Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 2013 Lions

Its Warren Gatland's team.  Not much doubt about that. He knows what he wants and he's picked men who he thinks will deliver it. Choosing Sam Warburton as captain was the biggest call of all. No question that he's a wonderful player and the most balanced 24 yr old I've ever seen grace the captain's armband. Personally, I'd have gone for O'Connell, but its not a point to argue over.  Sam is an easy man to develop a loyalty to.

Surprises are in the front row. While the test team will probably be all Welsh (for first 60 minutes of each test at least), the supporting cast were unexpected. I thought Rory Best would have been selected, but I suppose I was still mesmerised by the first 40 he played against Wales. Where did the Matt Stephens pick come from.  No-one saw that. Paul James can feel a bit miffed.

Second row and back row as expected - once assessment that Dan Lydiate was fit factored in. Ryan Jones unlucky and Robshaw might have made it but for the 30-3 capitulation.  There will be a big question about who plays 7 in the test team. I suppose it has to be Warburton now, but would not be surprised to see Tipuric in for 3rd test.

No surprises at half back, though media is wetting itself over Wilkinson - and making itself look thoroughly silly. Nothing wrong with taking two No 10s, but I would have expected a Hook or Twelvetrees just in case a third is needed. I think Priestland would have been Gatland's man if he'd stayed fit through the season.

Behind the scrum picked themselves except for Maitland who was a bit of a surprise - though a few sharp rugby men had been giving him the nod.  Really pleased to Tommy Bowe deemed fit enough. All in all, not a bad squad, and very much Gatland's men. I think they'll do well.

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