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Player of 2014 Nominee, Willie Le Roux

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wallabies and British & Irish Lions teams named for first Test on Saturday

All the talk is over and we now know who will take part in the first of the three Test series between the British and Irish Lions and the Wallabies. Both sides have been announced, with few surprises but much to look forward to in Brisbane this Saturday.

Captain Sam Warburton leads a side with a great mix of experience and youth, as eight new Test caps will start, with Brian O'Driscoll and Mike Phillips leading from the back. Paul O'Connell, Jamie Heaslip, Tom Croft, Allun Wyn Jones and Adam Jones all played in South Africa in 2009. 

"After six matches we have arrived at the 1st Test and have selected our strongest possible side with only Jamie Roberts,Tommy Bowe and Manu Tuilagi unavailable for selection," said coach Warren Gatland ahead of the Suncorp Stadium clash.

"The Wallabies at home pose a huge challenge but the Test team contains 20 of the players that played against the Waratahs in what was our best match to date. We now have a couple of more days of match preparation to ensure we improve again on that performance."

The Wallabies have three new Test caps as cross-code star Israel Folau gets his first start, while Brumbies pair Ben Mowen and Christian Leali'ifano are rewarded for consistent performances.

Perhaps the most vital, and talked about component of the Wallaby side is the halfback combination, where James O'Connor and Will Genia reunite, adding to the two Tests they played there in 2011, which resulted in wins over the Barbarians and Wales.

Out wide Wallaby fans will be pleased with the inclusion of dangerous winger Digby Ioane, who has recovered from a knee operation in time for selection. Lock James Horwill, who himself has had injury troubles, will return to captain the side and lead a forward pack that features the likes of star youngster Michael Hooper.

With the brilliant David Pocock and George Smith unavailable due to injury, Hooper is the heir apparent, and with Liam Gill on the bench, the Wallabies have natural talent in abundance to call on, including the outstanding Kurtley Beale, as he makes the cut following some off field troubles.

The Wallabies - 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Leali’ifano, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson Reserves: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Pat McCabe, 22 Kurtley Beale

British and Irish Lions - 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4  Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero. Reserves: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Sean Maitland.

Time: 1:44
Credit: rugbymedia

Posted at 6:41 am | 51 comments

Posted in British & Irish Lions 2013

Viewing 51 comments

ktrain June 20, 2013 11:35 am

pretty much as expected. glad Youngs gets the start at hooker and that they didnt just go for Hibbard, Youngs has deserved it. Stong lions team, and what a battle North v Folau will be!

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DrG June 20, 2013 11:38 am

No Zebo, interesting :/

Yeh pretty much as expected as ktrain said. Looks like a fairly strong Lions team, not sure it will stand up to a strong Wallabies team, but time will tell...

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Sharkie June 20, 2013 11:50 am

Sean O'Brian is soooo unlucky he has been in amazing form recently and i hope he gets to play at one point during the tests

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mrjmmlc June 20, 2013 11:50 am

good team, but cant believe he left obrien out

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Springbok June 20, 2013 11:53 am

Selection is spot on for both sides. couple of bench options as mentioned are a bit scetchy with Zebo being the Pick.

As a South African I feel that they lions might sneak it on pure guts, determination and team work. These Lions boys are very passionate and most have this childhood dreams of becoming a Lion one day. Stayed together for weeks and more importantly played together recently.

The Australian team has got a lot of flair and if the game starts to get "loose" will definately score some cracking tries. But in camparison with teams like NZ, SA and LIONS I think they will lack that 200% passion and honour.

Yes the set piece will be a battle, and aggresive line speed will be the buzz word for both coaches. Aus can create something from nothing, but I think the character of this Lions team will be up for the Test and take it by 5...

Advice for Lions, KICK into SPACE or OUT otherwise these Aus boys will take you apart. Super rugby has got a "high ball culture" and Aussie players are good in the air...

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leinsterfan June 20, 2013 12:08 pm

Couldn't agree more mate,
Unfortunately, Gatland's teams always kick in field and I don't think we've kicked to touch once this tour. If Gatland's plan is to keep the ball alive and out run the Aussies he is a fool. This is exactly why Wales can't beat Auatralia but Scotland can. I am hoping the selection of jumpers from 4 to 8 shows Gatland is willing to kick to touch and win Australian line out ball.

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leinsterfan June 20, 2013 11:58 am

I'm surprised at the inclusion of Cuthbert and Maitland. Also, Corbisiero goes from not on the plane to starting loose head with, what, 50 minutes of rugby? And what does Tipuric have to do to get a game? Quite a lot of these positions, I'm thinking 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15 have clearly been sewn up weeks and weeks ago. Must be a kick in the guts to Gray, Hogg, O'Brien, Tipuric, Cole, Parling, Tualagi who must feel like they were never even considered. They've played fantastic, but the test side is as expected Gatland's favourites. Strong team no doubt, and maybe the continuity from 2009 will be key - here's hoping. Come on Lions!

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Cardiff Blues Fan June 20, 2013 12:23 pm

I was with you for a bit there, but Tualagi is injured, and Hogg's good but behind Halfpenny, so battling Zebo, Maitland etc for only a bench spot. Maitland may have ousted Zebo only to have a token Scot. Cuthbert never seems outstanding, but his minutes-per-try stat is phenomenal. Whatever you think of it, when Gatland's in doubt he picks a bruiser, and it's an instinct that usually serves him well. He explained why he picked Corbisiero, and if you don't agree that you need to start your best scrummager, can I suggest you re-watch the 1st Lions test of '09?

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leinsterfan June 21, 2013 12:44 pm

To be fair, there's a difference between the Boks scrum and the Wallabies. Also, weren't the starting props Jenkins and Vickery? I thought Mears was the issue. That's fine about Corbisiero but why then was he not taken in the first place? Cuthbert and Maitland for me have been error prone, I don't think we can afford errors. For me, given the injuries, I'd have Hogg instead of Cuthbert and Zebo instead of Maitland, O'Brien or Tipuric instead of Lidiate if we have to start Warburton. Still, I think the team is good enough as picked to win.

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yupyupgup June 21, 2013 2:06 pm

Corbisiero wasn't taken in the first place because Gatland though Jenkins would be fit for the first test! Jenkins can hold his own against any tighthead and is brilliant in the loose, he definitely would have had the no.1 jersey for the first test.

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dave June 22, 2013 2:04 am

corbisiero wasn't picked in the first place because he had knee surgery before the six nations ruling him out, corbisiero>jenkins in my xv anyday, jenkins doesn't have the resume of destroying all black,springbok and Irish packs, wales beat england in the scrum on grand slam day because england didn't have corbs imo, the year wales beat england at twickers the scrum battle between corbs and jones was even

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BenjaJ June 20, 2013 11:59 am

Gatland made a pretty decent team for this first test. Maitland can play winger or fullback, not Zebo (actually I'm not sure, but I've never seen him on fullback).
Tough decision for flanker replacement, with O'Brien and Faletau. There will be competition for these positions.

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rufio June 20, 2013 12:18 pm

Tipuric & O'Brien i think can feel hard done by. But no one can feel as hard done by as QUADE COOPER. Yes the guy has some issues and hes OBVIOUSLY rubbed Deans up the wrong way, but he is so unpredictable & has an eye for a gap/pass & that strikes fear into the teams that like to play an organised game (like the Lions & England).

I cant wait to see what Hooper plays like. I think he could be a real thorn in Wales, cough cough, the Lions side, just as Mowan can do.

All in all, i think Gatland has pretty much got it right with what he has available to him. I would PREFER to see Tuilagi or Roberts play alongside BOD, they would of kept O'Connor busy, but Davis is a good replacement!!

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matt June 21, 2013 12:29 am

I would love to have seen Cooper play in this series, it would have been bad for the lions, but he is one of the most exciting players in the world and for him to miss out is a shame.

However, that prat has no right to feel sorry for himself, if you open your mouth to the media and pointlessly criticise the national set up then you should consider yourself lucky to ever play again, never mind 9 months later.

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WelshOsprey June 20, 2013 12:21 pm

Faletau, Tipuric or O'Brien not even on the bench? What more could those guys have done?
Lydiate is just there to come on and make tackles near the end of the game... assuming we'll be ahead

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iluvyomumma June 20, 2013 1:14 pm

Surprised about people banging on about Faletau being unlucky. He's been terrible on this tour!!! Conceding turnover after turnover, he hasn't deserved a place. I think the side is pretty much spot on given the circumstances. Davies is obviously in due to injuries but to be fair to him he has played exceptionslly well on this tour and has made me rethink my oppinion if him. I would probably have had bowe over cuthbert but again, injury. The rest of the backs are fine.

As a scrum half, I wouldn't dare try and pretend I know what I'm talking about when it comes to the front row so ill leave that up to debate but Corbisiero isn't the first and won't be the last lion to start a test having not been in the original squad.
The rest is pretty much as expected I think. I still think Gatland shot himself in the foot by naming Warburton as his captain as the back row is such a hotly contested position that noone should have been guaranteed a start and as much as Gatland said anyone could be dropped and Sam was not guaranteed his spot, he was lying. Croft for me was a shoe in. He'd be in my world 23 if I picked one. Devastatingly quick, great in D and excellent in the line out.

Subs: I don't know how Lydiate has wormed his way in!!! Sean O'brien is unlucky but Gatland does have his favourites and Lydiate is one of them. Maitland as well I wouldn't have had but I can only assume its because he wants a Scot in the squad. Richie Gray can probably feel a bit hard done by not to be on the bench but such is life.

Anyway, long message so apologies but I think the lions will win the series. Also, whoever said Quade Cooper is the most unlucky to not be playing is so right. He is probably my favourite player in world rugby atm (thats coming from an Englishman!) was very pleased for the lions he wasnt involved. When the Aussies are down and need someone to ignite the game, they are going to regret not having cooper. He may be a risk sometimes but he'll create more than he gives away

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mr lif June 20, 2013 8:32 pm

The question is not, "Has Faletau played well?"

The question is, "Who has played better and done more for the team on tour so far? Who looks like they'll contribute the most: Heaslip or Faletau?"

Heaslip has been terrible, can't control the ball at the scrum, just hangs around out wide waiting for the other forwards to do all of the donkey work for him: he's a showpony.

Faletau does the hard work; that's why people want to see him in the side.

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mrjmmlc June 20, 2013 9:40 pm

mr lif disagree with you. think heaslip has played better, is a leader and the great tour he had 4 years ago for the lions can only play in his favour. as for the bench, there is obviously going to be a flanker. warburton can cover 8 and i would have obrien who could cover as well.

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UpTheLowEnd June 20, 2013 10:35 pm

Equally I think as good as Faletau was playing, there were a few too many spillings of the ball etc. against easy opponents that kept him out of the side.

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mrjmmlc June 20, 2013 9:37 pm

totally agree with you especially about the centers and jonathan davies! best surprise on the tour no doubt! only disagree about gray, he could never overtake parling. but lydiate instead of obrien is really unfair and is the only change i would actually do.(considering warburton is the captain). maitland is debatable but no one nailed that spot, could be him zebo or hogg

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matt June 21, 2013 12:33 am

I think Faletau has been a shambles, I was looking forward to being on a side with a dynamic no.8. But he's spent all tour running sideways and losing the ball, glad to see him left out. I think O'brien and Zebo should be on the bench, both have looked explosive and dangerous so far, which is far more than can be said for Lydiate and Maitland.

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AidanDev June 20, 2013 1:57 pm

zebo has played at fullback before for ireland against argentina and scored a try from there. hes a good utility player. very fast and always looking to run the ball

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Cian June 20, 2013 2:31 pm

Cuthbert is very lucky to get a spot. Defensively he gets caught out far to easily by players who use intelligence not just power to get by. Halfpenny to make more than one try saver in the corner.

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matt June 21, 2013 12:34 am

I expect Ioane to make him look like the shaved gorilla that I suspect he is

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Mastersa June 20, 2013 2:49 pm

Its a well balanced team with what is available. I can see the point of Corbisiero with the strong AUS front 3 and he still has the bench option of VP. Its the reserves selection that is dodgy. Maitland makes a little sense as a utility back over Zebo, but if he wanted the token Scot, I would have gone with Hog for both reasons. Still, I'd let him away with that. But Lydiate over Sean O'Brien? He is obviously selecting to a game plan rather than cover. O'Brien has played at 6,7 and 8 and pretty decent in all of those positions. I hope there is no early injuries or Gatlands plan may be caught out.
One has to say however, when it comes to dodgy selections Deans is king. The hatchet should have been buried with Cooper. Not to have him selected is criminal.

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matt June 21, 2013 12:35 am

Ha ha Aussies, criminal...

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Ando June 20, 2013 5:40 pm

Really pleased with the Wallabies line-up, that's a damn solid team!! Only slight question mark/possible weakness is O'Connor at 10, but Berrick Barnes is out there at 15 and can step in to the 10 slot if it all turns pear-shaped. Bring it on Lions!

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ruckinmaul June 20, 2013 6:17 pm

Barnes can only kick the ball. He can't run the backline as good as Cooper not even Bernard Foley. That's why he is not the first choice 10 at Waratahs. The only backline position I agree is AAC at ouside centre.
IMO, I go for Genia, Cooper/JOC(because the is no other good 10), Ioane, JOC/Lealiifano, AAC, Mitchell/Folau(no other choice), Beale.

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Ando June 20, 2013 11:19 pm

I disagree, I think Barnes is a balanced, level-headed and dependable 10, and not just a kicker. I concede he's not the electric runner with the ball that Cooper is, and doesn't have the what's-he-going-to-do-next attribute. I'd be curious to see what Australia's win % has been with Barnes at 10 versus others.

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ruckinmaul June 20, 2013 5:54 pm

I think, the Lions will win the series because Deans hasn't picked the right players at the right position. Barnes can't play fullback. They need someone who can counter attack at pace, Beale I reckon. Or JOC at fullback. oh wait, Deans can't play JOC at fullback, there is no other good flyhalf apart from him, no Quade Cooper.
My first choice backline will always be Genia, Cooper, Ioane, JOC, AAC, Mitchell, Beale. The combination that beat the mighty All Blacks during the Bledisloe 2010 in Hong Kong. JOC will replace Giteau at inside centre.

The Lions is pretty much expected, though I'm quite disappointed with the exclusion of Tipuric, O'Brien and Hogg. Halfpenny is a better player than Hogg due to his place kicking accuracy. Only that, no more. If he can't kick, Hogg will always be the first choice fullback.

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Juggernauter June 20, 2013 6:26 pm

Oh dear God, Warren, what else can Seán O'Brien do to get a spot! I mean, Lydiate? He's a good player but he fulfills the same job Joe Worsley had in his day: cut the opposition attacks with strong, ankle aimed tackles and prevent them of building momentum. That's a player for a game plan from minute 0, not a back up player like Seán, who also can play 6,7 or 8 at a high standard. He tackles as much as Lydiate but also has a storming presence with ball in hand.

I predict that Lealiifano, Mowen and Folau will be the standout players in this match for the Ws, and Halfpenny will be as busy as ever. Wallabies will win this match by no more than 3 points.

Let the games roll!!!

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Reality June 20, 2013 9:32 pm

Yeah, I don't get the Lydiate hype either. Even the tribute videos on youtube that show his best bits are just of him putting in fairly standard tackles that O'Brien, Ferris or any decent blindside would make. As you said, O'Brien offers so much more. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Gatland is biased towards Welsh players.

Another thing I don't get is Conor Murray not being on the bench. I've only seen a limited amount of the tour, but from what I understood he was in excellent form, more so than Ben Youngs. The only time I heard people complain about him was after the last match, but I think playing badly in a last desperate 20 mins when there's no gameplan and when your teammates are a bunch of headless chickens is normal.

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dave June 22, 2013 4:55 am

you're fooling yourself about conor murray
the only thing he's proven is that he's starting the game against the rebels
he can't play as well as mike phillips and he's not as versatile as ben youngs therefore you've got a bonafide midweek fixture scrumhalf

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Facepalm June 20, 2013 6:34 pm

I can't understand the Phillips appeal. Not the best kicking game and sloppy distribution. Will his size be useful against the likes of Hooper, Palu and Gill? Doubt it. Youngs hasn't been great in the warm up matches but his passing and kicking has been as sound as ever. A much more complete choice.

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dave June 22, 2013 4:57 am

I think what's stopping Ben Youngs from being the starting scrumhalf has been the fact he's playing behind a shitty scrum , Phillips has played behind a dominant pack in every game he's featured

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Droverboy June 20, 2013 6:54 pm

I can't believe you can say that lydiate "wormed his way in", Lydiate might not stand out wide and score tries (like Croft) but that's not what a six is supposed to do, a six should be slowing down the ball on the fringes and in the ruck, not standing by the touch line looking for glory. Lydiate may not do the pretty things, but watch wales v France 2013 to see what he can do.

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matt June 21, 2013 12:40 am

You've completely mixed up the defensive and offensive duties there, you don't slow the ball instead of carrying, you do both at different times of the game. Croft does all that slowing and disrupting work, except when he carries he does so more effectively than most 6s, and very often he does it down the middle of the pitch on a cut wide.

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DrG June 20, 2013 11:01 pm

Think I'd rather have SOB as number 8 actually...

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Facepalm June 22, 2013 12:27 am

I agree. Why not start O'Brien at 8 over Heaslip?

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ConorL June 21, 2013 12:03 am

Like most on here, I'm completely baffled by the inclusion of Lydiate. It just doesn't make any sense to me. The only reason I can come up with for his inclusion is that Gatland has opted for a VERY specific game plan. Lydiate is a tackling machine, so I have to assume the plan is to play a very tight, power game, have Halfpenny kick his goals, get their noses in front, and bring on Lydiate with 15 minutes to go to tackle anything that moves and close out the match.

But what happens if they are behind with 10/15 to go?? Lydiate is a great defender, but if they are chasing the game he's not the guy to turn to. He can't win a key turnover like Tipuric, or make a line break like SOB. Also, what happens if Heaslip or Warburton get injured? The fact that SOB can cover all three back row spots should have been enough to warrant a place on the bench.

Also, Zebo was obviously done in by the need to have a Scot somewhere in the squad. It's tough luck, but that's the way these things work. Sadly politics often has as much an influence on team selection as form or quality.

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matt June 21, 2013 12:42 am

That game plan doesnt make sense if you're going to pick Croft at 6 to start. He isn't the long hard graft style 6. If you're going to strangle an opponent and win penalties then you start with someone like Lydiate who makes the quick tackles that allow other forwards to get in and steal the ball or win penalties or SOB to carry hard.

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DrG June 21, 2013 1:08 am

If he "needed" to have a Scot in the squad, he should have axed Farrell and stuck in Hogg who is a better utility back...

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ConorL June 21, 2013 3:12 am

There's no way he could do that. Hogg is an exciting full back, but he is nowhere near ready to be dropped in at outhalf into the middle of a Test match against the 3rd best team in the world. If, god forbid, Sexton got injured, would you really be comfortable with a 20 year old full back with only one senior game at outhalf (in which he looked way out of his depth) coming on and trying to steer the team to victory against a quality side like Australia?

I'd have Hogg over Maitland as back three cover though, any day of the week.

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matt June 21, 2013 11:32 am

Farrel can play 12 as well which covers them against a centre injury, just.

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DrG June 21, 2013 11:38 am

@matt and conor..

I have more faith in Hogg than Farrell...

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dave June 22, 2013 5:04 am

ye I'm sure hogg can better farrell's firsthalf performance against the al blacks, a contribution that won them the game because the second half was even

Drg I have a suspicion that you are a scotland rugby/stuart hogg tip rider

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Reality June 22, 2013 11:13 am

I don't see why people are still talking about that England vs New Zealand match. The week before they lost to a pretty hapless South African team, and then even though the victory was impressive, it was against a team that had been sick all week. It's time to move on. Nearly a season has passed and things are different now. Farrell was also playing in the huge defeat against Wales in the Six Nations, and completely lost his head in the Heineken Cup match against Toulon, but I don't think those instances should be the be-all and end-all when assessing his talent.

I agree with you in saying that Farrell is a better outhalf than Hogg, no question, but that one victory needs to be put to rest.

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DrG June 22, 2013 11:30 am

That's the point, back when England beat NZ THAT game, Farrell was better than Hogg... NOW his form has slipped.

Do you really think Johnny Sexton from an Irish team that got bashed by everyone a short while ago is better than Farrell that beat the NZ team?? It works both ways. Farrell's form has slipped!

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Nate June 21, 2013 1:44 pm

Pretty much the expected lions team but I maybe would of had Zebo instead of Cuthbert.

Also, first time I looked at the full fixtures list and the lions played the force and will play the rebels. Does that make them the empire?

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ruckinmaul June 21, 2013 2:16 pm

Star Wars? haha.

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ConnachtMan June 21, 2013 3:28 pm

I think SO'B is being rested for 2nd test, Lydiate is tough and lets see how he gets in the Aussies faces. Heaslip hasnt impressed me that much he needs A BIG GAME as far as I can see. My big worry is front row, just does not seem that solid....I like Philips fo rquick ball, Sexton is dynamic and will pose problems, Should be a great series!!!

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