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Thursday Apr 20, 2017

Brian O'Driscoll and Ben Kay react to 2017 British and Irish Lions squad

Brian O'Driscoll and Ben Kay react to 2017 British and Irish Lions squad
22
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There has been plenty of reaction from Lions fans and opponents alike on the squad selected by head coach Warren Gatland on Wednesday. Whether for good or for bad, it has generated a debate that will rage on until the first game of the 10-match tour down under.

BT Sport’s Lions veterans Ben Kay and Brian O’Driscoll provided an ex-player’s perspective on the wider squad, and discussed some of the notable inclusions and omissions.

Much of the discussion has focused on England captain Dylan Hartley, who was overlooked in favour of his understudy Jamie George. The Saracens hooker joins Welshman Ken Owens and Ireland captain Rory Best on tour.

There was also some discontent among Scotland fans after another low contingent was selected. Flanker Hamish Watson, who showed so well in the 6 Nations was the notable exclusion as was fly-half Finn Russell who had been tipped by many to be a wildcard inclusion.

The latter’s position went to Dan Biggar who Gatland knows well from the Wales setup. In fact, despite finishing 5th in the 6 Nations, Gatland decided to stick to familiarity by picking 12 Welsh players, only four short of the largest contingent England.

Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw was rewarded for his stand-out season last year with a debut Lions tour while centre counterpart Gary Ringrose was unfortunate to miss out. Lions stalwart Jamie Roberts also missed the cut while England’s Jonathan Joseph will travel to New Zealand despite rumours suggesting he too would miss out.

While Gatland’s 41-man squad is the largest since Clive Woodward’s from 2005 (also in New Zealand), there will still be opportunities for those who didn’t make the cut to come in as injury cover on what is sure to be another brutal Lions tour.

22 Comments

  • drg
    2:33 PM 27/04/2017

    I'm actually with IM regarding the eligibility issue of say Riki Flutely and playing for country is an honour... That is where the current sport has gone beyond the level of a sport and representing your country to a business where winning is a must... I mean if someone came knocking on my door saying "look, you're not good enough to play for your country, but move to Pakistan and you can represent them in rugby... I'd decline... but why? It gives me the chance to play international rugby doesn't it? Granted I know that generally some of the players have some sort of tie to a country (grandparents or otherwise) but it's still a little bit businessy now for my liking..

    Reply
  • drg
    2:28 PM 27/04/2017

    You know Gatland is going to go for some mix it up combo of AWJ and Warburton or something outrageous like that...

    Reply
  • im1
    11:15 AM 26/04/2017

    it would almost seem logical to try and pick he best partnerships from the 6Ns/Champions cup and mould that into a coherent XV... Obviously shouldn't try and force anything but not a bad place to start to see if they work

    Reply
  • fitz
    10:36 AM 26/04/2017

    I agree, why break up a partnership as good as Kruis/Itoje? Similarly, Murray/Sexton should be the halfbacks. As he's been injured for a while, I wasn't sure how good Kruis would be right now. Seems he's back on top form.

    Reply
  • im1
    1:38 PM 25/04/2017

    that's a fair point, but people will argue that citizenship is not enough to allow you to play for any country you want and that is a valid argument. IMO - Playing international sport is an honour so you should not be able to choose freely who you play for. Determining what 'freely' means is tough though. I'd say the Vunipola brothers did not freely move to England, whereas Payne freely moved to Ireland. But if you take the case of Kevin Pietersen in cricket, did he move to England voluntarily or did he move because he would have be racial discriminated against in a system backing quotas. I'd say its too difficult to set rules to and that there are few enough cases at international level rugby, that eligibility could be determined on a case by case basis with guidelines to follow. The current rules should be a minimum requirement. The one case that needs to be avoided again is Riki Flutely. NZ Maori Caps, England Caps, a Lion Cap and now he has bggerd off back to NZ. So in the Payne case, if he stays in Ireland for the rest of his life, then fair enough, but under the current rules there is the risk he will just go back "home" wherever that may be.

    Reply
  • im1
    12:11 PM 25/04/2017

    I'm moaning about articles that are written about the eligibility of players, but do not suggest any alternatives. Everyone knows that the current rules result in players moving at a late stage (relatively) in their lives to qualify on residency for another country and that a primary motive for this is money. So its a pointless article. My point on the non-NZ born players in the Kiwi squad was not that I think they should not be able to player for NZ, but just highlighting that every squad, even the mighty all blacks benefits from the way the rules are written. Because an easy way of fixing the problem the author highlights is by only allowing players to play for their country of birth, regardless of parentage/residency. That is obviously ridiculous but it does solve the authors problem. Yet he doesn't suggest any ideas to solve the problem that he has an issue with. Considering he gets paid to write about rugby, its just lazy.

    Reply
  • im1
    8:58 AM 25/04/2017

    so will gatland go for a Kruis/Itoje 2nd row partnership. Seems a bit of a no-brainer

    Reply
  • aotea
    11:20 PM 24/04/2017

    im1 it seems you are the one moaning as I have not seen any other comments referring to eligibility due to players place of birth - your argument is an oxymoron due to the fact that the boys not born in nz are still kiwis due to their parents being maori/kiwi and still growing up in nz or their parents/grandparents emigrated to nz or otherwise grew up in nz. The poaching of an adult nz rugby player to play in your national squad completely different but then the NH lot always moaned about kiwi poly players not being kiwi enough yet the RU are quite happy to change the rules so that you can continue poaching adult nz players!!! hypocrites - do as I say not as I do - good mantra eh?

    Reply
  • drg
    6:30 PM 24/04/2017

    Thanks for educating me guys. Apologies for bashing Kruis.

    Reply
  • ruckinmaul
    5:05 PM 24/04/2017

    as for me, the most surprise inclusion will definitely be Dan Biggar

    Reply
  • ruckinmaul
    4:51 PM 24/04/2017

    I rate him as the second best lock in Europe, just behind the ever impressive Itoje. He is extremely solid in the scrum and a menace at the lineout. One of the most important person in the Saracens set up.

    Reply
  • dancarter
    7:47 PM 23/04/2017

    Any dig against Healey is a good dig.

    Reply
  • dancarter
    7:47 PM 23/04/2017

    Jim Hamilton rates Kruis more than Itoje, which says a lot, I think.

    Reply
  • hoot
    7:52 PM 22/04/2017

    I enjoyed BOD's little dig against Healey. :-)

    Reply
  • im1
    2:05 PM 22/04/2017

    I'm not an expert of the second row but Eddie Jones says he's the scrummaging lock in Europe and everyone always goes on about how good his lineout work is. He carries and tackles and gets round the park and has been a key part of a pretty good sarries team. Given the lions set piece is going to have to be absolutely spot on if he is as good as he is meant to be i.e. Best set piece 2nd row in Europe it would be daft not taking him. Picking kruis would allow a heavy leaning sarries scrum and set peice bolstered by the two Irish props stander and warburton so gatland has a very well drilled unit available to him which he can add to and improve Let's see how he gets on today!

    Reply
  • drg
    8:44 AM 22/04/2017

    What about to fans in general, do you rate him? I may have to retract the part on Kruis...

    Reply
  • im1
    7:30 AM 22/04/2017

    Kruis is an 11/10 according to those who coach him.

    Reply
  • drg
    3:02 PM 21/04/2017

    One aspect of picking players I really don't understand which keeps getting mentioned is "midweek players"..... Why would you pick a team with midweek players in mind as well? A lot of people have voiced their issues with the teams picked etc, perhaps Kay and Drico have made a fair point regarding selections, especially in the forwards... and with Launchbury not being included, who would you remove from the 2nd row to accommodate him? Or would you just add him in as well..? .. for me, I'm not convinced with AWJ, Kruis and Lawes... I think Lawes is a decent player, but seeing Itoje rip the park up was impressive... Kruis, maybe I was harsh here, but I don't see an awful lot of him playing generally, so maybe more my fault.. AWJ, great work horse, but nothing that J Gray couldn't have filled with work rate, and good leader? So is J Gray... But to get back on point, I don't believe that some of the players picked are 10 out 10.... but some of the players omitted are 10 out of 10... so if for instance, Henderson, or Kruis or whatever, were picked because of midweek teams... then why??? Especially when you could argue Launchbury player 10 out of 10 could just be picked for midweek AND if you need a decent player to step up to test matches then he can do that too.... Te'o might be a good example of this.... why pick a really green player with the mind of "well he can fit in the midweek game" when you could perhaps pick some sublime players instead and then just have a headache deciding whether they play weekend, or midweek...

    Reply
  • drg
    2:49 PM 21/04/2017

    He did play for the U21's though... Also he lived there until 2011.... so he's not like he was just born somewhere different... but anyway.. his choices..

    Reply
  • im1
    2:45 PM 21/04/2017

    there are about 7 non-NZ born players in the Kiwi squad The rules are the rules. Options are; 1. Get over it and accept them 2. Suggest valid alternatives that consider the position of players born in once country but moved at somepoint during their life, whether it be at 1 or 25, and also considers palyer whose parents are from one country but was born in another 3. stfu and stop complaining about it if you haven't got anythign useful to say, because its boring to go on and on oldflyhalf - not saying you are complaining by posting the link in case you are not.

    Reply
  • albertabound
    2:36 PM 21/04/2017

    What really is citizenship though? I know someone who was born in Canada to Irish parents, lived in Canada for 11 years, England for 7 and Ireland for the the rest. So who would they play for? I think the point is that you are free to choose where your allegiance lies. Payne never played for the NZ national team so it's a non-issue.

    Reply
  • oldflyhalf
    11:16 AM 21/04/2017

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/rugby/news/article.cfm?c_id=80&objectid=11842792

    Reply


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