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Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV

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Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV Empty Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV

Post by wickedwasp Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:55 pm

"When England ran out onto the field for their final game against the Irish the TV commentator said something along the lines of the fact that were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there was a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV. That’s possibly true. For every Ben Foden there’s a Rob Kearney. For every Tom Croft a Dan Lydiate. For every Owen Farrell a Jonny Sexton. So if that’s the case, then England’s Six Nations performance must logically be seen as all the more impressive, all the more unlikely, all the more incredible. England are far from a team of misfits. But they are a new team, a young team, a team in the process of being built. No international victory is ever won without blood, sweat, courage, tactical nous and diligent planning. For a group that barely knew each other just eight weeks previously to have won four games and come within a whisker of beating a very, very good Welsh side is surely a phenomenal performance in the book of all but the most one-eyed."

I read this on RugbyRugby and it's a good point. There's not a single player in the England team who is unarguably the best in his position. So does this once again reinforce the fact that a team can be greater (or less) than the sum of its parts.

Personally, I'm convinced it can, having coached kids for a number of years, it's the team ethos, commitment and sheer bloody effort that wins matches as often as not.

But, is it possible to build a top international team without a few "world class" players?



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Post by Impossible Standards Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:04 pm

You're right about the squad ethos. Some players still have just as important rolls to play even if they are not considered first choice. Also remember 'horses for courses' Very Happy
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Post by Geordie Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:05 pm

Corbs, Cole, Croft, Foden would be serious contenders...


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Post by wickedwasp Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:12 pm

I agree we have some contenders, Geordie, but it just made me think. Normally, an International team has one or more "talisman" players to start with - think Shane, BOD, etc.

But we don't seem to have any & I'm not sure that's actually a bad thing.

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Post by rodders Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:20 pm

Well from an Irish perspective I feel we have some outstanding individuals but I wish we had the hunger, enthusiasm and team ethic of this England side. We had lots of impressive stats and a few standout performers but its the 6N table which matters.

On paper they England much weaker that last season but on the pitch they are delivering much more. If they keep going the way they are then it won't be long until they are household names. Early days though.

Owen Farrell is an exciting talent imo and a Lions dark horse.
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Post by wickedwasp Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:26 pm

rodders, thanks for that.

I must admit, I'm more convinced by this team than previous ones as I think the foundations are right, particularly in terms of hard graft.

Farrell has potential, but let's see how he develops his attacking skills first.

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:29 pm

How many Ireland and Scotland players are UNARGUABLY the best in their positions?


Based on the 6 nations Farrell would be fly half.

On paper they England much weaker that last season but on the pitch they are delivering much more

What a 4-1 2nd place is now a lot more than a 4-1 win of the 6 nations?
Performance wise England were also a lot better in the two games against Aus than they have been in this 6 nations.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:29 pm

I think the number of English players will depend heavilly on the fitness of the older Welsh and Irish players who play in similar positions. The likes of Jenkins, Adam Jones, POC and BOD will all be good shouts for the next Lions tour if fit. If they aren't then you'd put money on Cole, Parling and Manu to come in on current form. Corbisero for Jenkins is a distinct possibility though he will face stiff competition from Healy.

There are some places that are more open though and full back is one of them. Kearney is probably the best FB in the world under the high ball, he also has an excellent defensive and tactical game. Foden on the opposite end of the scale has a limited kicking game, great defensive game but the magical footwork that Kearney can only dream about so if an attacking full back is required by team tactics then Foden will be in there all day.

Owen Farrell is an exciting talent imo and a Lions dark horse

Would be a brave decision to go down to Oz with a negative game plan though and with Farrell that is what's on the cards as all his strengths are defensive and tactically based. He could realistically keep Oz pinned back in their own half for long periods and wrack up the 3 pointers though.

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Post by wickedwasp Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:35 pm

Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler wrote:How many Ireland and Scotland players are UNARGUABLY the best in their positions?


Based on the 6 nations Farrell would be fly half.

On paper they England much weaker that last season but on the pitch they are delivering much more

What a 4-1 2nd place is now a lot more than a 4-1 win of the 6 nations?
Performance wise England were also a lot better in the two games against Aus than they have been in this 6 nations.

Delivered more against expectations may be more to the point I think - we all expected England to sdo well last year. This year with a new team of decent players, most of us were looking for 2 wins and some encouragement, so I'd say it's a better return this year, yes.


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Post by Geordie Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:36 pm

Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler wrote:How many Ireland and Scotland players are UNARGUABLY the best in their positions?


Based on the 6 nations Farrell would be fly half.

On paper they England much weaker that last season but on the pitch they are delivering much more

What a 4-1 2nd place is now a lot more than a 4-1 win of the 6 nations?
Performance wise England were also a lot better in the two games against Aus than they have been in this 6 nations.

Yes but those were the peak performances. It was all too inconsistant. What if they go down to SA and win the series 2-1, but play the same style? Would it still be worse performances?

I think the Lions next season will be very strong...and to be honest for the first time in a long time...i think it'll be too strong for Australia

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Post by wickedwasp Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:37 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:I think the number of English players will depend heavilly on the fitness of the older Welsh and Irish players who play in similar positions. The likes of Jenkins, Adam Jones, POC and BOD will all be good shouts for the next Lions tour if fit. If they aren't then you'd put money on Cole, Parling and Manu to come in on current form. Corbisero for Jenkins is a distinct possibility though he will face stiff competition from Healy.

There are some places that are more open though and full back is one of them. Kearney is probably the best FB in the world under the high ball, he also has an excellent defensive and tactical game. Foden on the opposite end of the scale has a limited kicking game, great defensive game but the magical footwork that Kearney can only dream about so if an attacking full back is required by team tactics then Foden will be in there all day.

Owen Farrell is an exciting talent imo and a Lions dark horse

Would be a brave decision to go down to Oz with a negative game plan though and with Farrell that is what's on the cards as all his strengths are defensive and tactically based. He could realistically keep Oz pinned back in their own half for long periods and wrack up the 3 pointers though.

I tend to agree there - kick ball to that Oz backline & you're in for a long afternoon.

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Post by rodders Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:40 pm

Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler wrote:
On paper they England much weaker that last season but on the pitch they are delivering much more

What a 4-1 2nd place is now a lot more than a 4-1 win of the 6 nations?
Performance wise England were also a lot better in the two games against Aus than they have been in this 6 nations.

It's a subjective opinion Peter. I believe the previous England team had a soft underbelly which was exposed by us and SA. They also lacked the right attitude which was seen in the RWC.

I don't feel that is the case now. They've worked hard and now they are getting results. Beating France away and hammering Ireland was a big step forward. There's a clear upward curve but it is early days.

I also believe the standard or rugby was higher this year than last.

In terms of the lions it's still way to early to say. Next season will be the key one, the club form up until xmas and then the 6N will determine who goes and who plays in the test team will evolve on tour.
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Post by scoi Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:45 pm

The English players who are in contention for the Lions players currently are Corbs, Cole, Parling, Croft, Morgan, Farrell, Barritt, Tuilagi and Foden. 9 players isnt a bad position to be in and if they all have a good year not many would be dissapointed if a high number make it to the starting 15.

The commentator was right in that these 9 could easily be overshadowed by Jenkins, Jones, POC/Charteris/Grey/AWJ/Evans, Lydiate/Ferris, Felatau/Denton/Heaslip, Sexton, Roberts, Davies, Halfpenny/Kearney with no English in the starting 15.

However the next year goes and the warm ups its very positive for the Lions that the squad (and back-ups) seems to be very strong and we can go into the tour with confidence.

Lets just hope the number of fans claiming Welsh bias is minimal should Gatland be confirmed as coach.

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Post by dummy_half Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:47 pm

It's a slightly odd situation, with England having come second in the 6Ns and being within 10 minutes of beating Wales, but with this fairly reasonable suggestion that England wouldn't provide a starter for the current Lions first choice XV.

Looking at our starting XV against Ireland:

1: Corbs. Would have a chance but probably a back up to Gethin Jenkins for the Lions
2: Hartley. Behind Best and Ford in the Lions reckoning (and perhaps also a couple of Welsh hookers, although they chopped and changed through the tournament)
3: Cole. Probably the closest of our forwards to a Lions XV, would be in competition with Adam Jones for the shirt

4: Botha
5: Parling - Richie Grey is a definite Lions starter, so they (particularly Parling) are battling for the second spot along with Ian Evans, POC, Donnacha Ryan. Add in that Bradley Davies will be back from suspension, Charteris from injury (and Lawes back into the frame) and it's a position of good strength in depth for the Lions.

6: Croft. Form improved through the 6Ns, with outstanding performances in the last two games (other than his handling Shocked ), but with Lydiate, Ferris and perhaps SOB competing for the same shirt, it's again a position of strength.
7: Robshaw. Not really a 7, and it showed at times, although he did a decent job as captain. Will be behind Rennie and Warburton for a Lions selection.
8: Morgan. Only 3 starts in the jersey for England, but he is definitely a Lions contender, but then so are all of Denton, Faletau and Heaslip. Probably the biggest and most dynamic carrier of the 4, but maybe not as rounded a game as the others, so it's a case of selecting based on likely tactics.

9: Youngs / Dickson. That the two have alternated, and both performed better off the bench than as starters tells you all you need to know about their form. Youngs is talented, but at the moment would be well behind Phillips in a Lions selection.
10: Farrell. The most likely back to take the starting jersey, in part because of failures from others. Sexton and Priestland came into the 6Ns as the likely Lions, but both have moved back because of variable form.

11: Strettle. Has seen little ball and made some mistakes in counter-attacking, but defended quite well. Butchered the try scoring chance against Wales. Unlikely to even make the Lions squad, with North and Bowe likely to start, Ashton and Cuthbert as reserves and 1/2p probably along to provide back 3 cover.
12: Barritt. Does wall-like defence merit a Lions spot? Roberts may have been hit and miss, but is a class act and is the other obvious pick in this jersey.
13: Tuillagi. Surely will make the squad, but perhaps eclipsed this tournament by JD2, who has been in outstanding form.
14: Ashton. Not at his try-scoring best, although some criticism has been unfair as he has worked hard to try to get into the games. I think a squad place is there for him, but not a starting XV spot.

15: Foden. Again, he's been pretty good but Kearney has been better both under the high ball and countering ball in hand (and RK came close to landing a sensational drop goal against us). 1/2p has been solid as well, although I think his Lions spot is more likely as bench cover for the back 3 than as a starter.

So the premise is reasonable - Corbs, Cole, Croft, Morgan, Farrell, Barritt, Manu and Foden will all be close to getting in the XV, but none are even close to guaranteed their spot. Cole and Farrell look to be closest for me.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:52 pm

I believe the previous England team had a soft underbelly which was exposed by us and SA.

I think too much emphasis was put on building a team for the RWC. The previous management changed a lot of things and put in place the foundations from which Lancaster built this team. The problem was that there wasn't enough time to complete the rebuilding process before the RWC and so certain players were maintained when the coaches and Johnno had actually lost a little faith in them. None of which was helped by Tindall's new celebrity status in the year of the royal weddings and the tabloids actively chasing the squad around NZ.

Lancaster has had the bonus of being told that there are no expectations and that he can do what he likes. He has taken the foundations that Johnno built and imposed a hard line disciplinary approach (similar to Johnno at the start of his tenure) and backed players to do a job for him. He made the team hard to beat which wasn't the Johnno plan preRWC but what he tried to achieve in NZ when the pressure was on (and failed to do).

This England team has a severe weakness but a different one to last years team. The rugby in certain areas (mainly defence) was better this year but in other areas (attack) it was noteably far worse. Against Ireland the majority of the points were down to the English defence and the scrum forcing penalties (penalty try and quick tap and go providing the 5 pointers).

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Post by munkian Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:57 pm

Good post, really looking forward to 2013 - Six Nations tournament may be even closer than last year plus the Lions tour with what will be the most competative squad in ages (though the 2009 team should of won)

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Post by rodders Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:58 pm

Its just an opinion Peter but I didn't see the previous side front up in the manner this one has.

Last year England were demolished at the breakdown but this season they blew us away there.

They have a long way to go but the foundations are there to build a good side. The attack needs to develop but the defence, set piece and breakdown are the key areas to build from.
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Post by Geordie Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:03 pm

Are the individual teams touring next year aswell? or is it only the Lions.

(Whilst most players want to make the lions) I guess if your not selected...its a nice summer off...

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Post by Geordie Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:05 pm

7: Robshaw. Not really a 7, and it showed at times, although he did a decent job as captain. Will be behind Rennie and Warburton for a Lions selection.

Whilst i agree he may not quite match the others...he's the type of player that could be a wild card..as he has a well rounded game, an engine that just doesnt stop and can cover all three back row positions.

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Post by munkian Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:08 pm

Tipuric is hot on a lot of flanker's heels too.

Like Sam he IS a 7, less physical maybe but has good footballing skills and pace.
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Post by Adam Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:40 am

As someone has said, England's leading players seem to be in positions of real depth where the Lions are concerned. If picked today, the starting XV may well not contain an Englishman, but there's a lot of rugby to be played in the next year or so, and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that one or all (ok, maybe all is a tad optimistic Smile) of the following could stake a claim:

Corbisiero
Hartley
Cole
Parling
Lawes
Croft
Robshaw
Wood
Morgan
Youngs
Care
Farrell
Flood
Barritt
Tuilagi
Ashton
Foden

When you look at it like that, there is cause for English optimism. At the moment I dare say none of the above would make it into the starting side, but can even the most miserly Welshman deny that all of those guys are just a strong SA tour and/or 6 Nations away from being selected? There's not that much in it....

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Post by LordDowlais Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:29 am

I really think Foden has a good shout as do Farrell and Barritt, but sadly at the moment the English players are looking to be squad members and not starters. But anything could happen and I would not be dissapointed at all to see Parling, Robshaw, Morgan or Croft in the side and that is if it was picked now, but as the prvious poster as said all Englands stand out players are the same as everyone elses so they are not shoe in's as other players are from other countries. OK

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Post by 21st Century Schizoid Man Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:28 am

Foden and Croft will defo go
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Post by kiakahaaotearoa Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:32 am

If Ashton can top the scores one season and come up with nout in the following who´s to say he can't make it back to the top? Foden probably would have been top choice similarly last year but seems to have fallen from grace this year. No reason why he can´t regain his top form and push Kearney or Hap'ny off the starting list.

I like the idea of the OP that this England team doesn´t have superstars of the game but is very effective as a unit with the added bonus of a very reliable goal kicker. Far better to have an effective defence and pack and need to work on attack than a flashy set of superstar backs but no spine in the team in the forwards. England have all the right ingredients it seems to make a very nice rugby cake with all the icing and decorations on top. If they don´t make the Lions, they might well fancy their chances in 2014 also as France seems to thrive after Lions tours.

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Post by freeman lowell Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:32 am

...... we came second and have a team with lots of second choices at the moment..........

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Post by Notch Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:37 am

Who are definites for the Lions? Very hard to pick anyone as certain. I think either Warburton or O'Connell will Captain the tour and most likely are the two players the back five of the pack will be built around. The Captain will definitely start. Gethin Jenkins seems to be quite away ahead of Healy, Corbisiero, Jacobsen etc. He's a safe bet if fit.

Adam Jones and Rory Best are the only other two names that spring to mind as pretty much nailed on, but whilst they are clear favourites could anyone really argue that hard if Dan Cole and Matthew Rees were to get the nod? Brian O'Driscoll would have been considered a racing certainty for the test side in the last two tours but age may catch up with him for this one.

Outside of that, there are simply too many good players in every position for starters to be guaranteed.
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Post by 21st Century Schizoid Man Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:37 am

I know who won't be going - Gouger Biter Hartley laughing The other players would probably kick his head in !
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Post by Adam Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:44 am

21st Century Schizoid Man wrote:I know who won't be going - Gouger Biter Hartley laughing The other players would probably kick his head in !

Now now, innocent until proven guilty!! I won't stand idly by and let you slander a man with such a blemishless record...............oh, wait

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Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV Empty Re: Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV

Post by TycroesOsprey Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:46 am

you get a sub in my team Tumbleweed

1. Gethin
2. Smiler
3. Adam J
4 POC
5. Gray
6. Lydiate
7. Rennie
8. Denton
9. Blair
10. Sexton
11. Cuthbert
12. JD
13. BOD
14. North
15. Kearney.

16. James
17. Ford
18. AWJ
19. Warbs
20. Phillips
21. Farrell
22. Halfpenny

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Post by kiakahaaotearoa Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:49 am

Hartley got 8 weeks so fill your boots.

You need a reliable goalkicker so I wouldn't be surprised to see Farrell on the list, especially if Kearney gets the nod over Halfpenny and he doesn´t make the wing either. Sexton is another possibility of course so still plenty left up in the air. Still a lot of rugby to be played before next year.


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Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV Empty Re: Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV

Post by Mad for Chelsea Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:52 am

freeman lowell wrote:...... we came second and have a team with lots of second choices at the moment..........

I think this sums it up pretty well. If you look at England's current starting XV you have:
Corbs - currently behind Jenkins
Cole - behind Jones. Both of these could change in a year's time I feel, certainly expect the English props to be really challenging for starting berths.
Hartley - I think all Lions hookers are pretty even, Best had the better 6N.
Lawes/Parling - behind Gray and POC probably at the mo.
Croft/Robshaw - backrow a position of strength for the Lions, you could honestly pick any of three for each position and I'd be happy.
Morgan - in the mix for a starting berth.
Youngs/Dickson - SH not a strong position at the mo for the Lions, a strong year for either of these could see them right in there.
Farrell - likely to at least tour, and at his current rate of progression wouldn't bet against him claiming the jersey.
Ashton - not suited to England's gameplan at the moment, needs to refind some of last year's form (he's well capable of it).
Baritt - behind Roberts, but again this time next year could be pushing.
Tuilagi - close between him and JD, of course BOD in the mix too.
Foden - him, Kearney and Halfpenny are all good options.

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:55 am

TycroesOsprey wrote:you get a sub in my team Tumbleweed

1. Gethin
2. Smiler
3. Adam J
4 POC
5. Gray
6. Lydiate
7. Rennie
8. Denton
9. Blair
10. Sexton
11. Cuthbert
12. JD
13. BOD
14. North
15. Kearney.

16. James
17. Ford
18. AWJ
19. Warbs
20. Phillips
21. Farrell
22. Halfpenny

Shocked

dare one suggest a hint of Welsh bias in this particular pick?

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Post by Barney McGrew did it Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:07 am

Behave yourselves. The Lions tour is after the next 6N - which England will win. So the Lions will be full of Englishmen. Including Hartley. You heard it here first. And Gats will take a leaf out of Lancaster's book and won't want to fill the side with oldies - there'll be a lot of running to do.
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Post by offload Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:18 am

In a Lions test next week - possibly no English starters. Possibly.

Next year - very likely to be half a dozen very serious English contenders.
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Post by Breadvan Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:45 am

Agree offload. Lions team now? yes. But far too much rugby to be played until the squad is selected.
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Post by slartibartfast Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:41 am

TycroesOsprey wrote:you get a sub in my team Tumbleweed

1. Gethin
2. Smiler
3. Adam J
4 POC
5. Gray
6. Lydiate
7. Rennie
8. Denton
9. Blair
10. Sexton
11. Cuthbert
12. JD
13. BOD
14. North
15. Kearney.

16. James
17. Ford
18. AWJ
19. Warbs
20. Phillips
21. Farrell
22. Halfpenny

That 789,10 axis looks strong, ahem. Whistle
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Post by majesticimperialman Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:53 am

Will Warbutton actualy go on the Lions tour?

He does seem to pick up alot of injuries when he plays for his country.


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Post by HammerofThunor Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:55 am

I really hope so. I'd love to have all the English players available for the England squad. The only down side is that the players might be disappointed.

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Post by SimonofSurrey Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:01 am

Longest ever post title gets my shortest ever reply:

Possibly true, so what a good team ethic they must have.

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Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV Empty Re: Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV

Post by Geordie Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:14 pm

In a years time...the Lions might be 2/3's English....or half Irish...or Scottish..

Who knows...a year in rugby is a long time.

I dont think Farrell is a starting contender. He's not creative enough. Would be a bench option though.


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Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV Empty Re: Were there to be a British & Irish Lions squad being assembled right now, there is a good chance that not a single Englishman would feature in the starting XV

Post by wickedwasp Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:33 pm

Summer Internationals, next year's 6N. Injuries, reputations lost/enhanced/made.

Let's face it we're all whistling in the dark.

Kind of fun, though Very Happy

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:40 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:In a years time...the Lions might be 2/3's English....or half Irish...or Scottish..


I'd like to think so. Personally I think the only two Scots to tour will be Gray and Rennie. Rennie will play dirt track and Gray will start in the XV.

Other contenders are Ford, Denton, Blair and Hogg, but taking my tartan tinted specs off, I can think of better alternatives. Injuries and form may well intervene though, plus Denton had a good game against Wales in front of Gatland and co.

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Post by Geordie Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:50 am

Thats the thing though FES..whilst its a bit of fun to think about it now...a year could transform the actual selections.

Rennie looks quality...if Warburtons injuries continue..why wouldnt he be in with a shout. Denton has played very well. Hogg has the pace that can be used against the Aussies...Ford looks the pick of the hookers IF he can keep his form. Gray is an automatic at the mo...but his form could plummet...all ifs and buts...

Even for England...Mullan and Marler are serious contenders for Corbs spot.
Garvey appears to be the real deal at SR and i expect him to take the place of Botha...Wood is back to challenge for the back row...Crane and Fearns will be at the heals of Morgan....

So many home nations teams seem to be in some stage of rebuilding...which could drastically shape the lions in a years time...


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