Just a light hearted view of what one might expect the British & Irish Lions touring team of Australia might look like this year.
Let’s begin with the captain – Surely Gatland has the opportunity here to pay homage to one of the greatest players the game has known in recent times. I am referring to Brian O’Driscoll of course. The problem is that he isn’t guaranteed a starting position in the test team, ( though he is a big game player). So Gatlan announces that he is going to appoint a TOUR captain and gives the inspirational O’driscoll the job.
There WERE calls for the English captain Chris Robshaw to become the Lions captain – calls that became rather less vociferous following the annihilation of England by Wales in Cardiff at the end of the 6 nations tournament.
By the same token that O’Driscoll isn’t guaranteed his position in the test team, Robshaw wouldn’t get in the Welsh team in his chosen position of open-side flanker, let alone lead the lions from that spot – and he doesn’t have the pedigree or charisma to be considered as a tour captain, so lets forget all that nonsense about him.
Robshaw is, however a good enough player to go on the tour as a back row player, but if he insisted on being considered for the No 7 berth then he isn’t gonna have much playing time if Warburton and Tipuric go. (If Dan Lydiate is fit, then Robshaw really does have a fight on his hands to make the test team).
So how about the rest of the team/squad – my choices follow with comments
1. Gethin Jenkins Wales On his day the best in the world/Paul James, Wales
2. Tom Youngs England/Rory Best, Ireland/ Ken Owens Wales
3. Adam Jones Wales – best tighthead in the world currently/Jeff Cross Scotland/Dan Cole England/Euan Murray Scotland
4. and 5. Alun wynne Jones wales immense and possible captain/Ian Evans Wales/ Richie Gray Scotland/ Paul O’Connell Ireland – despite lack of match time
6. Dan Lydiate wales (if match fit)/Chris Robshaw/ Ryan Jones Wales/ Tom Croft England/ Chris Henry Ireland
7. Sam Warburton wales (outside chance captain)/ Justin Tipuric Wales recently showed English back row how to do the job huge pace/Steven Ferris Ireland
8. Jamie Heaslip Ireland/Johnnie Beattie Scotland/ Dave Denton Scotland/Ben Morgan England/Toby Faletau Wales
9. Mike Phillips Wales – the best there is/Conor Murray Ireland/ Ben Youngs England.
10. Jonathon Sexton – Ireland/ Owen Farrell. – England/Toby Flood England/ Dan Biggar – outside chance of a place Lets not forget Johnny Wilkinson as a real blast from the past – in spectacular club form.
11 & 14. Mike Brown England – well deserved place/Alex Cuthbert and G. North Wales/ Tommy Bowe Ireland (Smoking if fit) Tim Visser Scotland/Keith Earls Ireland
12 & 13 Jamie Roberts & Johnathon Davies Wales/ Brad Barrit – England/Brian O’Driscoll Ireland/Luke Marshall Ireland
15 Leigh halfpenny Wales – outstanding player of the 6 nations tournament./Stuart Hogg Scotland/Rob Kearney (if fit)/Alex Goode england (outside chance only)/ What about Lee Byrne? Wales (in smoking club form).
We will all need to give some thought to utility players etc etc etc but this is my first stab at it