Lions tour to ‘improve England’s depth’



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    England coach Eddie Jones is planning to use the loss of several key players to the British and Irish Lions’ tour in New Zealand this year as an opportunity to build strength in depth ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

    With a number England players likely to be included in the Lions squad bidding to beat the All Blacks for the first time since 1971, Jones will be forced to make changes during the November internationals to avoid burnout.

    “The only part of 2017 I can really control is the Six Nations, all our focus is on that. Post Six Nations we are going to lose 10 to 15 of our players to the Lions,” Jones told the Daily Mail.

    “Maybe those players won’t play for us in the November (internationals) because they will have played probably twice the number of post-season games they will normally have played. We don’t have to rest them.

    “But speaking to a number of players who have been on Lions tours, they found those November matches to be the hardest – so I think we have to be smart about it. I look on 2017 as a massive opportunity to increase the depth of the squad.”

    Australian Jones, a former Wallabies coach, has extended England’s run to 14 successive victories, four short of the record the All Blacks set last year before losing to Ireland.

    “If we can sit down in the last week of November and say we have got 45 guys who can play Test rugby at the level that will be required at the 2019 World Cup, then this year will have been an enormous year for us,” Jones added.

    “And if we lose a few battles on the way, it will help us win the war. We had a camp back in August when we interviewed all the players about their ambitions for 2017 and out of the 45 players attending, only one player spoke about the Lions.

    “Most of the players want to play for England first but they realise that a consequence of playing well for England is that they might get to tour for the Lions.” (Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (41)

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2017 @ 12:40pm
      Poth Ale said | January 7th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      It’s funny that.

      Ireland plan to use the Lions tour to improve their squad depth. Which is why Schmidt isn’t going with the Lions.

      Scotland plan to,use the Lions tour to improve their squad depth. Which is why Townsend isn’t going with the Lions.

      And now Eddie Jones says he’s doing the same.

      • January 7th 2017 @ 4:28pm
        What! said | January 7th 2017 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

        My Lions team.

        1 J.McGrath IRE
        2 R.Best (c) IRE
        3 W.P.Nel SCO
        4 M.Itoje ENG
        5 D.Toner IRE
        6 C.Robshaw ENG
        7 S.O’Brien IRE
        8 T.Feletau WAL
        9 B.Youngs ENG
        10 O.Farrell ENG
        11 G.North WAL
        12 R.Henshaw IRE
        13 J.Joseph ENG
        14 L.Williams WAL
        15 S.Hogg SCO

        16 J.George ENG
        17 M.Vunipola ENG
        18 D.Cole ENG
        19 J.Gray SCO
        20 B.Vunipola ENG
        21 C.Murray IRE
        22 J.Sexton IRE
        23 S.Zebo IRE

        • January 8th 2017 @ 6:08am
          adastra32 said | January 8th 2017 @ 6:08am | ! Report

          Some good picks, but on current form, Faletau, North and Gray from the 23 would be lucky to be there. The 6N and European Cup will be the big indicators though, so it’s early doors.

          • January 8th 2017 @ 2:21pm
            What! said | January 8th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

            Yes, some picked on form, some picked on quality over time (North, Feletau) and some because I like em (Gray) and had to include another Scot somewhere, Id honestly have Lawes or Launchbury but thats too many English for some to accept. Bennett would be a good inclusion.

            I think the Lions need to stay in touch for 50 and then counter the ABs bench with a bench like this one. I dont think its a good idea to play all your trump cards straight away.

            Guys like Stander, B.Vunipola, Zebo, Watson, Lawes, M.Vunipola, Sinckler need to provide impact. Not all of them but a few.

            Youngs and Murray need to employ a great kicking game and their scrum and lineout need to be as good or better than NZs.

            This is probably the best Lions squad Ive seen in my lifetime.

            But you are right, Europe and the 6 nats will be key.

            I wouldnt be surprised to see guys like Russell, Webb, Daly, O’Mahony or even Ringrose get mentioned as possible 23 candidates.

            Its going to be a great series.
            NZ could get better with the addition of SBW, R.Ioane, Milne-Skudder, Laulala etc.

            What a clash.

            NZ 2-1.

            • January 8th 2017 @ 7:50pm
              Jumbo said | January 8th 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

              Best in your lifetime? Were you not born in 2005.. that lions squad would cheese all over this squad.?

              • January 8th 2017 @ 8:06pm
                Taylorman said | January 8th 2017 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

                Yeah agree, especially head to head. The 71 and probably more so the 74 side was the best Ive seen. By far.

              • January 8th 2017 @ 10:13pm
                davSA said | January 8th 2017 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

                I was fortunate to be taken to my first rugby test by my old man at Loftus Versveld for the 2nd test between the ’74 lions and the Boks. In those days there was no TV in SA so tickets were scarce. It was a rare treat|The crowd was in a boisterous mood, despite the Boks losing the first test 12-3 . This was to be our revenge , at altitude in Pretoria .We were going to fix those Engelse… Well 80 minutes later we had just witnessed a rugby massacre .The names JPR Williams , Mcbride , Slattery, Edwards , Bennett ,Brown, Windsor , Davies , JJ Wiliams , Gibson , Uttley etc. had just done the unthinkable. They had earned the respect of the most one eyed supporters on the planet. They won the scrums, lineouts , running game , kicking game and the fights. On leaving the stadium you could literally hear a pin drop. It was the most complete rugby performance I have ever seen , even to this day..

              • January 9th 2017 @ 4:50pm
                Taylorman said | January 9th 2017 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

                Yes I believe that year was the greatest NH rugby has ever been, before or since. And it had a good spread of players where 71 was heavily Welsh dominated, particularly in th pack.

              • January 9th 2017 @ 7:05pm
                davSA said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

                That was it about them Funbus , they were very hard men . The Boks had a lock forward called Moaner Van Heerden . He was a real enforcer and a bit of a bully .During the test a fight broke out and JPR who was half the size of Van Heerden ran almost the length of the field to belt Van Heerden. I don’t personally remember the incident , was a long time ago but it is well documented .
                But lets not take away their skill. The world of rugby at that point had not before witnessed a collective skill level and on field intelligence that these guys possessed . ….Apologies to AAP for deviating from the article but this is kinda interesting.

              • January 10th 2017 @ 2:07am
                What! said | January 10th 2017 @ 2:07am | ! Report

                I love it when people doubt how good a team is going to be.

                In 2004 the Lions contributing team were horrible.
                They won 13 from 33 against non-lions contributing teams.

                Just to show you how silly you are, in 2015 the Lions contributing teams won about 26 from 34 against non Lions contributing teams.

                So in 2004 they won about 35% and in 2016 they won about 70%.

                But they were a better bunch of players to choose from?

                I think thats wrong and f-ing obviously so.

                Eng did not lose last year. Ire beat the ABs.

                But we shall see.

              • January 10th 2017 @ 3:00pm
                Jumbo said | January 10th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

                I love how the people predict the future, the 2005 squad man for man were a better team on paper. How many players in next years team hold as much regard as wilkinson,Bod, dallagio, jason robinson,o’gara, paul o’connell, neil back, will greenwood just to name a few. You do realise that out of your outstanding contributing teams only 15 can take the field, these players from different teams and expected to gell. Ok maybe i am silly, so were england in 2012 after beating the abs, it was the turning of the tide they thought.. one good year counts for nothing and they didn’t play the best team. Got to love the enthusiasm coming out of the NH, dominate for a few years first before chest beating..

              • January 11th 2017 @ 12:58am
                Jumbo said | January 11th 2017 @ 12:58am | ! Report

                I think whats also obvious, is of those contributing teams only one beat the all blacks. Only for that to be rectified two weeks later and may not happen again for awhile.Also the springboks and wallabies in a rebuilding phase and out of sorts contributing to they’re success..your comparing pears and apples ?

              • January 10th 2017 @ 5:44am
                P2R2 said | January 10th 2017 @ 5:44am | ! Report

                really and NZ white-washed them (the 2005 team)…a really good team

              • January 10th 2017 @ 3:03pm
                Jumbo said | January 10th 2017 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

                Nz whitewash most teams that come to they’re shores..

            • January 9th 2017 @ 4:35pm
              FunBus said | January 9th 2017 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

              Thanks for reigniting memories, davSA. That ’74 squad was the best in my view followed by ’71. I think in terms of talent the next best was 2001, but it was an unhappy tour. In my view they were a significantly better team than the WBs, in pure talent terms.

              Stories of the ’74 squad are legend. I watched a documentary a few months back on them. One night after a test win they drank the hotel dry and became a little ‘rowdy’. 3am the hotel owner goes up to Willie John McBride’s room (the captain) and bangs on the door. Willie answers it stark naked puffing on a pipe. The owner says he’s had enough and he’s going to call the police. Willie puffs on his pipe thinks about this for a while and says ‘will there be many of them?’

              • January 10th 2017 @ 2:31am
                What! said | January 10th 2017 @ 2:31am | ! Report

                I wasnt born in 71 or 74.
                The Lions squad in 2001 was exceptional but let me make this point, the squad was made to look good in hindsight after accomplishments, as this one will be.

                Its like people were saying at the start of 2016 that the NZ team was going to be worse than 2015 because of NZ greats retiring.
                Its because people dont see that greats are coming through because they are not yet considered great.

                This generation of players has future greats like Itoje in it and imo he will be considered one of the greatest ever and this Lions squad will be too. It just so happens that this is arguably the best national team ever as their opponents.

                NZ 2-1.

              • January 10th 2017 @ 2:56am
                What! said | January 10th 2017 @ 2:56am | ! Report

                My point is that if you had said in 2002 that D.Carter would not only be considered the best 10 ever but one of the best players ever many would have said that was ridiculous.
                I think this squad has players like D.Carter in it. Players that will be considered great.

              • Roar Guru

                January 10th 2017 @ 5:49am
                taylorman said | January 10th 2017 @ 5:49am | ! Report

                Possibly but until then all we can go on is form and the Lions in NZ are well known for underperforming. Look at that team in 05 and no way on earth would you expect that side to get not just beaten, but thrashed every test match.
                And your Carter scenario is correct but it is also more likely to come from a NZ situation. You dont keep hearing about all the NH sides “where do they keep getting these players from” so its ironic you use a NZ example to make your point.
                If anything the Super series is more likely to spurn a great player than the Lions are.
                And NZers were confident of NZ being as good in terms of the sides playing ability in 2017, you being a kiwi and all that. It was key leadership in certain areas like the Centers we had concerns about, and largely still do.
                We havent yet replaced the best centre pair, or Seven or captain but we are getting there.
                It was more overseas folk that thought we might br more beatable.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 8:12pm
        Jerry said | January 9th 2017 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

        England are about as deep as they can go, no big names coming through that would enhance this squad at the moment.

        • January 10th 2017 @ 12:42am
          Taylorman said | January 10th 2017 @ 12:42am | ! Report

          Looking at What’s 23, it looks close to what we’ll expect give or take a player here or there and head to head I dont see them clearly ahead in any single position.

          The best players are Itoje, Billy V, Liam W and SOB in my opinion. If they play Farrell at 10 in a three test series here they won’t have learnt from 2005 at all. He’ll have the effect of strangling his own backline when he gets put under pressure, and they’ll quickly revert to type, so easily done by Gatland, who I think after all these years having a go is already resigned in his own mind. How he will manage the team under the pressure they’ll face will be interesting.

          However, the current trend is with the NH, where last year it wasn’t, so it’s a funny game. It might be a good thing for the game if the Lions win, but having seen the pressure build up over several Lions tours, hard to see.

          I mean POC actually took up smoking in 2005 he was that stressed.

        • January 10th 2017 @ 1:52am
          What! said | January 10th 2017 @ 1:52am | ! Report

          Well I think thats pretty naive tbh.

    • January 8th 2017 @ 7:39am
      Taylorman said | January 8th 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Really? The last Lions test is on July 8. Is Jones saying his players need more than four months to recover from a tour to play November, or is he pulling another one?

      Or is it the clubs that demand their time in that four months, in which case he shouldn’t be ‘blaming’ the Lions tour.

      Ok to build depth but last year we were told England were exhausted from 12 months non stop rugby before landing in oz.Didnt seem to affect them then.

      My how things have changed.

      • January 8th 2017 @ 7:51am
        Taylorman said | January 8th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        In saying that, he sure is saying the right things re depth etc, and following Englands fortunes has lately become a lot of fun.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 1:42pm
        Neil Back said | January 9th 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

        Mate, you demonstarted your ignorance of the NH season when you previously assumed players like Farrell and Co had a lengthy break before travelling to the Oz tour when in fact they were contesting European finals immediately before.

        The fact is, as attested by players above, many come back from these tours carrying injuries into the Autumn season they wouldn’t normally and never seem to catch up. Get over it.

        • Roar Guru

          January 9th 2017 @ 2:11pm
          taylorman said | January 9th 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

          I didnt assume anything Neil. Posters claimed the NH players were exhausted coming into the oz tour.
          When I questioned how, and which players, no one was able to clarify it. There was this broad assurance that all NH players were ‘exhausted’. This claim was made both before, during, and even after the oz tour, yet no one has been able to provide even the most basic of detail on it, instead basking on the fact that an exhausted Emgland beat oz.
          And here you are doing ot again. Its now about perceived injuries is it?
          So the players that toured were actually ok, an ‘unexhausted’.
          When the ABs tour the NH next year after the Lions tour, a super tourney from feb to August, a rugby championship till october be able to claim similar exhaustion?
          Four months is four months, its a simple question. Accept some will be injured but thats not what he said. Exhausted didnt mean injured last tome i looked.

          • Roar Guru

            January 9th 2017 @ 5:52pm
            Rugby Fan said | January 9th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

            I posted several times about how the entire England schedule from the start of the 2014/5 through to the 2016 summer tour was just absurd. There was no space for a proper pre-season (two were needed) during that entire period.

            No-one’s fault but our own but running players into the ground is a ridiculous way to manage the sport.

          • January 9th 2017 @ 7:21pm
            Neil Back said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

            Yes you did buddy. You made your usual sarky comments about exhaustion quoting a rest period that didn’t exist (which I corrected you on at the time) and as posters like Rugby Fan here, there’s been no shortage of factual comment before – but you could equally just compare playing schedules for those England Internationals playing club and country if you could be bothered. But it’s easier to be sarky right.

            Perceived injuries? Again, if you’d ever watched the after effects of a Lions tour from outside your bubble you’d know what typically happens and what rugby commentators and players have talked about for a long time.

            And you really should get that exhausted and injured actually are the same thing because they’re inextricably linked – one leads to the other.

            Your 4 months comment is also baffling. So club commitments don’t count? You also don’t get the attritional nature of NH club rugby versus SH?

            • January 10th 2017 @ 8:05am
              taylorman said | January 10th 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

              The four months is the period between the last Lions test and the November series. How is that baffling?

              Jones simply mentioned exhaustion where you interpret that to be a combination of injuries and/ or involvement in club play.

              I cant see how either can be translated as exhaustion. Am I missing something? I accept that Lions tours of NZ are about as tough as it gets, but I wouldnt expect a player to take four months to not be ready enough to play test rugby again. Perhaps a couple. But four? Can you explain that?

              • Roar Guru

                January 10th 2017 @ 11:34am
                Rugby Fan said | January 10th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

                It’s not four months off, Taylorman.

              • January 10th 2017 @ 4:07pm
                Taylorman said | January 10th 2017 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

                Well that makes it all clear. Thanks, I think.

              • January 10th 2017 @ 7:06pm
                Neil Back said | January 10th 2017 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

                You’re absolutely correct. You’re missing something.

    • January 9th 2017 @ 6:41am
      Stuart John Pearson said | January 9th 2017 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      After the cartoons in the nz herald let’s hope that the British and Irish lions sort out the all blacks in June 2017. So that the Wallabies can sort the all balcks out in Sydney and Brisbane later on in 2017.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 7:23am
        watcher said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        Let the cartoons go. It was actually drawn by an Aussie. No worse or better than the “Ritchety Grub’ one from the previous year. If Cheika hadn’t lost the plot it would have been forgotten by now. Both parodied the team colours. Non event.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 10:55am
        Sam said | January 9th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        I can’t see an exhausted BIL team coming anywhere near to “sorting out” the All Blacks at home in NZ. Maybe one win?…

        As for the Wallabies sorting out anything at all, best to start with their own backyard first I would suggest.

      • January 9th 2017 @ 2:29pm
        piru said | January 9th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

        Let’s hope they can make it interesting.

        Anything else is a pipe dream

    • January 9th 2017 @ 7:08am
      richard said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      What I find amusing is you getting upset about a silly cartoon.I don’t recall kiwis being bothered with the “richety grub” cartoon in the lead in to the RWC final.Swings and roundabouts,bud.

    • January 10th 2017 @ 8:34am
      watcher said | January 10th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      As someone who ha followed NZ Rugby since the late 60’s I know that the Lions have a special significance in NZ Rugby. Everyone from players to supporters are up for these tours.

      The ‘blending’ of the various nations is so important. The English resurgence could actually work against the Lions as, particularly the Pom press will promote their players to the detriment of the other nations involved. That could cause problems.

      Depth will be so important in such a demanding tour. Form and injuries will have an effect. Really though from what I have seen depth should not be a problem. A well thought out playing strategy with players selected to fit those positions. That is why the 71 team won, they studied the tour in depth and had playing depth. They actually lost their two best Props from the tour before the first test. The only other change they made to the test team I remember was dropping John Bevan for David Duckham, not a bad replacement.

      The uncontrollable factor was not having many injuries after the Props was a big help. Also the incomparable Mike Gibson was in that team.

      Which ever way it goes it will be a hell of a tour, it always is. I just hope they don’t adopt a seige mentality like 2005 where they based themselves in Auckland and didn’t really ‘tour’.

      • January 10th 2017 @ 4:16pm
        Taylorman said | January 10th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

        Yes what didn’t help with the 71 tour was the exodus of players from Fred Allens 65-69 side after Vidanovich took over and by 71 they just hadn’t been replaced. 71-73 had some of the poorest AB sides where the NH had some of their strongest ever.

        By contrast look at the 69 Welsh side that thrashed all but France in the 5N and toured NZ contained all the legends that played in the 71 Lions side and were hammered by Lochores side in both tests.

        The Lions were too good, but the ABs were pretty poor as well, and they still only scraped in 2.5 to 1.5.

        That’s why I rate 74 as the best side. The Boks were a pretty good side then and got beaten easily.

    • January 10th 2017 @ 6:12pm
      Dcnz said | January 10th 2017 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

      The Lions play 11 matches in NZ and will lose all three tests. Then you have to predict how they will go in the other eight fixtures. You would think that at least two of the Canes/Crusaders/Chiefs/Highlanders games will be close so they could end up losing five of eleven.

      • January 10th 2017 @ 6:59pm
        Taylorman said | January 10th 2017 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

        Blues, Crusaders and Highlanders could field their All Blacks as they’re two weeks before the first test, but haven’t checked the Super draw.

        Chiefs and Canes are either side of the first test so they definitely won’t.

        First and third tests at Eden park makes it tough alright so as overconfident as it sounds, have to agree with you…3-0. By the time the Lions hit the first test they will have been put through a lot.

        • January 11th 2017 @ 8:45am
          Highlander said | January 11th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

          HNY T-man
          ABs will get together two weeks before the first test so Highlanders likely to be short their ABs too is my current understanding.

          I would let the boys play, sticking a loss Or two on the Lions before the tests start could kill their tour before it starts.