Potential Lions, 1 year out. FB + wings + OC + IC

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Potential Lions, 1 year out. FB + wings + OC + IC Empty Potential Lions, 1 year out. FB + wings + OC + IC

Post by ChequeredJersey on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 1:21 am

I Usually I hate this kind of thing, but I thought it would be fun to do with some holistic exploration... I'll be adding in other positions over time

I know it's a year out, but I thought I'd do, not a Lions squad, but a review of the likely potential players who could tour for the Lions, what they can add, how they are doing and whether they are currently likely to make it and what they might have to do to get a chance, to help look at the variables and the overall make up of a possible squad with players covering each other's weaknesses and aiding their strengths.

Starting with the Fullback shirt.

From England:
The incumbent, Mike Brown.

His form is currently relatively poor, though his tackle breaking and man-committing runs are unique amongst the contenders. Big but inaccurate left boot. Usually very strong in the tackle and in form a great positional defender, but seems off the pace recently and not been as sharp in his positioning. A rock under the high ball, he adds very well done basics at FB and someone to get go-forward in attack but still can be selfish or shortsighted with his pass and his form is not enough right now to merit selection
Chances: currently slim and holding onto the England shirt on credit and the previous weaknesses of his rivals, but if he has a good club season and keeps the England shirt he adds a different option at 15.
Good for: adding carrying and solidity to a smaller, agility based backline.


Alex Goode:

The European player of the year, in great club form but has flattered to deceive when it comes to Internationals. Goode has improved his game at the back and in the air but it is still variable. He does however, more than any other British or Irish option, offer a playmaker role coming into the line whilst being a specialist Full Back. Falls off tackles, but can trick defenders with his step and a very good kicker, extra points kicker and slick distributor and playmaker of the ball

Chances: slim without the national shirt, but if he plays well next season his form this season would still keep him considered.
Good for: adding more playmaking to a power-based backline


Anthony Watson:

Currently a winger, and a prolific one, for England but a FB at Bath. He has pace to burn, and is more outright a threat in attack than England's other options. But he can be exposed positionally at wing, so the untested position of FB at Int level is a risk. His kicking game is not his strength, and he can be prone to selfishness with the ball like Brown. However, a behemoth claiming attacking ball in the air and a great finisher. The question is, are his skills wasted at FB?

Chances: currently he will go and press for a starting place in NZ but where? I'm not sure we have 2 wingers better than him.
Good for: scoring tries at international level


Delon Armitage:

IMO a douche, but still a good and rounded rugby player. Is possibly the best kicker of the English choices, a powerful carrier but more agile than Brown and though he doesn't have the obvious strengths of the other players, he has few weaknesses. The LIons don't follow the RFU selection rules. However, it is hard to see him as a team player, generally acknowledged as an important factor in Lions tours due to the need to bond and get on the same wavelength quickly.

Chances: Poor, mostly due to non-rugby reasons, fitting in with the team seems to be of huge importance to most Lions' coaches.
Good for: utility cover, long range kicking (but better options there- see Hogg and Halfpenny).

Others:
Elliott Daly: being used as a centre at the moment but can play FB and may do this weekend off the bench, and has done well there for the Barbarians. Pace, a huge boot, but with him playing in another position right now he would need exposure at 15 next season to be considered. Could be a utility back bolter.
Chris Pennell: all around good player, but you feel has slipped off the radar too much to feature even for England.
Matt Tait: Very good in the air and still cuts nice lines despite losing his pace, but again out of the frame really.
Mike Haley:had a good AP, and looked very good for the Saxons, offering a great option coming into the line. But not yet very established, would be a huge shock.
Jack Nowell: can play here but mostly a winger, so seems less likely than Watson that he'd move to here
Danny Cipriani: can also play at FB but will be a FH mostly at Wasps and would be a bold move to bring him back from the international wilderness in a definitely secondary position for him.

Ireland:

Incumbent: Jared Payne:

Payne has largely played 13 for Ireland but has been very strong for a while at 15 for Ulster and before that in NZ. Payne is excellent under the high ball and a very good defender. He would be controversial as another kiwi playing AGAINST the All Blacks for the LIons. He has a very suitable skill set that fits in a lot of approaches and covers 13, but recently has lacked a bit of flair and is relatively untested at FB for Ireland.

Chances: very good of touring, I think, with his 13 cover, but don't think he'll start.
Good for: Utility, safe at the back

Rob Kearney:

a Lions veteran but sadly injury prone and out of form these days. Once the undisputed king of the air and a runner of cutting lines but has lacked zip for years. However, at his best he has the talent to be the best FB in the NH, the sight of him chasing his own Garry Owen a fearful one for opponents.

Chances: poor on form, but ex-Lions always stand a good chance, so a decent run in right at the end may be enough.
Good for: experience on these kind of tours.

Tiernan O'Halloran:

a reliable performer in a surprising and excellent and attack minded Connacht backline. Complete novice at International level and hard to see him being picked without any experience, but Lions do take bolters and he has the talent to be one.

Chances: slim, but a second good season with Connacht and a few caps would give him a chance.
Good for: raw counterattacking and aerial strength.

Simon Zebo:

often plays wing but being used more and more at FB by Schmidt. Has a mazy running game and pace that can punish any side in space or coming into the line, and a solid kicker, but IMO variable in the air and in defence. Also has Lions credentials, but may be seen as more of a wing option

Chances: reasonable, with 50-50 chance as to whether he plays wing or FB.
Good for: splicing apart defences

Ian Madigan: Madigan is a FH but covers 12 and 15 and does add a controlled option with a good playmaking eye at FB, but if he comes (which is certainly possible) it'll be as bench option covering several positions
Andrew Conway: on the fringe of the Ireland squad, but not quite breaking through, and more often a winger. Needs Munster to have a great season to stand a chance at all
Robbie Henshaw: used to play FB, very well, but so well established at centre, he has a great chance of touring but won't play FB baring an emergency
Craig Gilroy: Can play 15 but like many here, more suited to winger and needs to become Ireland’s first choice there.

Scotland:

The Incumbent: Stuart Hogg:

Hogg went on the last tour, bizarrely played at 10 (an inexplicable waste of a slot and of Hogg). Hogg is fiery (more so than Brown) and can be caught out by this, but is lethally fast, a natural counterattacker and has a huge boot he uses very well. I don't think he's a good defender, but he seems to have some leadership qualities and is a boon to any team in attack. And can kick goals if needed.

Chances: very high unless he gets injured or completely drops off.
Good for: running the ball back, long long kicks

Sean Maitland:

another kiwi born player, 4 years ago Maitland was a slick attacker who couldn't defend at international level. Now he has lost his attacking mojo and improved his defence and catching. However, he seems like a player that could get his form back at Sarries, who will surely give him a lot of chance to practice his finishing and become Strettle (the Saracens' version) mark 2. Which could be handy at this level, as he has the skill to match against New Zealanders and the experience in facing them, but more on the wing

Chances: mixed. Needs to integrate well at Saracens, but I think he will start scoring tries again and be in the mix.
Good for: actually, at Glasgow, facilitating others in attack

Others;
Peter Murchy: I know nothing about this guy, which bodes poorly.
Tom Brown: a solid player but not near the level or potential of most of the others on this list.
Tommy Seymour: definitely more of a winger

Wales:

The Incumbent: Liam Williams:

always showed talent but has grown into the real class in Wales' backline, with neat hands, strong running and a good, if sometimes a bit illegal, defender. Also very good in the air. Still can be hot-headed, but adds magic to some games and rarely plays badly. Probably, on current form, the best FB in the NH right now for me.

Chances: very good that he will tour, I think he fights Hogg for the starting 15 slot on current form.
Good for: offloading to the inside man whilst sucking in defenders on the wing. Really good at this, weirdly.

Leigh Halfpenny:

A Lions legend already, when he was fit he was the best kicker in the world for me, in terms of distance and consistency. However, frequently injured and despite once being a quick and dangerous attacker, this aspect of his game has fallen off as he bulked up. He still has those attributes but we never see them used. A very brave defender in the air and ground, though his technique and size put him at risk.

Chances: if he is fit, a good chance but really ought to be getting some gametime.
Good for: his attitude and example and his goalkicking.

Rhys Patchell:

playing 15 vs the All Blacks this weekend and a talented young payer, but at Int level seems better suited to 10 to me. A good passer and kicker, but I'm not sure he will have the impact needed running the ball back and the defensive positional nous.

Chances: could well tour, but as a 10 option, and needs to take this chance for Wales first as he has top players ahead of him even for them.
Good for: playing 10

Matthew Morgan:

quick and a flair player who also covers 10 (and arguably better?), "nipper" is a mercurial player, who could come off a bench to change a game but at his size and defence I would rather not see him start against NZ

Chances: moderate, as a utility player.
Good for: being a smaller, Welsh Quade Cooper - could go very well but a risk

Others:
Dan Evans: not a bad player, but can't see him getting ahead of Patchell never mind Sanjay or Pence.
Hallam Amos: has looked vulnerable at FB, like others in this list he is a better winger
James Hook: a utility option but I've never rated him at FB and looks like his Int career is dead.
Dan Fish: See Evans. Repeat.
Jordan Williams: classy in attack but not a great defender and has completely fallen off the radar, has the talent but unsure about the application and would need a huge season with Bristol

Next shirts – The Wingers

England:

Incumbent 1: Anthony Watson

Mentioned above for FB, wing is his place for me. A great try scoring record so far for England, pace to burn and a great step, and as good under the attacking high ball as anyone in my opinion (even Folau), Watson is an excellent balanced attacking winger, strong too, but his defence is flaky and he can be drawn in too much.

Chances: On the plane, probably. Could well start, he looks like he adds as much to the side as any other option and you seem to need a finisher and a 14.5 (half wing half fullback) in the side these days and he gives you both.
Good for: Scoring tries, still.

Incumbent 2: Jack Nowell

Also mentioned above, Nowell has an ability to break tackles that his frame wouldn’t lead you to believe he would. Generally has been solid in defence but has had a couple of poor games there. A powerful runner who complements Watson well and can cover 13 and 15 in a pinch.

Chances: decent, but there are currently a few in front of him.
Good at: barreling through traffic, scoring great tries when you forgot he is also fleet of foot.

Marlon Yarde

Coming back into some favour under Jones, Yarde is a powerful winger with outright speed when he gets outside and these days looks for a lot of work for Quins. His defence and workrate in defence is also a lot better. However, he does lack the magic touch of a few of England’s other wingers.

Chances: possible but seems quite unlikely.
Good for: a winger with a good balance of power and pace (diet George North)

Semesa Rokoduguni

Arguably the best player in a tricky season for Bath, and the one in their once daunting backline that played well no matter what, he also looked capable in his brief chance for England and very good in the recent Saxons tour wins. Very powerful and a strong defender, if direct, but not a lot of international experience.

Chances: I think he’d do well in the Lions but doubt he’ll be in the running.
Good for: 50+m wondertries, carrying power outwide.

Johnny May

The forgotten man of the English back 3, flaky in defence and the air but a devastating runner if he sticks to his new approach of running straight, and can cover a few positions. He has to come back from injury, which many before have struggled with, but last season he was a dangerous attacker (though I hate his jump into tackle approach) and can score tries that most other British and Irish wingers can only dream of.

Chances: hard to say. He needs to stay fit but if he does he has the verve to improve any team that uses him well.
Good for: running outside quick centres as if they are moving in treacle

Chris Ashton

Ashton is in great form and scoring tries again for Saracens, and is great at finishing and popping up in the middle of the field. His defence and attitude are still suspect, and seems to be seen as “hard to coach” by Eddie Jones, which is hardly in his favour.

Chances: If his attitude is deemed good enough, he has a chance to go even if England don’t pick him.
Good for: the inside ball in the opposition 22.

Christian Wade:

There are still question marks over Wade’s susceptibility to injury and his tackling (which looks pretty good at Premiership level considering his small size, but looked pretty dodgy in South Africa this summer). However, in attack he can create tries like few other outside backs, scores tries for fun in a match in which it all clicks and has ludicrous acceleration and swerving at speed.
Chances: he’s a unique winger alla Shane Williams right now and his ability to create tries from nothing will always give him a chance but his weaknesses are significant and will need covering.
Good for: creating a moment of magic with no warning.

Others:
Alex Lewington: been very good in a weak London Irish team but didn’t shine in his chance for the Saxons so would have a lot of work to do, esp with Irish relegated.
David Strettle: has done very well in France but hard to see him being in the minds of selectors enough to be picked.
Tom Varndell: very unlikely unless Bristol are immense and he has a miracle season.
Matt Banahan: a stalwart for Bath but lacking at International level.
Charlie Walker: too soon, too untested at the best level.
Manu Tuilagi: please not at wing
Mike Brown: PLEASE NOT AT WING!
James Short: good player, too many established in front of him. The same applies to Woodburn, Jess and Arnott
Charlie Sharples: seems his star has faded and his chance gone.
Zach Kibirige: the speedster may be an England player of the future but is nowhere near ready now
James Elliott: solid and dependable but not spectacular or “popular” enough to stand much chance
Tom Arscott and Will Addison: Both are Club level players for me.
Nathan Earle: like Kibirige, not ready yet.
Sam Smith: a good Club level player

Ireland:

Incumbent 1:
Andrew Trimble:

A good all around winger, with few flaws in my opinion, though not as flashy as many others. He’s a good defender and also a decent centre and will offer good cover even if he doesn’t start.

Chances: moderate, he would never let the side down and generally good at finishing his chances
Good for: having a decent game at everything.

Incumbent 2:
Keith Earls:

I have always envisioned Earls as a centre but he has done a pretty decent job at winger for Ireland and actually I think his speedy running and cover tackling but less than stellar head on defence plus his strong chip and chase game probably now suit wing better. Not my favourite player but has his strengths as noted above and has Lions experience.

Chances: as a previous tourist, inherently good.
Good for: chip and chasing

Simon Zebo:

Also a lethal winger, I expect him to go and get time at here and fullback at some point, even if only the midweek side. A mazy runner who can drift in and out of games but generates excitement with the ball.

Chances: good in some position
Good for: splitting apart defences
Craig Gilroy:

In very fine form for Ulster, and good at slipping through a defensive line, whenever I have seen him play he has impressed me, though he is seen as a backup choice for Ireland. Can cover 15 a bit and related to that good in the air for a winger. I think he’s one of Ireland’s better back 3 options but he has to get more international field time to really put a marker down.

Chances: ok, but currently not top 3 for Ireland
Good for: battling for kicks out wide.

Tommy Bowe:

An old master and a Lions hero in the past, Bowe when fit and up for it is still a lethal finisher and a good attacker in general. However his defence has looked shaky at best and he is struggling to stay healthy and sharp for long periods of time. If he stays fit he will always have a chance, but it looks less and less likely.

Chances: depends on fitness. Currently doesn’t deserve it but he’s a proven try-scorer.
Good for: finishing at top international games

Matt Healy:

The new kid in the Irish back 3 with good form for Connacht but only one cap so far. Has a good recent strike rate at Club level but haven’t seen enough of him at international level to know if he can carry it forward. He can also play FB.

Chances: pretty slim at the moment and has good players ahead of him for his country
Good for: coming in from deep to tear apart defences like he did against Grenoble this year.

Dave Kearney:

Looked to be an upcoming star a couple of seasons ago, as a strong defensive winger who could finish and make ground with powerful carries and in better form than his elder brother. However, his form seems to have tailed off a bit and Ulster and Connacht players are getting more limelight. Still has the skills to make it but needs to be starting for Ireland

Chances: not great right now, as the Irish back 3 has many options at winger, but could make it
Good for: Carrying and kick-chasing in the Schmidt gameplan

Luke Fitzgerald:

Seen by some as Ireland’s most gifted back, Fitzgerald has a wicked step, a dazzling instinct for jagged running lines and is good cover at 13 and 15. However, he is also made of Warburtonite and thus breaks very easily. His scoring record is also not as good as it could be. He has a previous Lion cap, which had a controversial moment in it.


Chances: good if he is fit. Again, a doubt, that.
Good for: sidestepping

Fergus McFadden:

The last Irish winger I have here, McFadden is not that young any more (but still not that old – 31 by next year’s tour) and recently in trouble after some poor tackling technique.  I have to say I can’t remember much about his actual play despite seeing him play a fair bit, but his National strike rate is ok-ish and his Club one is good, I can’t see him getting far enough ahead in the queue though.

Chances: unlikely with lots of competition
Good for: scoring points for Leinster, apparently


Scotland:

Incumbent 1:

Sean Maitland:

As mentioned earlier, Maitland can play wing or Fullback. I think he’ll play more wing for Saracens and Scotland, and will get a chance to get his Scotland shirt cemented again whilst getting a good opportunity to re-find his best finishing skills at pragmatic Saracens. His defence has improved a fair bit.

Chances: pretty good if he can start for Saracens
Good for: creating tries at Glasgow (before going to Irish)

Incumbent 2:

Tommy Seymour:

A powerful winger who is good at the kicking and high ball game too. He has been very reliable for Scotland really, with a knack for interception tries and a goo strike-rate and a good link up with Hogg.

Chances: a decent chance, he’s a winger who looks quite composed at international level
Good for: interception tries. But also finishing good team tries.

Sean Lamont:

An old warhorse, and warhorse describes him well- not the best hands, but high workrate and strong and determined. He’s lost a lot of pace and is now more of a reliable impact sub. Probably too old and past his best to tour.

Chances: pretty slim
Good for: giving his all and strength in the carry and tackle

Dougie Fife:

A good player, with the pace for 7s. Not had much chance for Scotland yet but plays well for Edinburgh. He can also cover 13 and 15.

Chances: with 3 Scottish back 3 players in the mix, very unlikely a 4th would be
Good for: scoring series winning tries in 7s

Others:

Damien Hoyland: a youngster who has impressed at age grade levels but not had a lot of chance to shine at a high enough grade yet. One to watch for the future.
Duncan Taylor: in good form at Saracens and Scotland and could link well with Maitland next year, but more of a centre ideally.
Robbie Nairn: rapid but not ready, a good talent for the future and 7s player
Ritchie Vernon: ex-flanker and I’ve seen him more at centre than wing. Good for filling in gaps but not Lions quality.
Rory Hughes: Has a Scotland Cap but has been playing for London Scottish and won’t be at this level yet
Lee Jones: Haven’t seen a lot of him lately. Brings a lot of pace but probably not the all around game and strength at the back or the sheer magic to make it

Wales:

Incumbent 1:

Liam Williams (as of time of writing):

Williams plays the wing well and was Wales’ best player of their New Zealand tour here, but FB is by far his best position. He may cover wing when needed but I expect him to go as a FB primarily.

Chances: very likely
Good for: being a fullback

Incumbent 2:

Hallam Amos:

Has looked vulnerable in defence and under the high ball, but dangerous in attack at times. Amos covers fullback as well and Gatland says that this is where he sees his future. He does have explosive speed which can punish anyone giving him space but is prone to some dodgy decision making.

Chances: With Halfpenny looking to make a comeback and Williams and North around, he’s going to have to fight hard for a place for Wales
Good for: punishing space

George North:

Looked in much better form in recent months for Wales and Saints and is still a monster in attack and a proven try-scorer with real speed. However, he has been a bit injury and concussion prone in particular, and his defence has been criticized. For his experience and sheer game changing ability and difficulty in stopping him, it would be hard not to pick him though and when he’s truly on form he is one of the NH’s best backs.

Chances: almost a cert to tour, pressing for a likely starting berth.
Good for: tries of all sorts- run ins, wondertries and smashing through the last defender.

Alex Cuthbert:

In vogue as of the last Lions tour, Cuthbert’s confidence has taken a huge hit and his form has slumped. In form he is a great finisher, better than North even, but his defence is dodgy at the best of times. In his current state he is a liability, even if there were sparks of recovery after the last 6 Nations at Club level.

Chances: slim realistically unless he turns things around
Good for: finishing chances

Leigh Halfpenny:

More of a fullback these days, but Halfpenny does cover wing and is arguably better used in attack there.

Chances: he’ll tour if fit and in form, more likely at 15.
Good for: world class kicking

Eli Walker:

Another pace-merchant but he has not impressed Gatland enough at camp evidently. He has the attacking weapons to be useful to a side with lots of ball, but I remain unconvinced by his defence and whether his attack makes up for it.

Chances: slim with better Welsh options
Good for: the attacking half of wingplay

Tom James:

Has been a good try scorer at club level wherever he has been, with a few scattered Wales Caps. He has some questions over his temperament with walking out on Wales in the past and verbal swordplay with his coach. A good player but not proven at International level and may have too much baggage. He does however have some potent acceleration and unpredictability.

Chances: see Walker
Good for: consistent try scoring thus far

Others:

Jordan Williams: talented but has fallen away from his early promise and has a lot of work to do
Keelan Giles: another young talent, very young, and too soon but we may hear more from him by 2021
Matthew Morgan: not ideally a winger
Aled Brew: has a fight for his Dragons starting jersey
Tom Prydie: a young talent who has pace and not yet fulfilled his early potential, too many ahead of him


Outside Centres

England

Incumbent:

Jonathan Joseph:
Has built his way up ahead of the likes of Manu to be one of the first names in the England team. Broke onto the scene with his fluent attacking, outside step and pace but recently we have seen this in only glimpses, though the potential to break a game wide open still remains. However, he has become the defensive glue of a robust England side and a very well balanced centre.

Chances: very good of touring, though 13 has some tough competition for a starting shirt
Good for: finishing tries and defending much better than his size would suggest

Mau Tuilagi:
Chronically injured and with a few flaws- he has quite good hands that he doesn’t use as much as he might, he’s not a subtle player and he can be impetuous in defence (see the England defence falling apart in NZ with Eastmond and Tuilagi together). However when fit and firing he is a difficult force to stop, a mix of pace, determination and raw power who breaks tackles and sucks in defenders. May well be trialled at 12 if he can remain fit.

Chances: If he gets enough gametime next year, I’d be amazed if he isn’t on the plane one way or another
Good for: Powerfully smashing apart defenses and sucking in men to put them on the backfoot.

Eliott Daly:
One of the club form players of the last season and a bit, and desperately unlucky to be behind really good players for his country. Has a huge and accurate boot, a lightning outside break and a propensity for the clever long pass outwide (with slick execution). A lovely step and a lot of raw speed, he’s a dangerous attacking option who gives an extra kicker over 50m and covers the back 3. However, there are a few questions about his straight up defence and he could do with getting a proper chance for England. Shone against the Lions for the Barbarians 3 years ago.

Chances: amazingly, with 2 other English 13s as well, still pretty decent as he adds a different, more pure pace related (and the boot) game to the others. But probably needs to steal the England shirt really.
Good for: outside breaks and huge kicks.

Henry Slade:
Chances reduced by a mediocre Premiership final, has yet another skillset for 13. Slade has also been touted at 10 and 12 and does appear to have the composure and potential for top level rugby. A solid defender, good decision maker in general, Slade also has a nice step and soft hands with a full passing repertoire and the kicking skills of a 10, and his utility cover make him useful. But he’s not that quick for an outside centre or that powerful and may work better as a second playmaker at 12.

Chances: OK, but needs to perform in a pressure environment.
Good for: Covering the midfield and adding another playmaker

Luther Burrell:
Burrell has recently played 12 in his underwhelming last few England caps, but at Saints largely starts at 13 and many think he is better suited there. A powerful runner, with a knack for finishing tries and much improved hands, Burrell’s biggest weaknesses are his dodgy defensive awareness and the fact that he is basically a diet Tuilagi.

Chances: Slim, others offer what he does better.
Good for: filling in for Tuilagi


Ben T’eo:
An import who is yet to start for England but made Jones’ tour squad and plays for Leinster where he started at 12 and 13 (not at the same time), T’eo has been in good form and is a strong defender and powerful carrier with decent hands. He has shown up well at Club level but NZ will feel comfortable playing him and has yet to get a chance at international level. He too is a bit “Manu Light”.

Chances: also slim, see above
Good for: see above but maybe more solid

Others: George Lowe of Harlequins improves his side whenever he plays acting as glue, but has no chance after injuries and established players ahead of him and his teammate, Matt Hopper, is not international quality and has faded a lot from 2 years ago.
Matt Banahan has England caps on the wing but really looks a good club player unable to step up further in both positions.
Henry Trinder is a livewire option at 13 but also always injured and too far down the pecking.
Billy Twelvetrees is more a 12 and though he has the skillset and has played well at times for England and could come into contention with improved consistency and a great season, he appears to lack the decision making needed for international rugby.
Matt Tait was a very strong 13 for England but has lost the verve and pace he once had and now plays more 15 and as a more solid and efficient option and I can’t see him making a comeback even though I doubt he’s let the Lions down.
Matt Smith is a club player, albeit a good one.
Brad Barritt is a 12 and his time is past – we need more in attack.
Nick Tompkins has the instinctive running lines and may well be a future England centre but is currently too green especially in picking options.
Harry Mallinder is more a 12 and it’s likely too soon for him.
Joe Marchant also looks a fleet of foot talent but needs more game time for Quins let alone England.

Ireland:

Incumbent:

Robbie Henshaw:
Henshaw has largely played, and impressed, at 12 for Ireland and may tour mostly as a 12 though he got his shot at 13 in SA. He has been tipped as the next BOD and though he is talented he is a different player really. He has a step which is underused at international level, and is a very strong defender and a good rucker. That’s where the similarities lie. Otherwise he is a more direct runner in general and very strong under the high ball. Can be used very well, but does have quiet games unlike BOD.

Chances: good chance of touring, likely playing 12 not 13
Good for: excellent kick chasing and aggressive defence

Jared Payne:
Payne also plays 15 but has mostly been a 13 for Ireland and has a lot of attacking talent as well as being a very strong defender indeed. Like Henshaw he is good in the air and in a kicking battle, and like Henshaw his attacking instincts haven’t been seen as much as I’d like for Ireland. He’s a very well balanced option and covering 15 helps him out.

Chances: likely tourist though unsure exactly where
Good for: kicking battles

Stuart Olding:
One of several talented Irish centres pushing for a spot and got his first proper bite (after a debut a few years ago) in South Africa. Olding can also play 15 and at a pinch a playmaker, but his career has been injury stricken. He has a wide range of skills, with really nice footwork, some playmaking and very good hands. A bit like Slade, for me, but a touch further along due to Ireland’s smaller player base. He’s small but a good decision maker which is important.

Chances: decent, he has the balanced skill set but needs to cement a centre spot for Ireland really
Good for: a centre who can play 2nd receiver and makes good decisions

Luke Marshall:
Marshall has been in and out of the Ireland squad, affected by a few concussions amongst other things, and looks (a bit like Olding but a slightly different player) to be more of a 12 to me. He is a powerful direct runner but also good at delayed passing and comes with good creativity for a strong runner. A very solid option at 12 but there’s a lot of competition at centre.

Chances: Ok, but needs to shine given the competition
Good for: a powerful carrier who can still add playmaking

Stuart McCloskey:
Another young centre who looks more likely to play 12 to me, McCloskey impressed against England in this year’s 6 Nations, and though raw is very powerful and uses his frame well in contact. He also hits hard in defence and has some real dog. Definitely not subtle and more a 12 though.

Chances: didn’t make the Ireland Tour squad so has to get some limelight in big games really
Good for: direct, confrontational running

Darren Cave:
Cave is more experienced than some of Ireland’s centres here, with a few scattered caps and Wolfhound appearances, also affected by recurrent injuries. He’s a solid player, another strong carrier and is very powerful in defence and very consistent for Ulster. However he seems to not be high up Schmidt’s list, possibly after some comments about the Ireland set up and Heaslip affecting perceptions of his attitude? Maybe a tad limited for the Lions.

Chances: seem pretty slim right now, but always does well for his club so he has time to make a case
Good for: good defensive centre

Garry Ringrose:
Espoused by O’Driscoll himself, a genuine tyro. Unlike most of these players, he is a clear 13 and has lovely footwork and a few passing tricks like his patron. He’s still young and inexperienced, but definitely has talent and from the little I have seen he has time on the ball too. It’s not unknown for very inexperienced players to go with the Lions but thus far he hasn’t really played with Leinster enough yet alone Ireland to be high up the list for me. I suspect he has a huge future though.

Chances: could go as a bolter but would be quite bold. Needs more experience
Good for: beautiful nimble feet

Others: Tommy Bowe is a fading but quality winger, and he can cover 13 but if he goes it will be at wing.
Keith Earls is a very similar situation, though has played a lot of 13, and I think will press hard for a tour spot as mentioned in the wing section.
Noel Reid is another talented centre for Leinster but he is a fly-half-style 12 and I can’t see him playing 13.


Scotland:

Incumbent:

Matt Scott:
The first of the “new wave” of good Scottish centres, Scott played 13 in Scotland’s last match but is a 12 primarily. He’s an understated player who makes good lines and has a fine array of passing without being flashy. He makes Scotland look a better side, but I think we’ll mostly consider him as a 12.

Chances: won’t be a 13 but in the mix at 12
Good for: playing 12, augmenting others

Peter Horne:
A real utility back, covering centres, fullback and flyhalf as needed, Horne has been a key player for Glasgow the past couple of seasons. He also adds kicking and goalkicking skills. He’s not a standout player in any of his positions but  a very handy squad player who can fill in gaps and do a job in a number of roles. This is always useful on a tour like the Lions but I don’t think he’s exceptional enough to tour.

Chances: slim unless it’s for broad cover
Good for: utility

Duncan Taylor:
Taylor also covers 12 and wing but is largely a 13 and has had a very good season for European Champions Saracens, keeping Bosch out of the starting 15 most of the time. He has had hard competition for a Scotland shirt, getting a few recent starts and covering off the bench and I think looking very good each time. Has a very solid set of basics but also an incisive runner. His work off the ball got him voted Saracens’ players’ player of the season this year, which speaks volumes.

Chances: decent. Saracens give a good chance to play in a winning side but needs more Scotland starts.
Good for: lots and lots of work in defence and off the ball

Richie Vernon:
Once a flanker but with his pace converted to a centre/winger. Vernon seems a pretty solid centre but not quite a natural here, and I don’t think he’ll be able to get ahead of the other Scottish centres, who are pretty strong at the moment.

Chances: unlikely
Good for: covering flanker

Alex Dunbar:
A powerful centre who looked set to have cemented a Scotland place but has been injured recently. He was a lynchpin for Glasgow, and whenever fit seems to be likely to start for the Scots. He has a good range of handling skills and an eye for a try but it’s his strength that seems to be his greatest asset and will always make yards in attack.

Chances: If he can get and stay fit he has a decent shot though Taylor, Bennett and Scott will all be gunning for the Scotland centre slots.
Good for: giving the midfield impetus

Mark Bennett:
I think more likely to play 13 to Dunbar’s 12 for Scotland as they do when both are fit for Glasgow. Scored a wonderful try against Australia in the RWC (and has a good club strike rate) and has the pace to play 7s (he tried for a Rio Team GB slot, he is a dangerous runner in the wide channels and as far as I’ve seen his defense is solid too. He looks a very good international centre to me (in some big matches) and will press for a place but as I’ve said before, 13 has a lot of competition.

Chances: pretty good, looks very dangerous though choosing Rio over the Japan tour could hurt his chances
Good for: finishing off tries with pace

Others: Sean Lamont is still a workhorse and warhorse but isn’t going to go on the Lions tour.
Huw Jones & Nick Grigg I must confess I don’t know much about, could any Scotland supporters enlighten me? Thanks

Wales:

Incumbent:

Jonathan Davies:
A previous Lion and very strong carrier, clever player and excellent defender, with an underrated step. However, the Wales midfield has recently (though JD2 looked good in NZ) seemed a bit stale and Foxy still has a weakness in his distribution. However, his experience, closeness to Gatland and power will put him in good stead. Could also cover 12, I think, and a very safe option.

Chances: very good for the reasons above
Good for: safe, steady and experienced

Scott Williams:
Some are calling for Williams to replace Roberts at 12 and he looks equally good at 12 and 13 to me. A decent turn of pace and also a powerful carrier and defender but a little less one-note than Roberts seems to be these days. His handling also seems decent if not slick and he has been pretty good at International level. Mostly famously in my mind, he had the opportunism, observantness and strength to rip the ball from Courtney Lawes in what was likely a Grandslam sealing try.

Chances: decent, though one suspects Roberts is still ahead in the order and he’s unlikely to start at 13 with Davies around
Good for: breaking English hearts

Tyler Morgan:
A young talented Welsh player, with only 3 caps so far, and looks to me to be the future 13 for Wales. I think he has the best distribution of the Welsh 13s, and he is a classy but still strong runner in explosive bursts. He is still a bit raw and I don’t think he’ll be ready for the Lions but he is certainly one to watch further down the line and if he gets some Wales caps this Autumn he might usurp a place in the Wales XV and have as  good a chance as anyone of touring.

Chances: possible but likely too soon
Good for: a nice balance between traditional power and more subtlety

Cory Allen:
Another player pressing for a Team GB 7s slot, and with a good chance, and a powerfully built centre with genuine pace, able to cover 12 or 13 (I expect eventually he’ll play 12 and Morgan 13). Stepping out of the summer tour for 7s may hurt his chances, but he has the tools to replace Roberts for Wales though he is a very different player. He has also just come back from a serious ankle injury so it’s unclear what his form might be like.

Chances: decent, but Williams, Davies and Roberts are likely ahead of him
Good for: pacy attacking runs



Others: Ashley Beck is a solid centre at club level but has a few ahead of him for his country.
Jonathan Spratt has caps but isn’t international standard and is unlikely to add to them.
Adam Warren will be fighting with Morgan and isn’t going to feature.
George North can play 13 but will be starting on the wing we expect.


Inside centres

England

Incumbent:

Owen Farrell:
Farrell is predominantly a 10 at club level (though he plays 12 and has played and indeed started at 13 for his club) and at international level but has recently had a surprisingly effective partnership outside of George Ford at 10, emulating their successful run together in the U20 team. He has been in good form in both positions and worked hard on his attaching structure and running which will never be world leading but is no longer a weakness. His tackling and kicking are big strengths but he can be impetuous and petulant on the pitch.

Chances: almost a certain traveller, whether he starts (at 10 or 12) is unclear.
Good for: kicking option and playmaker at 12.



Ben T'eo:
Was close to qualifying for Ireland but has switched allegiances to England. A powerful centre at 12 or 13 and one of Leinster's better players this season, and with decent hands. Was selected by Eddie Jones to travel to Australia but kept out by Farrell. Probably needs to get a shot for England and the Kiwis will know what to expect, so a bit of a diet Jamie Roberts in many ways.

Chances: ok, but can't help but feel others to the same thing but to a higher or more proven level.
Good for: hard carrying

Henry Slade:
Has the skillset for anywhere in the midfield, with a nice step, time on the ball, solid defence, a kicking (and goalkicking) game and lovely hands. Has dropped in the rankings a bit after a poor Premiership final but looked promising before the World Cup last year. A good playmaking option.

Chances: ok, needs to prove to Jones that he can perform under pressure and then get an England slot
Good for: playmaking and a second kicker, but more attacking ability than Farrell.

Manu Tuilagi:
Hasn't played much 12 but has been suggested as an option there and looked ok when he has featured. At 13, when fit (sadly rare in recent seasons) he is a wrecking ball with deceptive pace and underrated hands though can back himself rather than the pass a bit. Could develop into a Nonu style 12, but needs to play there regularly and lacks a kicking game.

Chances: good if he's fit
Good for: being an unstoppable force of nature

Billy Twelvetrees:
Appears to have all the skills he needs with good hands, a strong tackler and a huge boot. However, has lacked consistency for England and lost his place, and seems to lack decision making ability and composure that are vital for top level rugby. A shame because he is talented.

Chances: currently pretty low but if he improves on the weaknesses above who knows?
Good for: rounded skillset

Sam Hill:
The main 12 and "glue player" for Exeter, has a good carry and hands to put people into space. Sold defender. Not the flashiest player or even flashiest player at Exeter but has few weaknesses in the position and facilitates those around him

Chances: decent, works well with most options at 10 or 13, needs his cap
Good for: balanced reliability 


Brad Barritt:
Past his England years, Barritt always had the capacity to attack (see his SA rugby years) but we never really saw it for club or country. However, he was, until a dire stretch in the last World Cup, Mr Reliable with a rock solid and suffocating defence. It will take more than that to trouble the All Blacks.

Chances: slim, too limited
Good for: heroic defence

Kyle Eastmond:
Was vaunted at one stage but has dropped off, not being picked by Bath for whatever reason. Has wonderful footwork and can be lethal in attack but is going to lose ground even on successful tackles in defence and needs some power in the back line with him. Offers something unique and can probably be used very effectively but would be very anxious to watch in defence. EDIT: now at Wasps, where again he may not always work in the balance of the back line but should get lots of attacking ball - I'm intrigued as to how much chance he gets and think he'll look dangerous in attack but worried about his defence in a light back line.

Chances: if he can start regularly at his new club and get England time (which looks hard) then he could go as a different option but currently seems unlikely
Good for: jinking through a defence.

Luther Burrell:
Was afforded a second chance after harshly missing out on a World Cup place but didn't work against Australia. We have seen that he can be a good player from a few seasons ago, but at club level seems better at 13. Has probably lost his chance for England at this point, and his defence has been lax recently.

Chances: not great right now
Good for: power centre-ing

Ollie Devoto:
Close to Jones' England squad and looked decent for the Saxons, with good running and defence. Has strangely moved to Exeter where the competition to start at centre is much higher... He is obviously doing something to impress the coaches but seems a decent but non-spectacular option to me, and I think he'll struggle to start at Chiefs

Chances: obviously impresses his coaches but don't think he'll start at Exeter never mind the Lions.
Good for: covers a lot of options.

Piers Francis:
Fitting the current resurgence for a second playmaker at 12, Francis is a rare English player in the Super 15, and has been acting as a foil to West at the Blues playing 12. He also covers 10, and is getting a lot of praise for helping the Blues tick this season with his ability to make space and take the pressure off 10. Playing abroad, he's unlikely to get an England cap soon but will know the kiwi players well and stepping up at Super Rugby level is a big test. Could be considered as a bolter.

Chances: slim as he won't get international experience first, but if anyone is a non-capped pick he's the likely contender 
Good for: a second playmaker to take pressure off 10

Others: Harry Malinder at Saints has looked good at Premiership level and great at U20 level, and is clearly one for the future but this tour is one too soon to be realistic.
Similarly for the young Henry Sloan of Quins who has deputised for Roberts well but isn't International level yet.

Ireland:

Incumbent:

Stuart Olding:

A bit like a smaller Slade, Olding has nice feet and hands and is a clever player. He has been unlucky with injuries, but has the talent to be the Ireland 12 for a while. However, he also has a lot of competition there and really needs to cement that spot to stand a chance.

Chances: is in a good place but next tour more realistic
Good for: a balanced, skilful centre

Luke Marshall:

A more powerful option, as addressed in the 13 list, still with some deftness and looks a good solid 12 and has shown up well for Ireland in his chances so far. Like Olding he is not very established at International level yet so will have to fight for any spot. Would work well with a mobile, fleet of foot 13.

Chances: ok, like Olding needs to cement an Ireland spot.
Good for: powerful carrying but can play more creatively as well

Robbie Henshaw:
I think he's best at 13, where he last played, and also covers 15, but has mostly played 12 for Ireland. In this position his running has been less prominent but his kick chasing and defence has been fantastic. A very good player for me, and should travel to play either centre spot.

Chances: good and will press to start.
Good for: kick chasing and tackling but with a full attacking range too.

Stuart McCloskey:
Strangely (to me) dropped for the South Africa tour, a player who impressed me on his brief 6N showing, determined and dogged and powerful running and tackles. Unsubtle but his sheer tenacity and rawness could provide whomever starts at 12 for the Kiwis a lot to think about.

Chances: unless he gets his Ireland shirt, not great but ok
Good for: raw power

Noel Reid

A classy player at 12 who can cover the playmaking 15 or 10 role as well. Very much the second fifth-eighth approach to centre, he has playmaking ability and a good eye for creating chances but even at Leinster there is a lot of competition for places never mind Ireland or the Lions, so he needs to step up and guarantee a club starting place first

Chances: until he's first choice at his club, slim
Good for: a second fly half in the back line without giving up centre specific skills

Others: Ian Madigan is immensely talented, if with recent struggles with O'Connor at Leinster and a new French Club. Decent shot of touring but likely needs to pick a position and stick to it.
Johnny Sexton will obviously go, but he's gonna play 10 (or bench) unless some quirky selection alla Farrell at 12 for England sees Ford at 10 with him outside very successful in training.

Scotland:

Incumbent:

Peter Horne:
As noted before, a good utility type player who covers a lot of options but doesn't really have Lions sparkle for me.  His kicking at 12 is quite handy though and he's a good squad player who could make up the numbers, but Scotland have better centres more likely to go.

Chances: ok but not great.
Good for: utility cover

Alex Dunbar:
Injured recently but key for Glasgow when they were good, and he has very adept handling and the strength to hold the ball up and lead the defence at 12. He's a really good player and I think a bit underrated due to his absence recently. He can also break the line if given a bit more space and I think he has a good chance of touring.

Chances: pretty good, has a lot to offer at centre
Good at: committing defenders and punishing them if they don't commit. Like a Sex in the City character. Or something.

Matt Scott:
Was once the bright future of the Scotland midfield. This status has waned a bit, more due to playing outside continuing clumpy 10s (pre-Russell) and then the rise of other good centres for once. However, he's still got a good pass and a nifty runner and he's still a bloody good player. Would be happy for him to be involved.

Chances: pretty good- he can play 12 or 13 so likely to get exposure and offers variety if he goes.
Good for: reliable skills and good hands

Duncan Taylor:
Resurgent under the current Saracens set up and one of the most in form centres at national and club level in Europe. It feels strange bigging up Scottish centres but there are a few good ones around these days, and Taylor is brave and vital in defence and runs good lines and covers a lot of positions. If he keeps this form up, I would take him. Probably a better 12.

Chances: pretty good, but there's a recurring theme here and not all of these options can go.
Good for: covering the back line and consistent hard work.

Huw Jones:
Now that I've been reminded, as opposed to my comments in the 13 section, I do know who this guy is. He's been playing good rugby and managing to start in Super 15 in the Sharks lineup, which for a NH player is a testament to his quality. He's been doing well there too, but in fact is far more of a 13 who can cover 12 or 15. He should have been there properly on the 13 list, sorry. He has just been capped and so would be a surprise to tour, but the Lions sometimes take bolters and he'd be used to playing New Zealand starters more than most.

Chances: would be a surprise bolter but there's often a surprise pick and he's a good player.
Good at: running classy lines from 13

Others: Fraser Lyle is a solid utility back but won't get capped the way things are Ruaridh Jackson is a very good 10 and we will discuss him next time, but an emergency cover at 12 only. Duncan Weir similarly, though I don't think he'll go as a 10 either.
Chris Dean is one I also should have discussed on the 13 list, a good quick young player with potential, needs more time with Edinburgh.
Mark Bennett has a great chance but is far more a 13.
Nick De Luca may get a new lease of life with Wasps, but let's be honest, probably not. (Also more a 13)

Wales:

Incumbent:

Jamie Roberts:
One of Gatland's key players and had a decent season with Quins and Wales before looking tired in NZ. Roberts brings power and sucks in players and leads the defence but we've seen little else from him for years despite starting in the back 3 and being a decent passer! Maybe someone else can get more from him. Either way, his way of playing may be one dimensional right now but it's hard to stop and has a place.

Chances: pretty bloody good esp if Gatland leads
Good for: sucking in defenders, dominating defence

Scott Willams:
A bit more varied, and covers 13 as well. More running but still a good carrier and has decent hands and a safe defender. Needs to steal a place from the long standing duo of Davies and Roberts but looks more likely to do so than ever before and a good outside bet to tour.

Chances: very reasonable
Good for: making me cry by stripping Lawes

Cory Allen:
One of the standouts for Cardiff Blues in recent seasons, Allen is a big chap and can do the Roberts role ok, but has a more used set of good hands and more pace. As long as he can get back into 15s after trying for 7s, he's good enough to get a Wales starting berth and press for a Lions shirt, though with those three above him (Williams, Davies and Roberts) it will be tough. Lovely to watch on the break.

Chances: pretty decent, big names keeping him out though
Good for: Roberts with pace

Jonathan Davies:
Definitely more a 13 but can play 12 and could have a decent combo with the likes of Joseph, with him still having the power to suck people in and an attacking ability of his own. His pass is a weakness and at 12 more so, though, and it would be a risk.

Chances: very good but far more likely at 13
Good for: playing 13, or a 12 that doesn't need to pass.

James Hook:
The forgotten child of Welsh rugby, a talent with some doubts in his decision making and composure that he's never been able to shake. Has had good and less good moments for Gloucester. Still has a nice step and a complete kicking game. Still a bit flakey and especially in defence. Covers 10, 12, 13 and 15 all pretty solidly. But seems his time is past.

Chances: could do it but not high up the list right now.
Good for: a bit of flair, but with a bit of risk.

Others: Tyler Morgan is more a 13 and still green.
Gavin Henson is a blast from the past, Lions too much of a step up for his recent years.
Ashley Beck is a solid player but I think well behind other centres


Last edited by ChequeredJersey on Sat 30 Jul 2016, 12:32 pm; edited 9 times in total
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Post by GeordieFalcon on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 8:59 am

Probably Stuart Hogg. Top class player, just keep the football theatrics at home!

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 9:06 am

Can't see past Hogg at the minute with the form he's in, right up there with Smith & Folau.

I can't see Hammersely on your list CJ?

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Post by mikey_dragon on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 11:30 am

So there's 23 players in the squad - do we seriously have to have another 22 articles on this? And that's excluding all the others to come with it.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 11:35 am

Ha ha Sgt, I was so tempted to mention him aswell....but thought I was pushing it as we know who Captain Robinson is irreplaceable Wink

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Post by ChequeredJersey on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 3:03 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:So there's 23 players in the squad - do we seriously have to have another 22 articles on this? And that's excluding all the others to come with it.

You don't have to read them. You can just ignore them Smile
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Post by LondonTiger on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 3:06 pm

CJ,

It does still feel a bit early for these articles, especially as the Summer tours not finished. However the best researched and written article I have seen on this topic.

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Post by Welly on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 3:13 pm

ATM i would say that
Williams
Hogg

Would be my two main FB.

If it is say Gatland as head coach he will bring Halfpenny along as well. If a combo of Cotter and Schmidt i can see Nowell or Watson being used as depth cover there.


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Post by mikey_dragon on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 3:35 pm

ChequeredJersey wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:So there's 23 players in the squad - do we seriously have to have another 22 articles on this? And that's excluding all the others to come with it.

You don't have to read them. You can just ignore them Smile

I most probably will, but couldn't we just have had one article for the starting team, rather than an article for every position?

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Post by ChequeredJersey on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 3:41 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:
ChequeredJersey wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:So there's 23 players in the squad - do we seriously have to have another 22 articles on this? And that's excluding all the others to come with it.

You don't have to read them. You can just ignore them Smile

I most probably will, but couldn't we just have had one article for the starting team, rather than an article for every position?

Can do. Will end up being very big though
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Post by mikey_dragon on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 3:44 pm

Or forwards and backs then. As alluded to though this is a well thought out and well written article.

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Post by DaveM on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 8:54 pm

I don't think the FB will be English. Hogg and Williams seem good calls at this stage.

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Post by broadlandboy on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 9:32 pm

MD he's doing positions so would expect only 15 articles & if he wants to write them it's up to others wether they read them.

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Post by The Great Aukster on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 11:05 am

The team has never been selected with the best individuals by position so looking at each number in isolation is purely academic. The tight five will be English, the backrow and half backs will be Welsh, so that leaves a couple of tokens from Ireland and Scotland somewhere in the outside backs meaning that Stuart Hogg is a cert for 15.

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Post by bedfordwelsh on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 12:24 pm

The Great Aukster wrote:The team has never been selected with the best individuals by position so looking at each number in isolation is purely academic. The tight five will be English, the backrow and half backs will be Welsh, so that leaves a couple of tokens from Ireland and Scotland somewhere in the outside backs meaning that Stuart Hogg is a cert for 15.

You can't even guarantee that this far out.

Nel and Lee will come into the reckoning for tighthead.

Murray and Sexton will def come into the half back reckoning.

As for the backrow, like last time there are so many class backrowers about you can't pick any out yet.
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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 2:23 pm

Don't forget Prince Harry, he plays either 12 or 15 (or in the eyes of England U20 selectors 10), with the extra experience he could be a serious contender for either position.

He has all the attributes to make a seriously good 15, especially with that huge boot and the pace of a good winger, add to that his ability to run at space and that he is a monster to drag down when running flat out and you have the makings of a very good 15, whether he can step up that far is open to question, but his learning curve this year has been nigh on vertical.

All of the above and the fact that Doc Grey has already prophesised him as the future Lions captain. The Doc has an astute rugby brain and I might add great taste in clubs.

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Post by doctor_grey on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 3:48 pm

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:All of the above and the fact that Doc Grey has already prophesised him as the future Lions captain. The Doc has an astute rugby brain and I might add great taste in clubs.
And, might I add that WELL-PAST-It has a shrewed analytical mind and sees what others can't see, knows what others can't know, and can do things others can't do.  And he also has great tastes in Rugby clubs.  

And, yes, Prince Harry (future England and Lions captain) is the future.


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Post by Exiledinborders on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 4:29 pm

The Great Aukster wrote:The team has never been selected with the best individuals by position so looking at each number in isolation is purely academic. The tight five will be English, the backrow and half backs will be Welsh, so that leaves a couple of tokens from Ireland and Scotland somewhere in the outside backs meaning that Stuart Hogg is a cert for 15.
Why would the back row or half backs be Welsh? I could make a better argument for the half backs being either English or Irish. I don't think any country has a stand-out back row and certainly not Wales.

Who gets picked will depend on who is the coach. If it is Gatland then he will do as he did last time and base around the Welsh team. If it is any other coach I would expect team to be based around England and Ireland.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 5:01 pm

Moriarty as a Lions starter Shocked

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Post by englandglory4ever on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 5:28 pm

Why bother? The Lions generally lose their series. I'd rather the England players stay at home and recuperate/rest/play in AP. Several Lions usually come back in a mess anyway.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 5:34 pm

Because a helluva lot of people enjoy and its a massive commercial success.

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Post by Rory_Gallagher on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 7:46 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:Moriarty as a Lions starter Shocked

Yeah, dear me. According to the ESPN statistics, he missed eight tackles in the first test against NZ.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 9:21 pm

Rory_Gallagher wrote:
Sgt_Pooly wrote:Moriarty as a Lions starter Shocked

Yeah, dear me. According to the ESPN statistics, he missed eight tackles in the first test against NZ.

I still find it hard to believe that he's an international player tbh, he's well short of the the quality required.

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Post by doctor_grey on Sun 19 Jun 2016, 9:53 pm

The way I see the fullback contenders in no particular order at the moment are:
Hogg - best attacking threat
Brown - (if healthy) best defending option, especially fielding kicks
Halfpenny (if healthy) - best overall threat
Health may be the key deciding factor as i think Brown needs a rest and Halfpenny needs to play.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 12:48 am

Sgt_Pooly wrote:
Rory_Gallagher wrote:
Sgt_Pooly wrote:Moriarty as a Lions starter Shocked

Yeah, dear me. According to the ESPN statistics, he missed eight tackles in the first test against NZ.

I still find it hard to believe that he's an international player tbh, he's well short of the the quality required.

He's played very well and slotted into the back-row with ease. I think most fans might prefer him over Lydiate now due to the abrasiveness that he brings. He's a very good carrier and a nuisance at the breakdown, which seemingly isn't there from the former guy in possession of the shirt. He's not a poor tackler at all. He's been struggling with two things; 1. The pace of the All Blacks and the speed in which both tests have been played. 
2. Wales' defensive structures, he's been caught out a couple times. I also think Shaun Edwards is fast becoming part of the problem btw. Moriarty has improved between tests, I'd expect that to continue.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 7:29 am

I think he's extremely average Mikey, you must have better available? For all of Lydiate's knocking, he doesn't miss many tackles.

Moriarty has missed 11 tackles in 2 games, that's not good enough for a flanker.

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Post by rodders on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 10:33 am

If Gats is the coach it will be between 1/2Penny and Williams and no one else need apply....

Hogg, Goode and Brown seem to be the standout options at the minute but there's a lot of rugby to be played. If Payne keeps the Ireland 13 jersey he could be a good option too.
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Post by funnyExiledScot on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 10:39 am

Comprehensive!

Mine will be shorter. I'd take three fullback on the Lions tour:

Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson and Leigh Halfpenny.

This does, of course, come with the usual caveats around form and fitness.

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Post by Hazel Sapling on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 10:48 am

For FB, Hogg is the choice at the moment. Annoyed by his defensive communication at times and his aerial work but great boot, hits the line at pace, good playmaker and Lions will need a try out of nothing at several points, this guy can provide them.

L Williams is the 2nd best FB. Decent defender, decent boot, enters the line well, good in the air and can counterattack well. Solid skillset even though I think he is a yellow card waiting to happen at times.

Kearney is off the boil (maybe permanently at this point), Payne has looked good to act as cover as a utility man, Brown has been off the pace this year (more likely to recover), Goode has to prove it as an international, Watson I have mainly watched at wing not FB so would view him as a utility cover at this point, Halfpenny is coming off a serious knee injury and needs to prove he is still able to play at a high level without injury, Patchell has slim to no chance even if I like his game, (for CJ) Murchie is a club level 15 who never lets the team down and Maitland is another option as a utility back 3 player who needs to have a good year.

All in all, I think versatility will dictate who covers the 3rd FB option so think purer 15's like Brown, Goode, Kearney and Halfpenny may not get in unless they are a clear 1st/2nd choice. Think one of them will get in through injury or form but there is a year to go and at this moment in time they are outside looking in. Watson or Payne are the likely 3rd options at this point.

Think I covered everyone rapidly. Anyone saying Mallinder, he is not even close to a Saxons call up let alone England. It would be like me saying Kinghorn (who is the incumbent starter for Edinburgh and Scotland u20s). He is a good young player who has the potential to be special. He is not currently and Lions are all about now not what they can become in several years time.

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Post by marty2086 on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 10:48 am

ChequeredJersey wrote:
Incumbent: Jared Payne: Payne has largely played 13 for Ireland but has been very strong for a while at 15 for Ulster and before that in NZ. Payne is excellent under the high ball and a very good defender. He would be controversial as another kiwi playing AGAINST the All Blacks for the LIons. He has a very suitable skill set that fits in a lot of approaches and covers 13, but recently has lacked a bit of flair and is relatively untested at FB for Ireland.

Chances: very good of touring, I think, with his 13 cover, but don't think he'll start. Good for: Utility, safe at the back

Did you watch the game last week? Two out the back offloads that I remember and one directly led to a try, that's more flair than hes shown ever before

Think he, Hogg and Williams are the best all round attacking threats, Brown needs the team playing well to be a threat otherwise he becomes a bit toothless and headless. If you have quality kicking options at 10 Halfpenny becomes irrelevant as Williams at 15 has offered more for Wales recently than Halfpenny has in a long time

Until we know who the coach is though its a tough call to make, another few weeks might tell


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Post by mikey_dragon on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 1:12 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:I think he's extremely average Mikey, you must have better available? For all of Lydiate's knocking, he doesn't miss many tackles.

Moriarty has missed 11 tackles in 2 games, that's not good enough for a flanker.

You can't have watched the tests and still believe that? It's actually Kaino and Cane who have looked average, with Read looking phenomenal. Unfortunately no, as Turnbull and King can't cut mustard at international level. It's extremely frustrating with King because he always looks pretty good for the Ospreys. Another option would be to shift Warburton to 6 and have Jenkins start at 7 but I don't think that's necessary just yet.

No not good enough. The missed tackle count for Wales across both tests just isn't good enough. I'm not making excuses for Moriarty but he is new to this level, and has struggled to cope with the intensity and the defensive structures - that itself needs work because Wales keep leaking tries. We have seen improvement from the flanker from one test to the other and like I said I expect that to continue. He should be a much better player next season for it, so it wouldn't be so out of ordinary to then say he's a Lions possible.


As for FB, I'm surprised to see Brown and Goode touted, they're not playing well enough right now and Goode has always been average at this level. Liam Williams must be severely hated to not be getting any recognition - quality back 3 player who will always give 100%.

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Post by TJ on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 1:28 pm

Williams is a good player no doubt - but I don't think he is at the level of Hogg yet ( except in the "git you would like to slap stakes" where he is right up with Hogg and Brown) But given a good year he could well be in contention

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Post by ChequeredJersey on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 10:03 pm

marty2086 wrote:
ChequeredJersey wrote:
Incumbent: Jared Payne: Payne has largely played 13 for Ireland but has been very strong for a while at 15 for Ulster and before that in NZ. Payne is excellent under the high ball and a very good defender. He would be controversial as another kiwi playing AGAINST the All Blacks for the LIons. He has a very suitable skill set that fits in a lot of approaches and covers 13, but recently has lacked a bit of flair and is relatively untested at FB for Ireland.

Chances: very good of touring, I think, with his 13 cover, but don't think he'll start. Good for: Utility, safe at the back

Did you watch the game last week? Two out the back offloads that I remember and one directly led to a try, that's more flair than hes shown ever before

Think he, Hogg and Williams are the best all round attacking threats, Brown needs the team playing well to be a threat otherwise he becomes a bit toothless and headless. If you have quality kicking options at 10 Halfpenny becomes irrelevant as Williams at 15 has offered more for Wales recently than Halfpenny has in a long time

Until we know who the coach is though its a tough call to make, another few weeks might tell


Personally I'd say Brown looks better in a team struggling, based on some seasons for QUins (not this one) and Lancaster's England. The key right now is that he is not playing very well
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Post by The Great Aukster on Mon 20 Jun 2016, 10:45 pm

bedfordwelsh wrote:
The Great Aukster wrote:The team has never been selected with the best individuals by position so looking at each number in isolation is purely academic. The tight five will be English, the backrow and half backs will be Welsh, so that leaves a couple of tokens from Ireland and Scotland somewhere in the outside backs meaning that Stuart Hogg is a cert for 15.

You can't even guarantee that this far out.

Nel and Lee will come into the reckoning for tighthead.

Murray and Sexton will def come into the half back reckoning.

As for the backrow, like last time there are so many class backrowers about you can't pick any out yet.

I'm not talking about personnel because Gatland proved in Australia that it's not about individual talent but rather about picking proven combinations that don't have to start at square one on Lions tours. Sure Nel and Lee may be individually better than Cole but Dan knows the players and the calls around him and what to do when he's running on empty when his mates are up against it.

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Post by Pot Hale on Tue 21 Jun 2016, 6:43 pm

ESPN have written an article on who they think a starting Lions team should be based on current form.

It has both British and Irish Lions in it - just.

Vunipola, Hartley, Cole
Itoje, AW Jones
Haskell, Warburton
Faletau
Webb, Farrell
Henson, Joseph
North, Watson, Hogg

Looks about right, although you could argue until the cows came home about the back row.

Not even sure if Henshaw is the best 12 and is more a token pick. A Ford/Farrell combo might be more appealing against NZ.
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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue 21 Jun 2016, 6:55 pm

Pot Hale wrote:ESPN have written an article on who they think a starting Lions team should be based on current form.

It has both British and Irish Lions in it - just.

Vunipola, Hartley, Cole
Itoje, AW Jones
Haskell, Warburton
Faletau
Webb, Farrell
Henson, Joseph
North, Watson, Hogg

Looks about right, although you could argue until the cows came home about the back row.

Not even sure if Henshaw is the best 12 and is more a token pick.  A Ford/Farrell combo might be more appealing against NZ.

Thank god you mentioned Henshaw after as the guy in the team above had me questioning their sanity!

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Tue 21 Jun 2016, 7:11 pm

How the hell did Vuinipola and AWJ make the side?

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue 21 Jun 2016, 7:14 pm

You need a couple of obvious wums Pooly.

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Post by The Great Aukster on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 1:48 pm

Pot Hale wrote:ESPN have written an article on who they think a starting Lions team should be based on current form.

It has both British and Irish Lions in it - just.

Vunipola, Hartley, Cole
Itoje, AW Jones
Haskell, Warburton
Faletau
Webb, Farrell
Henson, Joseph
North, Watson, Hogg

Looks about right, although you could argue until the cows came home about the back row.

Not even sure if Henshaw is the best 12 and is more a token pick.  A Ford/Farrell combo might be more appealing against NZ.

Henshaw is obviously a token, and I agree the Ford/Farrell combo would be better.

There should be a lot of English players in the squad, but that also means Jones needs to be the coach as he is the one who has brought the best out of them.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 1:50 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:How the hell did Vuinipola and AWJ make the side?


Well the latter is world class and back on form. I agree with you on Mako though. McGrath and later on in the season Marler will be the ones in contention.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 2:03 pm

What constitutes world class in your view mikey. Serious question.


Last edited by No 7&1/2 on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 2:26 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : what not that)

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Post by Hazel Sapling on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 2:22 pm

AWJ has been a great player and probably still is after an injury hit season but he is now competing with Itoje, Kruis, Launchbury, Grayx2, and Henderson for a starting spot. The only way he starts is if he is to be made captain and/or is considered to be the best lineout operator. He is not dynamic enough in that list to be the bench lock.

This is the FB thread though so will wait til CJ gets to the locks section to discuss that.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 2:23 pm

He's certaibly looked world class in NZ........

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Post by captain carrantuohil on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 2:24 pm

Hogg is number one by a distance at the moment by merit of his recent performances, the fact that he is nailed on to be playing at 15 for the next twelve months and the added bonus that in 2017, he is unlikely to be seen as a makeweight back-up stand-off as he seemed to be in Australia three years ago.

There are other contenders, of course, but most of those that are being mentioned seem to alternate between 15 and other positions for club, country or both just now. Does Payne remain at 15 come the autumn? Possibly, but not set in stone. Liam Williams - outstanding at the moment but in which shirt will he be playing next year? You'd want Watson to spend some time as an international 15 before looking at him as a possible Test challenger in that shirt, I'd have thought and what if Brown finds some form? Plus what happens if Halfpenny comes back and regains form somewhere close to 2013?

The knock-on effects right across the backline are clear and will change depending on which of the hybrid backs are picked. Hogg is arguably as  certain of his Test spot as anyone can be on this June 22nd barring whoever gets the gig as skipper, a role which as it stands, does have a raging hot favourite, but which could easily change by the time we get to April. I thought that Rory Best was stapled on to be the Test hooker and possible captain of the 2013 Lions in February of that year and his form suddenly deserted him at the worst possible time.

Other positions will be covered by the excellent OP in the future, I'd imagine, but in a few, someone is going to be massively unlucky. What are the selectors going to do about locks, for example, assuming a good run with injuries and no disastrous form losses? They'll probably only take four - who will miss out from Itoje, Kruis, Launchbury, Lawes, A W-J, a pair of Grays, Henderson, maybe Dillane and maybe Toner? Very, very difficult and as I say, I think that the task of selecting a potential Lions side this far ahead only gets harder after you've considered the full-back slot.

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Post by captain carrantuohil on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 2:46 pm

That was a lot of fence-sitting, I've just realised!

A '1st 23' that might do the job in NZ, has a mixture of all 4 nations playing (often important for a bit of tour harmony, I tend to think), doesn't feature too many currently injured players (2) and tries to maximise available resources could be:

McGrath
Hartley
Cole

Kruis
A-W J

Itoje
Hardie
Faletau

Murray
Sexton
North
Farrell
Dunbar
Nowell

Hogg

Reps: Nel, Best, AN Other, Haskell, Vunipola (B), Webb, Ford, Watson/L.Williams/Halfpenny/Payne


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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 2:57 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:What constitutes world class in your view mikey. Serious question.

Players who can play at the level of AWJ.

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 2:59 pm

Is that two THs on the bench, Carrot?

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 3:00 pm

Ha. Like it; so AWJ will always be world class as he will always be at his own level!

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 3:01 pm

So the question is, who else is world class besides AWJ? Itokie and Kruis have been playing at that level lately, that's the best compliment I can afford them.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 22 Jun 2016, 3:06 pm

Seriously though what do you consider a WC level. Is there a limit to the amount of people at 1 time who can be world class?

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