Discussion in 'Other Sports' started by Sideshow Bob, Sep 7, 2016.
Warren Gatland has been named British and Irish Lions coach for the 2017 tour of New Zealand.
Think that's the right choice... Not because of what he's done in the last 4 years but what he did on the last tour! He's a good choice with Eddie Jones ruling himself out plus it's still early days for Jones
The first test is next Saturday, what your is starting XV?
Jack McGrath, Dylan Hartley, WP Nel; Maro Itoje, Alun-Wyn Jones; CJ Stander, Sean O'Brien, Taulupe Faletau; Conor Murray, Jonny Sexton; Robbie Henshaw, Elliot Daly; Liam Williams, Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson.
6 Irish, 4 English, 3 Welsh, 2 Scottish.
Pretty pleased with that if everyone is fit. Ireland's win and performances in both games against NZ have influenced my team, which just shows that there's plenty of time for me to change that side. England still have 2 games left this series and haven't really been tested yet.
This lad putting a hand up for that TH prop berth.
My team would be very similar to Jason's. Only differences would be Farrell at 12 with Henshaw at 13 - Farrell then assuming kicking duties over Sexton. Also Billy Vunipola at 8... That said can understand the selection of Faletau in terms of work rate over Vunipola. Haven't seen much of Nel but Furlong has a good shot at the 3 shirt if he keeps his form up. He's very young for a prop but he's getting better week on week. Most pundits reckon Nel is nailed on for the shirt though. Johnny Grey has been in great form for Scotland, he will be in with a chance at second row, which could allow Itoje to play at 6. However if it is Hartley at hooker you'd expect either Itoje or Kruis..or potentially both..at second row.
Lots of good back row/second row options really, I'd expect Iain Henderson to stake a big claim too once he gets back to full fitness. Also should Warburton get back to full fitness and form then he will certainly be there or there abouts.
Liam Williams certainly ahead of North in the pecking order for wing. That may change come June but at the minute he's well ahead. Watson should be nailed on at 14. Halfpenny could dislodge Hogg at fullback if Farrell isn't selected at 12, to assume kicking duties. Sexton is a good kicker but not as reliable as Farrell or Halfpenny and every kick will need to go through the posts to beat the All Blacks.
Was going to pick Farrell at 12 and Henshaw outside. Just thinking about partnerships, Irish 9/10/12. If Farrell 12, maybe you go with Ford at 10. Same could be said at 2nd row with Kruis and Itoje but for me i'd have to have AWJ in, i'd even have him as my captain. Nel's scrummaging gives him the edge atm but there are injury worries with him being out currently with a neck injury. Been impressed by Furlong. I've never been a fan of Cole. Halfpenny been replaced at full back for Wales with Liam Williams playing there now, Halfpenny actually more effective on the wing on Saturday, his natural position so might be that Williams plays at FB with Halfpenny on wing if his kicking is needed. North hasn't done enough for me for a good few years now. I'd currently question whether i'd even take him on the tour, plenty of others about making more noise to be ahead of him.
What about the bench/impact subs?
Based on the above starting teams:
I'd like to replace Daly (which was a bit of a left field pick any way) from my side with Joseph. What a performance today against the Aussies. Defensively and offensively has had a great autumn.
British and Irish Lions: Borthwick, Howley and Farrell set to join coaching staff
Youngs had a great Autumn - to back track, on form he'd be replacement 9. Some calls for him to start but I felt it was very much advantage Murray after yesterday. Youngs wasn't helped by a hapless showing around him mind. Rationale for Webb in the above was that when fully fit and firing about a year or so ago, he'd have been my Lions starter. 3 great options nonetheless.
Conor Murray for me is the best 9 in the world at the minute. Webb injured a fair bit over the last year which has been a shame and at the minute, he's down the list. Biggar not been in great form for club or country this season.
I've got Stander in my team above and with every passing game, he's looking more and more likely to start. Competition is really good in the back row though.
Hartley has dropped down the list after his misdemeanour the other day. Could be an all Irish front row.
Thoughts on Jack Nowell? Is he a serious contender for a place in the starting XV?
Doing very well for Exeter as always but might not even get in the England XV. If he does get in, he needs to perform in the 6 Nations.
He looked excellent under Lancaster but for some reason hasn't got as much of a look in under Jones. I'd rate him above May and Yarde personally. He has a more rounded game. The wing positions for the Lions are very much up for grabs.
We have passed the midway point of the 6 Nations. Any further thoughts on the starting XV?
Lots of Scots putting their hand up. Welsh players big losers and most will be looking at a tour to the pacific islands rather than NZ. Will be interesting to see if Gatland is biased in his selection, had a good reason for picking Welsh in 2013, we were best team in Europe, now we are not, not close.
I think right now based on the Six Nations you'd have to go mainly Irish? A few Scots and a lot of English players but maybe only a few Welsh in the whole squad? And it pains me to say that but it's a hell of a turn around from 4 years ago.
Of course there's still 2 games to play in the Six Nations and England are still going for back to back Grand Slams! But they've looked very very vulnerable in every single game so much. Their success to me right now is coming more from their team belief and other teams not believing they can beat them.
As a team England have not played well but they have players capable of individual brilliance, they have know-how, a winning mentality, they also have a really strong bench.
Still a lot of rugby to be played. Scotland would have a chance against England if they were home, i'd be surprised to see Scotland win at twickenham, they have been the team i've been most impressed with, they have a complete team for a change; forwards, backs, attack and defence. The big difference for them is their ability to now score tries which they struggled to do for many years. Something Wales now struggle to do. The game has changed since the last World Cup in the northern hemisphere, it's become more about tries and less about defence. Wales have been left behind and I think it's a coaching issue.
The biggest winners from the opening rounds for me are the Gray brothers, Hogg, Stander, Furlong, Launchbury, Daly and Tipuric. Two interesting rounds of games ahead though!
Pundits on welsh rugby tv show Scrum V just said they'd leave Tipuric out for Faletau against Ireland... sigh! The 2 players people are talking about getting dropped most are Tipuric and Biggar, can understand it a bit more with Biggar as Davies offers something different but he's done nothing wrong really and neither has Tipuric. Far bigger problems in the team and squad than those 2. Fed up with Welsh rugby at the moment yet wouldn't be surprised if they pulled something out the bag on Friday and paper over the cracks again just as they've been doing since the World Cup in 2015.
The squad is announced on the 19th April. Any unexpected names to be included?
British and Irish Lions: Jonathan Joseph & Joe Launchbury set to miss out
Gatland seems to be going for big characters and physicality, which isn't a huge surprise I suppose. Launchbury is a fine player but in the heat of the battle the past few weeks against Ireland and Leinster he came up short. Joseph is a super player too but again probably isn't made for a battle scenario.
In terms of unexpected additions, I would have been advocating Ringrose given some of his displays lately - for me he's the form centre in Europe and his performance agains Wasps was incredible, lost count the number of line breaks he made. However if Joseph is missing out you would find it very hard to see Ringrose included. I like Te'o's inclusion - he's a super player and will push Davies and Henshaw hard for the 13 shirt. All similar players so you can fit them all in seamlessly without adjusting the game plan - or partner two of the three together even (all adept at 12 and 13).
Sinckler would have been another unexpected name I'd have had in - and it seems he will indeed be included now. He's an excellent impact sub. Furlong and Cole likely to fight it out for the starting berth with Sinckler on the bench regardless.
Rumour is Jamie Roberts chosen ahead of Joseph. Donnacha Ryan ahead of Launchbury. No Ford or Brown either from England which for me is no surprise. For me Joseph is the one centre we have that can cause NZ damage, had a really strong 12 months in attack and defence.
What are the arguments for Roberts' inclusion in the squad?
Even with my Daffodil and Leek specs on i'm struggling to come up with any. Not even first choice for Wales and the reason for that is that he failed to get over gain line regularly in NZ last summer and then had a poor defensive game against Australia in the autumn. Struggles to get in Quins side now and when he does he gets given the run around. No less than I expected from Gatland though, people expecting Farrell at 12 are very much mistaken.
Forwards: Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O'Brien (Ireland), Peter O'Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales)
Backs: Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te'o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England)
Good job that Roberts over Joseph rumour was just that.
Some nice surprises in there with George over Hartley and Sinckler over Cole. I know Jon Davies personally and am delighted for him but he's lucky to be selected, very lucky, had a decent 6 Nations despite being off form at club level but even so, others including Scott Williams far more deserving of going, it's down to who Gatland trusts most though which is why Wales have such a large selection. Scotland have had a much stronger 12 months and had a team in a Euro QF, got to wonder if that drubbing to England counted against a lot of them though. They can be unhappy with having only 2 selected but only Jonny Gray for me would be another and then you're thinking "but at who's expense?". Lot of good Scottish players about and collectively they have been fantastic but individually they aren't better than those selected at present, I don't think you could trust a lot of them to play against NZ.
Me trying to think what Gatland's XV will be from that squad (and probably way off the mark): McGrath, Owens, Furlong; Itoje, Kruis; Stander, Warburton, Faletau; Murray, Sexton; Henshaw, Joseph; North, Halfpenny, Watson.
Think he'll base a lot of it on combinations. Itoje and Kruis have a very good understanding but he may bench one for AWJ. Think he might favour Faletau over Vunipola. Murray, Sexton, Henshaw combo, i'd be surprised to see Gatland pick Farrell at 12. Joseph the best 13 around, very strong defensively and offensively. North a cert for him, full back a tough one to judge, think he may have doubts over Hogg defensively and may favour someone he trusts and that's Halfpenny, who will probably be goal kicker too, if he wants a more attacking full back he can trust defensively he may even go for Liam Williams before Hogg.
British and Irish Lions 2017: Billy Vunipola withdraws from squad with shoulder injury
I actually think that's the biggest blow we could have had. There's nobody else in the squad that comes close to what Vunipola would have offered in terms of ball carrying.
You would have to think that given the physicality of modern day rugby, there will be a lot more injuries along the way. Courtney Lawes just went off injured for Northampton here in their Champions Cup play-off game.
The team I'd choose at present: M.Vunipola, Best, Furlong, Kruis, Itoje, Stander, Warburton, Faletau; Murray, Sexton; North, Farrell, Henshaw, Watson, Hogg.
Provincial Barbarians: L Laulala; S Vaka, I Finau, D Sweeney, S Reece, B Gatland, J Stratton, A Ross, S Anderson-Heather, O Jager, J Goodhue, K Mewett, J Tucker, L Boshier, M Dunshea.
Replacements: A Makalio, T Fahamokioa, M Renata, M Matich, P Rowe, R Judd, J Lowe, J Ngaluafe.
British and Irish Lions: S Hogg; A Watson, J Joseph, B Te'o, T Seymour; J Sexton, G Laidlaw; J Marler, R Best, K Sinckler, AW Jones, I Henderson, R Moriarty, S Warburton, T Faletau.
Replacements: J George, M Vunipola, T Furlong, G Kruis, J Tipuric, R Webb, O Farrell, E Daly.
I actually think that Te'o has a good chance of starting at 12 in the tests. Although I have Farrell at 12 in the team that I would select, I would agree with Jason in that Gatland is likely to view him as a 10 option (will be v tight between him and Sexton for test starter). In terms of getting over the gain line, Te'o is the best option at 12. He's a very talented player too.
With Billy Vunipola missing, Iain Henderson may be a surprise inclusion in the test 23's - he's a big ball carrier and is also really effective at the choke tackle. His form hasn't been great this season but if he finds that in the next few games he will be in with a real shout of a test squad place.