No English mustard for the Lions’ touring snack
After their dismal performance, would you have any English players in the Irish and British Lions team for South Africa? Not according to the Daily Telegraph, the bastion newspaper of the Home Counties.
As they see it, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland can fill all the first-team berths easily. It set me thinking as to the possibilities or alternatives. Some of the choices from the Daily Telegraph I agreed with, others not.
Shoo-in, Lee Byrne, has already got his dibs on the fifteen shirt, with possibly Keith Earls or Girban Dempsey playing back-up.
IRB player of the year, Shane Williams remains on song and will no doubt occupy his familiar spot on the wing. The other is a toss-up between Rob Kearney and Shane Horgan, with Scotland’s Rory Lamont an outside possibility.
The peerless Brian O’Driscoll, whilst missing his earlier pace, still has sufficient swerve and world-class defensive capabilities to keep him firmly in place – and a possible captain too.
Good things come in pairs, and Ireland’s Luke Fitzgerald would likely join up with him, though the Tanned One from the Valleys may sulk his way into the team.
Fitzgerald has better pace and their tackling is about evens.
However, Henson has an impressive long-range kicking boot, which can sometimes come in very handy to keep teams honest in their own half.
None of the fly-halves or five-eights had a great Autumn in internationals.
O’Gara had a blow-out against New Zealand, but recovered to effortlessly steer Ireland to victory over Argentina. Wales’ Stephen Jones was quietly consistent, though, and may have a better temperament for the Boks cauldron.
Well most account seems to have been taken on Scotland’s Mike Blair, a nominee for the IRB awards. As back-up, Tomas O’Leary hasn’t done enough for his country yet, although if Peter Stringer could reproduce the form from the Munster/All Blacks match, he’d push Blair for the first spot.
Gareth Cooper might be the better choice.
Up front Gethin Jenkins has been excellent in the front row and the Telegraph has him packing down alongside Ross Ford of Scotland and the “immense presence that is Euan Murray who really is looking like a scrummager who could hurt even the Boks.”
I think Jerry Flannery could well fit the No Two jersey and make it his own before the Six Nations is over.
Alun-Wyn Jones in the view of some has been the stand-out performer. Paul O’Connell – injured and out of form against New Zealand – recovered brilliantly against Argentina as the other likely certainty, and another possible captain of the team.
Donncha O’Callaghan might relish a return to his birth nation but could face a major challenge from Scotland’s Nathan Hines. Together, this pairing must cope with the Botha/Matfield duo. Some contest!
Backrow could have an inevitable Welsh flavour.
Andy Powell came out of nowhere to outshine the other No 8s, though Ryan Jones or Denis Leamy could help out in back-up.
Jones is the most likely name on the team sheet, as he has become front-runner for the captaincy, and will slot in at blindside. Martyn Williams and David Wallace will fight to be the one to outshine Schalk Burger. Wallace has the creds in his last outing for Ireland in their win against the Boks in 2006.
Williams may be the one with the form though, particularly if Wales manage another Six Nations title.
England? Hah! Who needs them?
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