the rest of the series, in which case all you've done is wasted time that could have been spent gelling with the squad or acclimatizing."

That was definitely my thoughts on the matter, it's a pointless call...

Ah wait, we had about 4-5 fair well Shane Wales matches, another couple fair well Shane club matches... Could this be the beginnings of a fair well Shane Lions series?

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brawnybalboa June 17, 2013 12:14 pm

It is not a forgone conclusion that Gatland will call up another winger if one goes down injured. Both Hogg & Halfpenny are international class wingers. Kearney is finally healthy, so for the back 3 we now have Hogg, Halfpenny, Kearney, Maitland, Cuthbert, Wade & Williams healthy, with North & Bowe to come back by the second test.

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mise June 16, 2013 6:02 pm

I know this is a comment stream on SW but as the post also lists the Lions team, I think a far bigger issue is that it now looks like Sean O'Brien and Justin Tipuric won't start in the opening test. Yes Croft and to an extent Warburton played well in the last match, but SOB & JT were impervious. real pity that.

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DrG June 16, 2013 6:30 pm

I don't understand how anyone could pick Warburton & Croft over SOB & Tipuric...

I thought C&W played well last match but there was a handoff on Croft by a back which really stuck in my mind where I know T or SOB would have flattened the guy, and as for Warbs, he just comes across as getting favouritism from Gats, great player but I'd pick others based on recent form.

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UpTheLowEnd June 16, 2013 8:00 pm

Funnily enough its because you can't pick players on their form in a match vs combined country or the western force. Puerile speculations like "where I know T or SOB would have flattened the guy" are beyond pointless. For one, that most definitely isn't the case, Tips isn't an especially big guy and gets shoved back occasionally and tackled more often than not when someone gets their hand on him... thats not to say that this detracts from him as a player by any means, same as Croft. Its Crofts skill as an all round 6 thats gets him the nod over O'Brien, not just an ability to break tackles. As for Warburton, i'd choose Tips over him personally, but thats not to say he doesnt have the potential to have just as good a game. So IMO its potentially the right call going with those two, don't forget, ability to lead from the front is one of Warburton's great assets. I think people were nailing O'Brien and Tipuric down from their 'amazing' performances against sub-par sides (not to say that i don't rate them, because I really do.)

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DrG June 16, 2013 8:57 pm

Well I wasn't talking about breaking tackles now was I.... ;)

But what you're saying is that Gatland has already made his mind up then, or already made it up well before the tour of who the test match players are?

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UpTheLowEnd June 16, 2013 9:19 pm

Let's be honest he must have had a fair idea who he wanted it to be pre-selection, thats a given, and I whole heartedly believe that he knows who he wants for the first team at least, and his selection for the Brumbies game is a reflection of that.

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Jimothy June 16, 2013 10:44 pm

The hand off I think you are referring to was actually on Warburton with that first amazing individual try. Sorry but I'm a Tigers fan and won't have them being blamed for something they didn't do :)

IMO 6 Croft 7 Tipuric 8 Heaslip. When was the last time you saw SOB run in a 60m try? He is a great player but I think Croft's other skills (not just smashing into people really hard) are what make him stand out as an all round 6.

That said SOB and Tipuric and Heaslip were awesome together.

How's this for a plan... Croft starts and runs the Auzzie's ragged for 60minutes along with Roberts in the centres alongside BOD. Then you bring on two very pumped players in SOB (6) and Manu (12)... ouch :)

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PaddyD June 17, 2013 3:57 am

Think Croft will have to start, great around the park but also another line out option which will be key.
However can't see Tipuric getting the call over Warburton, I know its your opinion but Warburton to start at 7, he is the captain. Tipuric might not even get the bench spot I feel, I think SOB will get it based on the fact he can plan in all 3 potions in the back row.

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Jimothy June 17, 2013 5:47 pm

Good point, well made :)

It's a real shame that Tips might not see a test shirt as he's outperformed Warbs all season in the Rabo.

It was always going to be a problem when Gatland insisted on picking his captain from the most competitive position on the field. IMO every back row player in the Lions squad is worthy of a starting shirt!

He might have been better selecting someone like Sexton, O'Connell or O'Driscoll or even Half Penny who I think are perhaps the only player to be a sure thing!

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TMC June 16, 2013 8:27 pm

That starting back row really looks like a fight for a starting place or a spot on the bench for the test match, will be interesting to see how it goes!!! Really don't know who will be picked, would like to see O'Brien but I'm Irish so a little bias!!

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denzil loves bacon June 16, 2013 9:52 pm

Really?

There's no one else available to play on the wing in a midweek game who isn't already part of the tour party?

If I was an eligible player already on tour, I would be pretty hacked off.

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Chris Ashton is shit June 16, 2013 11:39 pm

I think that the lions is all about entertaining rugby and the wingers should provide that. I would prefer that brought in Shane rather than injure so one already on the tour is over played. Defence may be an issue with the brumbies wingers playing aswell as they are.

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mrjmmlc June 17, 2013 12:02 am

i thought obrien was a definit starter. but cant really argue about croft starting.. he s great all round and line out player. warburton is captain and played well so is definetly starting. heaslip as well. i guess now tipuric and obrien will dispute test bench. about parling, always thought he would be in the test, but now dont know if he is being rested or out for gray. he s also giving a chance to hogg to play himself into a test bench

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UpTheLowEnd June 17, 2013 11:54 am

I suspect the two locks starting against the brumbies (Gray and Evans) wont see even the test bench, not for the first match anyway. My thoughts are that Wyn-Jones and O'Connell will start with Parling on the bench (Which would be why he's on the bench for the brumbies. If he doesnt come on during that match then i'd say hes a pretty assured bet for the bench during the first test)

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mise June 17, 2013 12:48 am

Tipuric and SOB don't just have form in pointless recent matches, they have it for most of the last 2-3 years too: and more than Heaslip, Croft or Warburton actually. Heaslip and W have had well dodgy longish spells recently too (not just injuries, actual dodgy spells)

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Canadian content June 17, 2013 3:54 am

On one hand, I get it, I travelled to Oz twice from Canada and the jet lag is brutal. On the other hand... isn't visser already in SA, didn't Wade just travel from Arg? I'd rather have a test threat show up, the wing spots are far from decided.

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stroudos June 18, 2013 7:59 am

Excellent news. Will Ickle Shane now get ANOTHER farewell celebration match?

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DrG June 18, 2013 11:54 am

yeh, heard everyone will be wearing the 11 shirt...

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