British & Irish Lions - the Exiles thread

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Post by George Carlin on Wed 20 Mar 2013, 12:17 pm

Thought it was worth an ongoing thread about our exiles and what their realistic chances are of getting on the plane.

I have just taken the more commonly discussed players and they are in no particular order:

1. Name: Steffon Armitage
Honours: England – 5 caps
Position: Openside
Club: Toulon
Club’s current league placing: 1st
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Tipuric, Warbuton, Robshaw
Thoughts: The tough crowd at Midi Olympique named him as the Top 14 Foreign Player of the Season in 2012. His form has been excellent this year too, borne out by the fact he’s played almost every game. He’s in one of the stiffest categories of specialist, however and Lancaster’s refusal to select him may prove costly. He will certainly be involved in the business end of the season, however and Gatland will be watching.

2. Name: Nathan Hines
Honours: British & Irish Lions – 2009 tourist, Scotland – 77 caps
Position: Lock
Club: ASM Clermont Auvergne
Club’s current league placing: 2nd
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Parling, Evans, Ryan (assuming ‘enforcer’ style)
Thoughts: Keystone of the Clermont bad boys pack, he is in form of his career. Is he too old at 36 to be of interest, or did Simon Shaw’s appearance shatter these preconceptions? Has not yet formally confirmed he wishes to be selected – announcing his retirement from “international rugby” was thought to be a reference to Scotland only. Would be a solid choice in the role of enforcer and will be facing off against an in-form Ian Evans and Geoff Parling. Again, will almost certainly be involved in the glory end of the season with 5 Top 14 games still to be played.

3. Name: Jonny Wilkinson
Honours: British & Irish Lions – 6 caps, England - 91 caps
Position: Fly half
Club: Toulon
Club’s current league placing: 1st
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Sexton, Farrell, Biggar
Thoughts: I suspect one or two posters may already be familiar with this player so not a great deal of point in banging on. Is 33 too old for Gatland or is that experience the one thing that the current candidates for 10 are missing? His goalkicking percentages have risen again this season after a blip by his standards last year. Worth taking for what he brings to a touring party, alongside Sexton and either Farrell or Biggar? As another international retiree, is still to confirm he would play if selected.

4. Name: Lee Byrne
Honours: British & Irish Lions – 1 cap, Wales – 46 caps
Position: Full back
Club: ASM Clermont Auvergne
Club’s current league placing: 2nd
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Halfpenny, Hogg, Kearney
Thoughts: Vern Cotter is a big fan of Byrne who has played at some point in every game of their unbeaten Heineken Cup campaign and has scored a number of important tries. Gatland knows him, however, and this was still not enough for him to usurp Halfpenny for the purposes of this year’s Six Nations. There is a lot of competition in his category.

5. Name: Mike Philips
Honours: British & Irish Lions – 1 cap, Wales – 77 caps
Position: Scrum half
Club: Bayonne
Club’s current league placing: 11th
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Youngs, Care, Murray
Thoughts: Been a mixed season for him with his club but being involved in a championship winning side will surely have been enough for him to have secured one of the three scrum half slots. Still divides opinion as to whether his slower delivery will prejudice an attacking backline as a whole or whether his muscular, harassing style will be as successful against Cooper, Barnes or O’Connor in the 10 shirt as it was against the Boks in 2009. Undeniably outplayed by Genia in last year’s series so it will be interesting to see how he is used by Gatland this time.

6. Name: Luke Charteris
Honours: Wales – 30 caps
Position: Lock
Club: Perpignan
Club’s current league placing: 6th
Health status: Injured
Main Competition: Launchbury, Gray, AW Jones (assuming more mobile style)
Thoughts: Tore medial ligaments in his right knee against Montpellier in late December and whilst he is apparently taking part in aspects of training, would seem to be unlikely to make it to full fitness in time.

7. Name: Andrew Sheridan
Honours: British & Irish Lions – 2 caps, England - 40 caps
Position: Loosehead
Club: Toulon
Club’s current league placing: 1st
Health status: Niggles reported after Tolouse game, but believed to be fit
Main Competition: Healy, Corbisiero, Grant, Jenkins
Thoughts: May be seen to be pushing it at 33 years old but he has had his best unbroken run of match play in years, having the past 2 seasons largely free of any injury, thus making him a mainstay of the Toulon boiler room. There’s a lot of competition but the fact remains that the slower nature of the Top 14 and the artfulness of the average scrum means that the big feller can say he regularly plays against the toughest front rows around. Gatland has mentioned him occasionally in press announcements about his worries that the Top 14 grand final is on the same day as the Lions first game in Honkers.

8. Name: Delon Armitage
Honours: England – 26 caps
Position: Full back
Club: Toulon
Club’s current league placing: 1st
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Halfpenny, Hogg, Kearney, Byrne
Thoughts: Has been playing very well indeed but the fierce competition means he is unlikely to travel – his cause was not helped by his patchy disciplinary record – most recently the 8 week ban he received in January for dropping Pierre Berard on his head during a Heineken Cup game against Montpellier.

9. Name: Johnny Beattie
Honours: Scotland – 21 caps
Position: No. 8
Club: Montpellier Hérault
Club’s current league placing: 7th
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Faletau, Morgan, Heaslip
Thoughts: Seems to be on his way back from shoulder reconstruction to something approaching his 2009/2010 form when the Sydney Morning Herald reported him as being the best 8 in the northern hemisphere. After an injury-muddied start to the season, is now an extremely important part of the Montpellier loose forward trio, pushing Mamuka Gorgodze out of position to lock to accommodate him. Many feel that his fast feet and soft hands would suit the hard Australian surfaces and offers a different style to current favourite Toby Faletau.

10. Name: Gethin Jenkins
Honours: British & Irish Lions – 5 caps, Wales - 98 caps
Position: Loosehead
Club: Toulon
Club’s current league placing: 1st
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Healy, Corbisiero, Grant, Sheridan
Thoughts: A cameo in the 6 Nations became a starring role and his confident oppression of Dan Cole will not have gone unnoticed by Gatland and co. His experience (2 Lions tours now) gives him gravitas and therefore (the dull roar of standard press hyperbole notwithstanding) genuinely vice-captainship or captainship potential. Fitness may be a problem given lack of consistent game time at his club so his form will be monitored carefully until the end of the season. Temperament is perfect for big games, giving him some manner of distinction over Healy after his recent stomping spree.

11. Name: James Hook
Honours: Wales – 70 caps
Position: Fly half/utility back
Club: Perpignan
Club’s current league placing: 6th
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Everyone in the backline, really
Thoughts: Gatland’s position on the value of utility players will come to a head with Hook whom many feel retains an ability split games open but lacks consistency and occasionally does not make the percentage decisions. Has played well this season but the club itself has been disappointing by its own high standards which may result in the spotlight shifting to other players come the end of the season.

12. Name: Alasdair Strokosch
Honours: Scotland – 23 caps
Position: Blindside
Club: Perpignan
Club’s current league placing: 6th
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: O’Brien, Brown, Warbuton, Jones
Thoughts: Big Al has become a firm favourite in the south of France but most Scotland fans feel that he has never quite delivered on his big reputation and lacks the soft skills of Kelly Brown or the huge cardio of youngsters like Rob Harley. Sadly for Big Baldy, he occupies one of the most competitive slots and does not possess the same versatility as Brown, Warbuton or Ryan Jones. Difficult to see how he’ll make it.

13. Name: Gareth Delve
Honours: Wales – 5 caps
Position: No. 8
Club: Melbourne Rebels
Club’s current league placing:
Health status: Fit
Main Competition: Faletau, Beattie, Morgan, Heaslip
Thoughts: They like Gareth in Australia. Delve is the first non-Australian to Captain an Australian side in the Super Rugby Competition and has won a number of awards since breaking into the scene a year ago – including the club’s People’s Choice Award in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons and the Rod Macqueen Pursuit of Excellence Award. He has been required to take on more ball carrying responsibilities and has grown in strength and stature as a result. Very little indication has been given by Gatland as to whether he is paying attention to Super franchise players. In a relatively weak year for home nation 8’s being uninjured and/or in good form, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing in the world if Delve made the plane.

14. Name: Gavin Henson
Honours: British & Irish Lions – 1 cap, Wales – 33 caps
Position: Top Dog
Club: London Welsh (so technically, he’s an exile)
Club’s current league placing: 12th
Health status: Gorgeous, waxed, fully exfoliated
Main Competition: Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, cast of Jersey Shore
Thoughts: Likely to be cruelly overlooked.

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Post by funnyExiledScot on Wed 20 Mar 2013, 1:18 pm

What about Iain Balshaw??

Laugh

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Post by George Carlin on Wed 20 Mar 2013, 1:20 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:What about Iain Balshaw??

Laugh
Oh yeah. My bad. I just think that I wanted to make fun of Henson more. Run

Still:

Q. What have my mildly senile and irrationally angry Uncle Duggie and Iain Balshaw got in common?
A. Neither is going on the forthcoming Lions tour.


Last edited by George Carlin on Wed 20 Mar 2013, 1:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by funnyExiledScot on Wed 20 Mar 2013, 1:21 pm

I think Phillips and Jenkins will certainly travel, with Beattie in with a good shout.

Hines and Sheridan both outside bets. They certainly wouldn't let anyone down.

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Post by dragonbreath on Wed 20 Mar 2013, 1:38 pm

I almost hesitate to say this but given the options at 12 and how limited they are, I would love to see Henson in the squad. A couple of games to get up to speed and he would bring everything that is missing to the Lions attack.

There I said it.

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Post by funnyExiledScot on Wed 20 Mar 2013, 1:54 pm

dragonbreath wrote:I almost hesitate to say this but given the options at 12 and how limited they are, I would love to see Henson in the squad. A couple of games to get up to speed and he would bring everything that is missing to the Lions attack.

There I said it.

I think that's a perfectly valid view. Roberts and Barritt are fine players, but they are not playmakers, at least not to the same degree as Henson.

There are other options at 12 though if you're looking to improve on distribution and attacking capabilities: Luke Marshall, Matt Scott and Billy Twelvetrees, to name three.

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Post by George Carlin on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 8:20 am

This from Cleary in the Telegraph who seems to be convinced that anyone involved in the Top 14 final will not be a Lion:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/britishandirishlionsrugby/9950131/British-and-Irish-Lions-coach-Warren-Gatland-ends-Jonny-Wilkinsons-dream-of-one-last-tour-Down-Under.html

Couple of things:

1. This isn't actually what Gatland seems to be saying. There is no solid edict here - Wazza saying instead it would be "preferable" that everyone is on the plane to Honkers.

2. Presumably players could decide not to play in the latter club matches as Hines did in 2009.

3. That would be a strange state of affairs given Gatlans's previous insistence that places would be allocated to non-internationalists provided that they were playing well for teams which were proving to be successful in their domestic leagues.
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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 8:49 am

George Carlin wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:What about Iain Balshaw??

Laugh
Oh yeah. My bad. I just think that I wanted to make fun of Henson more. Run

Still:

Q. What have my mildly senile and irrationally angry Uncle Duggie and Iain Balshaw got in common?
A. Neither is going on the forthcoming Lions tour.

You might joke but Henson would be more use than Wilkinson on this tour.

We have plenty of world class goal kickers, few creative inside centres.

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Post by majesticimperialman on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 9:08 am

maestegmafia wrote:
George Carlin wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:What about Iain Balshaw??

Laugh
Oh yeah. My bad. I just think that I wanted to make fun of Henson more. Run

Still:

Q. What have my mildly senile and irrationally angry Uncle Duggie and Iain Balshaw got in common?
A. Neither is going on the forthcoming Lions tour.

You might joke but Henson would be more use than Wilkinson on this tour.

We have plenty of world class goal kickers, few creative inside centres.

You may well be right about the creative inside centres are concerned. But Gavin Henson today, is not the Gavin Henson of yesterday...His foot work in not like it used to be, is he really 100% match fit?

I really do not think that Gatland will pick Henson for the Lions tour. Surely their are better centres out their.

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Post by The Great Aukster on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 9:56 am

The Lions tour is a media circus and Henson is up there with the bearded lady as a sideshow attraction - he should definitely go. Louis Theroux could shadow him and report on the injustice of a misunderstood genius searching for a tanning studio in the Melbourne backstreets.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 10:08 am

Would be a solid choice in the role of enforcer and will be facing off against an in-form Ian Evans and Geoff Parling

Parling is in no way shape or form an enforcer. He's a top lineout technician with a great work rate but is not a grunt merchant ala Hines. Hence why he's normally paired with either Deacon or Slater at Tigers.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 10:11 am

majesticimperialman wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:
George Carlin wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:What about Iain Balshaw??

Laugh
Oh yeah. My bad. I just think that I wanted to make fun of Henson more. Run

Still:

Q. What have my mildly senile and irrationally angry Uncle Duggie and Iain Balshaw got in common?
A. Neither is going on the forthcoming Lions tour.

You might joke but Henson would be more use than Wilkinson on this tour.

We have plenty of world class goal kickers, few creative inside centres.

You may well be right about the creative inside centres are concerned. But Gavin Henson today, is not the Gavin Henson of yesterday...His foot work in not like it used to be, is he really 100% match fit?

I really do not think that Gatland will pick Henson for the Lions tour. Surely their are better centres out their.


Made that reply is startling, not one spelling mistake or misuse of grammar or punctuation. Remarkable stuff, congratulations. Really impressed.

Re your reply. Henson is not the wonderful player he was in his early twenties. Still a blending good player and to be honest not a bad alternative to the inside centre options.

I wouldn't fully discard him yet.

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Post by Glas a du on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 10:12 am

Read Gatland's comments today - if they are involved in the French Play Offs they won't be going i.e. nobody from Toulon...
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Post by George Carlin on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 11:37 am

Glas a du wrote:Read Gatland's comments today - if they are involved in the French Play Offs they won't be going i.e. nobody from Toulon...
So that's Beattie, Hook and Phillips safe, then. OK

Hines, Wilco and Steffon a bit fecked, it would seem.
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Post by Glas a du on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 12:53 pm

Unless he's 'playing mind games'.

Very Happy
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Post by George Carlin on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 1:00 pm

Gatland and Keyser Söze.

Probably never seen in the same room. Shocked
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Post by Glas a du on Sun 24 Mar 2013, 2:13 pm

Everybody be cool, this is a squad announcement.

ANY OF YOU Frak Tinkywinky MOVE AND I'LL EXECUTE EVERY MOTHER Frak LAST ONE OF YOU!
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