Live scores
Live Commentary
Lions : 29
| Fulltime

The Lions auditions have begun

x_man Roar Rookie

By x_man, x_man is a Roar Rookie


18 Have your say

    British and Irish Lions team coach Ian McGeechan attends a training session in Johannesburg, Tuesday, May 26, 2009. The Lions are in the country for a three-test tour. AP Photo

    Related coverage

    Around the beginning of February every year, in a land far, far away, a rugby tournament kicks off that most Australian rugby fans don’t really care about. Some may have never heard of it.

    This tournament is called the Six Nations championship.

    The factors that contribute to its anonymity in Australia are varied.

    However the two most common complaints centre around the obvious, but still valid point, that the games are all played somewhere between midnight and stupid o’clock Australian time, and the potentially ignorant but still mainstream view that all rugby teams based north of the equator play boring, unadventurous rugby that is about as spectator friendly as lawn bowls.

    The Christmas-like excitement surrounding the looming beginning of the Super Rugby season may also be another detractor, as the average appetite of the Australian rugby fan is only so big.

    Whatever the reason, it’s hard to argue that The Six Nations usually progresses largely unnoticed by us Aussie folk.

    You notice I said usually goes unnoticed? That’s because this year things are a bit different.

    This year there will be significantly more rugby fans dragging themselves out of bed at 3:30am and cracking a Red Bull before settling in to watch the northern hemisphere giants do battle.

    This year the name of the debutant in the English back row who had a blinder last week will be known by more than rugby journalists and a few die hard fans.

    This year, the Lions are coming.

    In a Lions’ tour year, there is a common theme to the (mostly) friendly Saturday afternoon pub banter as the focus of the entire rugby following public concentrates on one question.

    Who will be in the Lions starting fifteen?

    The seasoned rugby pundits have already begun spruiking their chosen ones and many litres of the amber liquid will be spilled by the less educated among us in the coming months in over excited attempts to convince Johnno that your line-up is better than his.

    Which brings me to the increased hype around The Six Nations. In a Lions year there is a new ingredient in the old recipe of achieving a potential grand slam and success over an old rival. The lure of that red jersey effectively turns the annual tournament into an five-stage audition process.

    Players’ hopes of touring can be made or broken as a result of their performances in their nations’ colours during the northern hemisphere’s premier international tournament and the first two games on Saturday were perfectly organised, as if by a higher power, to pit the home nations against each other.

    So who were the winners and losers of the first round of auditions?

    A number of hopefuls were on show in the first game of the weekend when the Irish travelled to Cardiff to meet the Welsh.

    After comments about his age and injury disrupting his participation in the November Tests, the mercurial Brian O’Driscoll proved he is still just that with an amazing display that saw him win the man-of-the-match award.

    His composure and skill to set up Simon Zebo for his first five pointer in the emerald green was first class and he backed that up by bagging himself a try (from a pick and drive no less) and making several try saving tackles.

    His name had been prematurely erased from the starting XV by some due to his age, recent injury status and the emergence of England’s Manu Tuilagi and the Welshman Jonathan Davies as potential candidates to wear the 13.

    After O’Driscoll’s stellar performance and Davies shocker in the same game that saw him throw several passes behind his teammates straight into touch, the seemingly ageless centre should make the cut.

    The other big statement was made by Welsh number eight Toby Faletau.

    Most of the crystal ball gazing by the ex international players and the like saw either Ireland’s captain Jamie Heaslip, or England’s Ben Morgan wearing the Lions number eight jersey come Test time.

    But the All Blacks have shown in recent years how effective a big, yet mobile number eight can be when running out wide and Kerian Read has scored countless tries in the corner since these tactics have been employed.

    Faletau has a similar skill set and showed his worth by eating up good metres in the wide channels time and time again. Don’t be surprised to see him at the top of Warren Gatland’s wish list come June.

    In a time where there is an abundance of quality finishers in the home nations ranks, George North had all but secured his Lions jersey based on his size, speed and recent performances and he did nothing to harm his chances on Saturday, despite not seeing much ball.

    Alex Cuthbert was also solid on the other wing for the Dragons, scoring a try off a great running line, but he has almost insurmountable competition for the other wing spot with Tommy Bowe, Chris Ashton and Tim Visser the main contenders.

    Later that evening at Twickenham the first real contender for the all-important fly half jersey, which seemingly belongs to Ireland’s Jonny Sexton, was uncovered in the form of Owen Farrell.

    While he is mainly known for his kicking game he controlled the game superbly with ball in hand against the Scots, and illustrated that point superbly with a pin point cut-out pass to gift Geoff Parling a try.

    Chris Robshaw consolidated his serotype as a hard working, no-fuss loose forward who leads from the front and he is surely slightly ahead of contemporary Sam Warburton in the polls when it comes to the openside flank.

    So in a mixed weekend where some players have staked their claim, and others have seen their stocks fall, only one thing is for certain.

    The number of Welsh players in the Lions squad will be significantly less than most thought after the World Cup if they cannot manage to avoid their ninth-straight defeat in Paris this weekend.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (18)

    • February 6th 2013 @ 5:20am
      Billy Bob said | February 6th 2013 @ 5:20am | ! Report

      Great to see Odriscoll in form. Ireland’s chances seem to rise with his fitness. Brilliant pass under pressure of traffic.
      Most may be bigger, probably faster, but no-one reads a game like him. He finds tries and makes crucial tackles like few others.
      He obviously wants to be on the plane.

    • February 6th 2013 @ 12:21pm
      Short-Blind said | February 6th 2013 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      X man I watched all the opening 6N games (thanks Fox IQ) and have to say I was pretty blown away about how good they were. Real skill on show – expansive rugby with excellent ball skills (generally) and support play in depth, as well as the rugby basics done well. TB Honest I was more entertained by these games than the rubbish served up in the RC last year – particularly by the Wallabies. The Wallabies will have to improve a hell of a lot to deal with the threat that is coming – and Deans will need to vary his tactics a bit more than he has to date. Real standouts for me were – the Irish no 7 and new winger (as well as BOD as you mentioned). The Scottish 15 and 8. For England I thought their 10 and 12 did well off a very good platform provided by a brutal up front performance by the tight 5 and Morgan before he left the field. If Gatland can get this lot playing as a unit the bar wil be set very high.

      • February 7th 2013 @ 11:54am
        Nicolas said | February 7th 2013 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        You are right with the Scottish players. Hogg (number 15) seems to be great, and number 8 played an exelent match too.

    • February 7th 2013 @ 12:48am
      Hightackle said | February 7th 2013 @ 12:48am | ! Report

      Lions 23 of week 1 (imo)


      And before you get outraged, this is just an opinion based on watching the games for a 2nd time and off the top of my head.

    • February 7th 2013 @ 1:06am
      Katipo said | February 7th 2013 @ 1:06am | ! Report

      I have to agree the opening 3 test matches of six-nations 2013 were all superior spectacles to any of last years Rugby Championship tests.

      The two Italian tries, both born of counter attack with multiple line breaks and many players handling the ball per phase, were better than any tries scored in recent memory by Southern Hemisphere powers. I found myself glued to the TV and cheering loudly at the scores. A long time since I’ve been so excited watching a rugby match as a neutral spectator.

      Could The 6 Nations be about to usurp RC as the premium tournament outside of Rugby World Cup? I think so. Are we about to enter a rare period of European rugby dominance signalled by a victorious Lions tour of Australia? There will be no French or Italians on this Lions tour but Europe is definitely on the rise.

      • February 7th 2013 @ 4:05am
        Hightackle said | February 7th 2013 @ 4:05am | ! Report

        I dont think it will be dominance and Im pretty sure Italy, Sco and Wal wont start beating SANZAR teams consistently.
        I do think Eng will spend some time in the top 3 soon, perhaps even at #1, and the nearly complete dominance of NZ over the NH is drawing to an end but I doubt Eng, Fra and Ire will not dominate the SANZAR nations in any way, well not in the near future anyway.

        • February 8th 2013 @ 2:08am
          Katipo said | February 8th 2013 @ 2:08am | ! Report

          @hightackle Fair enough. I overstated it. Dominance is unlikely. Parity perhaps.

      • February 7th 2013 @ 6:50am
        Jerry said | February 7th 2013 @ 6:50am | ! Report

        “The two Italian tries, both born of counter attack with multiple line breaks and many players handling the ball per phase, were better than any tries scored in recent memory by Southern Hemisphere powers”

        Geez, you’ve got a short memory.

        Or Messam’s try vs Wales etc….

        • February 8th 2013 @ 2:06am
          Katipo said | February 8th 2013 @ 2:06am | ! Report

          Yeah. No. (As they say in NZ).There are some good tries sure but the Savea try has two passes from a scrum. Hardly amazing. Were any of those All Black tries scored from counter attack? During both Italian tries France broke the line before Italy won back possession and scored. That’s what I’m talking about. End to end stuff. Possession changing hands.

          Most All Black tries 2012 were one way traffic. Not a criticism of the AB’s – they were just so dominant in most test matches. Izzy Dagg such a great player too.

          • February 8th 2013 @ 7:12am
            Jerry said | February 8th 2013 @ 7:12am | ! Report

            Counter attack you say? Well yeah, a few of those tries are.

            So was this – Messam’s try at 1:10 or Romano at 2:15 for that matter

            Honestly, if it weren’t Italy scoring those tries, they’d be nothing special.

      • February 7th 2013 @ 12:03pm
        Nicolas said | February 7th 2013 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        If you talk about the Italian tries you have to say to that they were 100% ARGENTINIAN trys.
        In the first one, Orquera (from Cordoba, Argentina) give the assist pass to Parisse (from Buenos Aires, Argentina).
        And in the second try, Orquera make magic again to give another assist pass to Castrogiovani (Entre Ríos, Argentina)

        All Argentinian players for Italia rugby.

        I think the problem is in the Argentinian triners who don´t know how to recruit players.

        • February 8th 2013 @ 1:05am
          Hightackle said | February 8th 2013 @ 1:05am | ! Report

          Sergio was born to Italian parents and spoke Italian all of his life before moving there to play rugby.
          The same is true of Orquera.
          Im not sure about Carstro but his name sounds Italian in origin perhaps.

    • February 7th 2013 @ 5:45am
      Billy Bob said | February 7th 2013 @ 5:45am | ! Report

      Yes England do look very strong.
      So do Ireland.
      Great games all of them.
      Great wake up call for SH teams.
      The Lions are not coming here for a haircut.

    • February 7th 2013 @ 12:39pm
      Bakkies said | February 7th 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

      ”Chris Robshaw consolidated his serotype as a hard working, no-fuss loose forward who leads from the front and he is surely slightly ahead of contemporary Sam Warburton in the polls when it comes to the openside flank.”

      Only if you are a Wallabies fan. Both are military medium and don’t possess a threat with ball in hand. Warbuton shouldn’t be starting for Wales.

      Neither of them were as good as O’Brien (who doesn’t really play as an Australian style openside) and Tipuric. Tipuric was very dangerous when he came on with ball in hand and he is good on the deck too. I would be worried if those two are picked. Ross Rennie from Scotland is out injured and he was good in the 6 Nations last year. Only loose thing about Rennie’s game is his tackling.

      O’Brien is a chance at 6 with Croft, Ferris and Lydiate missing serious Rugby. Pretty sure Croft has played the odd game recently.

      • February 8th 2013 @ 12:55am
        Hightackle said | February 8th 2013 @ 12:55am | ! Report

        Chris Robshaw has been very, very good recently.
        In last weekends games he made 17 runs, 13 passes, 5 offloads, 1 clean break and made 51 metres with ball in hand. O’Brien made 12 runs, 2 passes, 0 offloads, 0 clean breaks and made only 25 metres according to ESPN.

        Military medium? No I dont think so.

        • Roar Guru

          February 8th 2013 @ 10:16am
          Poth Ale said | February 8th 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          Tackles made/missed

          Robshaw 4/2
          O’Brien 18/2

          O’Brien isn’t a natural 7 compared to the likes of Warburton or Tipuric.
          As Bakkies points out, he’s bloody good 6 and they generally make the yards. O’Mahony made 66 metres in 9 runs in last week’s match along with passes, clean breaks and defender beaten.

          Different players, different combos, different outcomes.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.