It’s been a couple of days now, and there’s been a lot of comment, but here’s my tuppence on the B&I Lions squad going to Oz
1) the whole Wilkinson debate shows there isn’t an outstanding fly half in our region. If one of the 4 nations had a Dan Carter that can make line breaks as well as pass, tackle and kick we wouldn’t be talking about a man that played his best rugby with Greenwood or Catt. Wilko remains a good defensive 10 behind a dominant pack, but his significant lack of pace means he’s not a viable test 10 anymore.
2) Heaslip should buy Murray a drink. OK so I support Munster, but Heaslip has had a bad year. Surely the only reason he’s going to Oz is that Gatland likes big scrum halves and 8-9 partnerships. If Murray is a smaller Mike Phillips but still a big 9, he has to play with a known partner at 8, and that’s Heaslip.
3) Dylan Hartley v Rory Best? Feels like a personal hunch from Gatland. The man is one of the best coaches in last 20 years so clearly knows more than me, but I really don’t get this one.
4) Hogg on hard grounds? Get him in somehow. Great counterattacker, will be exciting and effective, but for me is 3rd 15 behind 1/2penny and Kearney. Maybe on the wing, or, gulp, 10?
5) rugby is not a simple game. Gethin Jenkins can’t get a game at Toulon but is playing for Wales and the Lions. Andrew Sheridan is now a hero in SE France and has played 30 games + for Toulon, but is finished internationally. Who would the Oz front row prefer to face?
In conclusion I was a little deflated. I’m not convinced we have game breakers compared other tours, or compared to the Oz team. I think the Lions have a great chance as isn’t an iffy Oz team. Where’s the Guscott, roadber, Teague, Johnson, Gibbs, Jones and Johnson, all Lions greats, or last minute heroes such as Matt Dawson or Jeremy Davidson?
I can’t wait, and nor can my boy, but I’m not as hopeful as I was for the Sth Africa tour. Now that was sport.