Now before you all get too irate, we acknowledge that the following fifteen players will not start the first test for the Lions. We know that Julia Gillard will have Russell Crowe’s love child before Dan Biggar, Luke Marshall and Richard Hibbard come together in Brisbane. But we have picked off performance over the last weekend of Six Nations matches and not off reputation.
Hogg, Halfpenny and Brown start at the back partly due to their own all round excellence and partly due to the surprising poverty of genuine wing play so far in this year’s Championship. Craig Gilroy has been excellent in much that he has done, but his kicking game needs improvement. The Welsh duo have been a big (literally) disappointment. Sean Maitland came close, unlike Visser and Ashton, both of who have to improve defensively.
Brian O’Driscoll slots in at 13, still way ahead of anyone else and a try scorer against Scotland if Keith Earls had the slightest vision. Marshall joins him in the centre for the excellence of his performance, although we would like him to work on his pass off the left hand.
Dan Biggar had a hand, foot in Wales’s tries and kicked well under instruction. Ben Youngs gets in just ahead of Conor Murray and Greg Laidlaw on a tight call.
We have gone for an all Wales front row. The scrummage was the difference between the sides in Italy and whilst acknowledging some of the technical deficiencies of the Italian number eight in locking and loading in the absence of Parisse, the Welsh boys took huge advantage.
In the second row Parling and Hamilton both put in a shift. The Welsh boys are unlucky, but our main issue with the other candidates is their high body positions which make them more vulnerable in the tackle and less efficient at clearing out at the breakdown.
The back row is perhaps the richest area of the team alongside full back. But Tom Wood was the weekend’s outstanding player and Sean O’Brien and Chris Robshaw were not far behind. So here is our team. We know that you won’t agree, so let us know what you think and why.
Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
Luke Marshall (Ireland)
Mike Brown (England)
Dan Biggar (Wales)
Ben Youngs (England)
Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
Richard Hibbard (Wales)
Adam Jones (Wales)
Geoff Parling (England)
Jim Hamilton (Scotland)
Sean O’Brien (Ireland)
Chris Robshaw (England, captain)
Tom Wood (England)
So you’ve heard theirs, now let’s hear yours. Comments below…