Who should start for the lions?
The British and Irish Lions tour is one of the most exciting moments of the year for rugby fans. The British and Irish unite to play 8 games, 3 of which are against reigning world champions ‘South Africa’. Considering Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland are amongst the best teams in the world in their own right, it makes them a force to be reckoned with when they join forces. An exciting six nations must have given Warren Gatland a lot to think about. There is without a shadow of doubt, some hard decisions coming his way.
The Lions Front row
1 – Cian Healy (Ireland) – Loosehead prop
2 – Ken Owens (Wales) – hooker
3 – Tadhg Furlong (Ireland) – Tighthead prop
It may surprise some that this isn’t a full England front row. Props Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler have been great over the years, however the three listed above have been different class and at this present time are more deserving of their spots.
With both props being from Ireland, this will help create a bit of synergy in the scum. Ken Owens has come into his own even grabbing two tries in a dominant win over Italy. Each of these players have played in the Lions team before so will know what to expect.
4 – Jonny Gray (Scotland) – Lock
5 – Maro Itoje (England) – Lock
This is a position that I struggled with the most as there is so much depth. Starting these two means no James Ryan, Courtney Lawes or Alun Wyn Jones who are all incredible players in their own right.
Jonny Gray is a tackle machine, who in his club career with Glasgow made 993 tackles and only missed a mere 13. He also has went under the radar despite the fact he performs a ridiculous amount of clear-outs. Maro Itoje is also without a doubt an amazing rugby player and has incredible natural athletic ability. Unfortunately for him this six nations has been one to forget in terms of the ridiculous amount of penalties he has conceded, which for sure has knocked him out of the captain battle.
The Lions Back row
6 – Tom Curry (England) – Blindside Flanker
7 – Hamish Watson (Scotland) – Openside Flanker
8 – Taulupe Faletau (Wales) – 8
Other than number 8 position which speaks for itself, I found 6 and 7 difficult to choose as there are so talented flankers available. Picking these three sadly leaves out Sam Underhill and Peter O’Mahony.
Tom curry is a great player at turning the ball over and is a menace at the breakdown. Curry is also fairly capable with the ball in his hands and i think he would work well and compliment the side alongside Watson. Watson plays as if he is made of rubber as tacklers simply bounce off him. He is an incredibly physical player making him a powerhouse to deal with for the opposition. Faletau has enjoyed an incredible six nations, being apart of a currently unbeaten Welsh team. He has struggled with a few injuries over the years, however, with the recent retirement of CJ Stander who in my opinion was the only person giving Faletau a run for his money, there’s not much competition for his place.
9 – Connor Murray (Ireland) – Scrumhalf
10 – Finn Russell (Scotland) – Flyhalf
11 – Josh Adams (Wales) – Left Wing
12 – Owen Farrell (England) – Inside center (captain)
13 – Garry Ringrose (Ireland) – Outside center
14 – Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales) – Right Wing
15 – Stuart Hogg (Scotland) – Fullback
The number 9 jersey is really up for grabs with the likes of Ben Youngs picking up his game recently. Gatland will have to be keeping a close eye on club rugby in order to decide the 9 jersey. This is not to say that Murray isn’t deserving of the jersey although a bit off form at the moment. Murray still possess the ability to manage a game and is also a good runner and an excellent box kicker.
There are few players who can make you fall in love with a sport, Finn Russell is one of those players. On his day he is arguably the best rugby player in the world doing things that the majority of players wouldn’t even attempt. A good six nations and a great start to his Racing 92 career where the attack has been built around him, has now shown his maturity and has earned the number 10 jersey.
Joint third for most tries scored in the six nations so far Josh Adams has been the second top scorer for Wales only second to the other winger in this team. An extremely instinctive winger who is not only a great finisher but also great on the highball and defensively.
Owen Farrell at 12 may seem an interesting decision to some, however, keep in mind he plays here for England. Having the most coachable player in world rugby next to Finn Russell would be a dangerous partnership. I also have Farrell as my captain despite some concerning moments against the Italians. Farrell still went on to lead his team to a win against six nations favourites France.
Ringrose is a solid centre who has been playing well recently. Although i was tempted to put George North in here as he has been a Lions player before. North would bring a lot of experience to the team even though i do think Ringrose is the better player.
Although Louis Rees-Zammit has just turned 20 in early february he has had an incredible six nations, being the joint top scorer – averaging a try a game. He not only has speed, he is also a pretty good defender. He showed this when he caught an interception and ran essentially the length of the park to score. I did consider England’s Johnny May and Anthony Watson, although with Gatland being a former Welsh coach i think Zammit gets the nod.
Stuart Hogg is in my opinion the only scotland player that is guaranteed a start for the Lions. He has done well adapting to the captain’s role for scotland. He is also an outside chance as the Lions captain. Hogg is an incredible kicker from hand and also has an incredible step on him.
Let us know who you would have in your British and Irish Lions team!
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