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Think Underhill will miss out through injury- hasn’t played a test since ANC

The Lions have a selection headache

Well put- if this was said three months ago, maybe this would be spot on. Sadly, Daly has missed-tackled his way out of selection. It has come to the point where I suspect Gatland will weigh his defensive liability more than his long range goal kicking. Love the trio of Irish beef- all three needed and proved warriors. May suffered from a poor team so doubt Gatland will be convinced. Manu (surely) won’t have enough games to prove himself- time will tell. Your summary of Scotland benefitting of England’s misfortune is spot on- Gatland even publicly admitted there likely would be more Scots rather than Anglos and Gatland will probably not think twice about rejecting Englishmen on poor form.

The Lions have a selection headache

Very true- but would you say that those factors are still most well dealt with with the players mentioned?

Leathering it: Who has the biggest boot in world rugby?

Who plays 10 if Pollard can’t? Jantijes? Steyn? Le Roux? Kolbe? Morne?

Are the Springboks ready for the British and Irish Lions?

True- Ireland inflicted England’s worst defeat since the WC Final and probably worst defeat of the Jones era- beaten physically, mentally and outdone at the ruck. The Wales game was tinted by refereeing errors, the Scotland game was a one off given how close it was despite them dominating England. But the Ireland game was a comprehensive thrashing

Are the Springboks ready for the British and Irish Lions?

Theoretically, he shouldn’t be. However his defence is solid and actually had a good try scoring record when he played there. Just not a long term place for him

Dethroning the kings: An ultimate XV to beat the Boks in South Africa

Not many more players that have such a sound and beautiful technique like Labuschagne does

Two years ago today, Marnus Labuschagne changed forever

True. But let’s be real, Italy would beat Georgia comfortably however woeful they were this year. Georgia are talked about having a fearsome pack, yet in the ANC, their scrum was decimated by England. Their backline depth needs a lot of work; to me it seems their backs are just simply not up to Tier 1 Test status. The solution to improving their rugby is perhaps by allowing Italian, Georgian and Romanian teams to regularly compete in the French championship, which causes another logistical head ache. Having said how woeful Georgia were, they are a work in process and perhaps it is unfair to base their performances on the ANC.

How European rugby can solve the Georgia dilemma

Cracking article. It seems that there is a knock on effect- changing Italy’s role means you change Georgia’s role and then you bring in Europe. Like you’ve done expertly, you need to realise the whole view of Japan, Americas and the Pacific Islanders who need loving too. On an international level, every tournament needs to be adjusted.
-5 nations with removal of Italy or original 6 nations- take your pick financially
-Euro nations of Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Russia, Georgia, (Italy if you choose 5N)and Romania.
-Americas-Oceania Cup with USA, Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Samoa and Tonga
Expanded Rugby Championship with NZ, SA, Aus, Fiji, Arg and Japan

How European rugby can solve the Georgia dilemma

They lost both games to England in the World Cup. Only made the semis by luck of rain otherwise Pakistan were a run in for it. The test series in the UAE was a draw, including a win by 4 runs. Australia went there without their two best batters and lost 1-0. Outside of a green top, NZ’s fragile batting and non-existent spin won’t get them anywhere. They’re no pub team like the Windies, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan but aren’t a dominant powerhouse like India.

A summer of excellence for the Black Caps: Part 1

I think the main issue on Bosch is his defence

Who makes South Africa's squad for the Lions Series?

Forget flat track bullys- NZ are the new green top bullies. Playing mediocre, sorry teams at home like Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are all well and pretty for the results book. They may have beaten England and India on some green tops, but away from home in Australia, England and India will only then show how good they supposedly are. The last showings in Aus and India were all whitewashes, appalling considering how dead the Australian wickets were.

A summer of excellence for the Black Caps: Part 1

Banks just doesn’t back himself at International level. Dulin, who had been playing awesomely for a while, had an error-strewn game against Scotland and costed them a 4-1 record. At 5’9 he is someone to target before France play Ramos, Bouthier and co there.

Who lines up for the Wallabies' first Test against France?

Travis Head is past it. Can only play pretty 30-50’s

Why Steve Smith should not be Australia’s Test captain

In those 4 slots, tell me which Scots would do a better job. Itoje and Farrell go on merit and Lions experience. Gray is below the Irishmen and Itoje in terms of stock value. Russell has shown he can’t handle his nerve- his cards could’ve easily lost Scotland those games. Curry at 7 is a bigger option than Watson and Watson on the wing is inevitable given how much Gatland rates him.

Lions watch sequel: Selecting a full squad for the British and Irish Lions

I would pick Russell- I doubt Gats will or have him anywhere near the test team- Russell did trouble Dulin, but was it because his kicking was good or because Dulin had a shocker that night? Gatland will take and likely start Farrell on merit rather than form- he’ll look at the players who helped him in NZ – wouldn’t be surprised if Sexton plays too.

Lions watch sequel: Selecting a full squad for the British and Irish Lions

When I consider the fly half, I think of a player who could handle the targeting from Vermuelen, PSDT and Etzebeth best. Biggar has a solid kicking game and is one of the ‘bigger tens’ in Rugby. I do not want an exposed Sheedy, Ford and ageing Sexton being constantly pummelled by the South Africans like the World Cup Final yielded. I think Biggar is becoming more of the safer option.

Lions watch sequel: Selecting a full squad for the British and Irish Lions

I think 2/3 of the back three will be naturalised full backs- Williams and Hogg are necessary to defuse bombs from de Klerk, Pollard and Le Roux. LRZ, Watson and Adams all in for contention for the final spot. I think Beirne and Itoje should start together- Beirne is a menace at the breakdown and at 6, won’t concede the sort of penalties Maro will hopefully.

Lions watch sequel: Selecting a full squad for the British and Irish Lions

I think May has lost a yard of pace-I thought Adams was awesome this year and he was the top scorer at the RWC. Adams can play 15 too which is handy.

Lions watch sequel: Selecting a full squad for the British and Irish Lions

Very true- when I think of Van der Merwe playing against the Boks, he will likely get the same reception Kevin Pietersen received when he came back to South Africa all those years ago in the ODI Series.

Lions watch sequel: Selecting a full squad for the British and Irish Lions

I really don’t know how good Ryan is- for me he is nowhere near as noticeable as an Itoje,Lawes, Henderson or Beirne

Lions watch: Selecting a forward pack to take on the Boks

From 2018 onwards, their pack was very good- it just hadn’t spent a lot of time on the playing field. Regardless of how skilful their pack is, they have comfortably the best set piece in the world. But yes, maybe the WC final only covers up the ability of whether the Boks can play a game not decided or influenced by set piece dominance. France is probably the most likely team that is able to match the Saffers in terms of size, but their line out and scrum is not as secure. Ireland have a very solid line out and scrum too that I would like to see against the Boks, but they definitely don’t have the size to convincingly compete in my opinion. NZ and Australia can only really beat the Boks with attacking genius. It leaves a full strength England and Wales the likely teams with their impeccable defence systems that I think would cause the Boks some serious issues providing they hold their weight at scrum time.

Lions watch: Selecting a forward pack to take on the Boks

Agreed- Itoje or a lock hybrid at 6 is the only way to barely keep up with the Bok beef. Itoje does need to hone his penalty count- however borderline and well intended his actions that lead to penalties are, he has cost England considerably in being the wrong side of the referee against Scotland and Wales. Your article on the three minutes of where Maro lost the World Cup sprang to mind when mentioning the importance of him to step up against the likes of PSDT, Etzebeth, De Jager, Snyman, Mostert and co.

Lions watch: Selecting a forward pack to take on the Boks

I can’t name many more players that hit harder than Sam Cane. But yes, you’re right, since 2017 Squire was the only 6 who had the bastardry for playing there. Frizzell hasn’t been able to convert SR form. I think Whitelock is inconsistent however much of a legend he is. Scooter is a fair option at 6 but Akira Ioane and Liam Squire should be given their chances this season.

Lions watch: Selecting a forward pack to take on the Boks

I have to disagree Geoff- Hooper was phenomenal in the 2015 WC and deserves being talked as one of the best flankers in the world- his role has changed from a fetcher to having to do more carrying due to weaker locks and no certain 6 for the Wallabies for the last few years.

Lions watch: Selecting a forward pack to take on the Boks