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Post by Rinsure on Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:54 pm

First topic message reminder :

So, the dates are announced for the Lions schedule in 18 months:

Sat July 3rd 2021: Stormers v Lions, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Wed July 7th: South Africa Invitational v Lions, NMB Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Sat July 10th: Sharks v Lions, Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
Wed July 14th: South Africa 'A' v Lions, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Sat July 17th: Bulls v Lions, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Sat July 24th: T1 Springboks v Lions, FNB National Stadium, Johannesburg
Sat July 31st: T2 Springboks v Lions, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Sat Aug 7th: T3: Springboks v Lions, Emirates Airline Park (Ellis Park), Johannesburg

So, eight matches, three tests - two of which are at altitude. Tough schedule.

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Post by Guest on Mon Apr 06, 2020 5:53 pm

The Oracle wrote:Just to add - for me the best thing Gats did for Wales was to instil a steely edge. For all of my living memory before that Wales could score some nice tries but had a very soft underbelly. We’d get physically dominated a lot. Whether it was actually him or Edwards or a combo, I’m not sure. But that’s my biggest fear with him/Edwards leaving is that we will lose some of that edge.

Will? I think we already have unfortunately! The regions need shaking up as you can't expect players to go from that every week to winning Grand Slams without paying for the best coaching ticket in the world. I fear that once it's gone, it's gone, and Pivac can try to pretend that this six nations was getting his feet under the table but so much about psychology is unconscious and once you accept a habit at one time, it's hard to then demand it to be different at another time i.e. let's say next year's six nations. What will have changed in the minds of the players? Anyway, off topic.

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Post by Guest on Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:04 pm

Old Man wrote:
123456789. wrote:I do find the questions regarding Gatland's size obsession a tad off. He picked a lot of big players between 2011 and 2015 but they were effective. There was not a better 12 in the Home Nations than Jamie Roberts, not a better scrum-half than Phillips, not a better Number 8 than Faletau etc.

I am also not convinced that South Africa can put out a more physical side than the Lions. Than any one Home Nation, perhaps. Between the four nations we can put out an absurdly physical team. I just don't think it would be our best one. Aki at 12 and Tuilagi at 13 would be the most physical centre pairing we could go for but it would not be the most effective. Playing 'smart' rugby players who have the capacity to front up will be the route to victory. I see no benefit in trying to batter down the door. Fortunately our biggest players have the capacity to play a fairly nuanced tactical game at the same time. I believe that Faletau and Vunipola could play in the backrow together especially with someone like Hamish Watson at openside. All three of them have the physicality to front up but equally Faletau has all the credentials of a good blindside, Watson is a quality openside and Vunipola an out and out 8. Equally in the second row Itoje and Ryan could hardly be described as anything remotely soft but both are very much the modern lock.

I don’t think Rassie has ever aimed at just physicality. Looking at last season players like Faf, Kolbe, Willie, Jantjies etc weren’t the biggest nor nost physical specimen

Exactly. 2009 showed where the Lions were lacking even if we outplayed South Africa for much of that tour with the ball in hand. The issue is always that South Africa play a game to a physicality that is more gruelling and more accurate than anyone else apart from maybe the Pacific Islanders, who might be the only other rugby players who are as physical as the Boks. For the likes of Itoje and Vunipola and George North and Furlong the question will be how much 'harder' do they have to play to be as effective? How far out of their NH comfort zone are they pushed by playing the Boks in SA? And then the question is 'how good are their skills under that pressure'? Their tactical heads, their basic skills and all the rest of it. England failed to answer that question monumentally because they couldn't meet the first part of that challenge in Japan which was 'match their physicality'. Then they had no answer for the outside backs who ultimately were the ones who scored the tries that took the game well away from England in the second half. The Lions players will have to relish the physical challenge and embrace the reality that they won't play a more physical side in their lives, not at the top level anyway, on this tour. But the Boks are also very skillful and have excellent half backs. Pollard in particular is very underrated, I'm not sure why. I'd argue he's probably the best outside half in the world, moreso than Beauden Barrett and Farrell. It should be a classic again as 1997 and 2009 are my two favourite Lions tours even if we lost the last one. I'm hoping to get down there and tour myself all being well but of course we just have to hope and pray we're soon over the worst of the coronavirus for that to happen.

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Post by 123456789. on Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:14 pm

I think there's something particularly special about Lions tours in South Africa, I'm not sure why. It could be the time difference means the games are on at accessible times.
My point wasn't meant to be that the South Africans are an unintelligent juggernaut that bludgeons teams to death. Just that if we turn up trying to beat up the South Africans we will lose, I don't doubt that we could muster a team that would beat up the South Africans but we'd be outplayed in the process.
I think a lot of the South African players are underrated, perhaps because a lot of them play rugby over here they don't have the mystique of the All Blacks, perhaps because they were so bad for a few years that Erasmus has got almost all of the credit for their revival.

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Post by Guest on Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:18 pm

I think all of that is true. They lost their aura for a while didn't they and eventhough a lot of us were actually predicting South Africa to win the world cup before it kicked off, I think all the chat before the final gave the impression that South Africa had shown as good as they'd got, and England were going to walk it. South Africa lost a semi final by 2 points with a team that was over the hill 4 years before. The media and even some fans should remember that by the time the Lions tour rolls round because even if they lose all their games in the lead up to it they will be 'ready' for the big show.

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Post by Old Man on Mon Apr 06, 2020 7:00 pm

The Boks id lose their aura, but i has been for a while now, poor selections, poor coaching and politics interfered just enough to make the Boks beatable on almost any occasion.

Those who believed, I mean truly believed the Boks could win last year weren’t South Africans, I can’t recall one Mate that thought we stood a chance.

The credit Rassie earned is most deserved, to get that backline with so very little experience to perform was incredible.

Mapimpi, Am, Kolbe had less than ten caps going into the RWC. Am imoroved his defensive organisation game by game, Mapimpi was very suspect on defence, yet somehow by end of RWC he was excellent, Kolbe was unlucky with his ankle injury, could have been a top try scorer.

I think the reason Pollard is under rated is because he isnt flashy, he just does whatt he does withou fuss.

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Post by 123456789. on Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:10 pm

I remember having a chat either the year of the last tour or the one after about how basically the Lions tour to South Africa would be something of a breeze. At the time I though any of the four nations could confidently go to South Africa with a good chance of winning such was the decline. Winning the Test Series against England changed that somewhat, the World Cup did it no harm.

Alun Wyn Jones is again the bookies favourite to captain the tour, Itoje is second, Farrell is third and Ryan is fourth. The Lions are *just* about favourites for the series according to Paddy Power. Using the format of last time's squad and the shortest odds for tourists in each position they're predicting:

Back three:
May
Adams
Stockdale
Williams
Hogg
Watson
Daly
Larmour

Centres:
Tuilagi
Ringrose
Slade
Davies
Henshaw

Stand Offs:
Sexton
Biggar
Farrell

Scrum-Halves:
Murray
Davies
Williams

Props:
Furlong
Sinckler
Francis
Vunipola
Healy
Genge

Hooker:
George
Cowan-Dickie
Kelleher

Second-Row:
Itoje
AWJ
Ryan
Henderson
Gray

Back-row:
Curry
Underhill
Vunipola
Stander
Faletau
Navidi
Watson
Tipuric


So 15 English, 9 Welsh, 12 Irish and 3 Scots. Hard to argue with a lot of the squad. Bizarrely Ken Owens is not one of their three most likely hookers but is the sixth most likely captain apparently. I can't see Jonny Gray touring ahead of Courtney Lawes as things stand but, all being well, he'll have more chances to go up against the best English second-rows and prove himself. I am not the biggest Jamie Ritchie fan but I thought he'd be in with a shout just because lots of people who know more than I do think he's the dog's danglies. But seeing the players listed there I think it's difficult to see who he'd come in ahead of. Rory Sutherland, McInally and Fagerson won't be far off but couldn't have many complaints if those ahead of them went instead.

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Post by RDW on Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:14 am

Would we really need 8 back 3 players? Headscratch

Given the shorter tour I suspect the squad will be a little smaller too.

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Post by 123456789. on Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:47 am

I suppose 8 back three players probably go on the basis of three test players, three midweekers and two subs but it does seem a tad much. Next year's tour is only the one game shorter, once you factor in the home friendly. Although, crucially, there's no midweek game in the test series which will make the world of difference. I do wonder this time if you won't see specific midweek tourists of the Haskell, Laidlaw and Seymour variety but rather a group of probables and possibles. I'd expect you'd see two players for each position, three in specialist places as well as more versatile options. You could comfortably pick just 17 backs rather than 19 with two complete backlines, an extra scrum-half, Farrell covers 10 and 12, Daly covers 11,13,14 and 15. The same with picking second-rows that cover backrows. I think it may well end up being around the 37 mark initially. Although it's worth remembering that Gatland planned on picking the 'Geography 6' from the beginning to cover that final game. So his real squad was ultimately 47 strong rather than 41.

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Post by RDW on Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:47 am

123456789. wrote:I suppose 8 back three players probably go on the basis of three test players, three midweekers and two subs but it does seem a tad much. Next year's tour is only the one game shorter, once you factor in the home friendly. Although, crucially, there's no midweek game in the test series which will make the world of difference. I do wonder this time if you won't see specific midweek tourists of the Haskell, Laidlaw and Seymour variety but rather a group of probables and possibles. I'd expect you'd see two players for each position, three in specialist places as well as more versatile options. You could comfortably pick just 17 backs rather than 19 with two complete backlines, an extra scrum-half, Farrell covers 10 and 12, Daly covers 11,13,14 and 15. The same with picking second-rows that cover backrows. I think it may well end up being around the 37 mark initially. Although it's worth remembering that Gatland planned on picking the 'Geography 6' from the beginning to cover that final game. So his real squad was ultimately 47 strong rather than 41.

This game is usually why you need such a large squad. The new schedule means you can have a weekend team (usually the test candidates) and a midweek team (the probables) then fully focus on the Tests as a group. There's really no need to have 8 back 3 players, as some of them would barely get any gametime before the tests.

It is a shame to not have the last midweek Test though - there have been some iconic games in previous tours as it's the dirt tracker's last chance to wear a Lions jersey.

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Post by alive555 on Tue Apr 07, 2020 3:46 am

123456789. wrote:I remember having a chat either the year of the last tour or the one after about how basically the Lions tour to South Africa would be something of a breeze. At the time I though any of the four nations could confidently go to South Africa with a good chance of winning such was the decline. Winning the Test Series against England changed that somewhat, the World Cup did it no harm.

Alun Wyn Jones is again the bookies favourite to captain the tour, Itoje is second, Farrell is third and Ryan is fourth. The Lions are *just* about favourites for the series according to Paddy Power. Using the format of last time's squad and the shortest odds for tourists in each position they're predicting:

Back three:
May
Adams
Stockdale
Williams
Hogg
Watson
Daly
Larmour

Centres:
Tuilagi
Ringrose
Slade
Davies
Henshaw

Stand Offs:
Sexton
Biggar
Farrell

Scrum-Halves:
Murray
Davies
Williams

Props:
Furlong
Sinckler
Francis
Vunipola
Healy
Genge

Hooker:
George
Cowan-Dickie
Kelleher

Second-Row:
Itoje
AWJ
Ryan
Henderson
Gray

Back-row:
Curry
Underhill
Vunipola
Stander
Faletau
Navidi
Watson
Tipuric


So 15 English, 9 Welsh, 12 Irish and 3 Scots. Hard to argue with a lot of the squad. Bizarrely Ken Owens is not one of their three most likely hookers but is the sixth most likely captain apparently. I can't see Jonny Gray touring ahead of Courtney Lawes as things stand but, all being well, he'll have more chances to go up against the best English second-rows and prove himself. I am not the biggest Jamie Ritchie fan but I thought he'd be in with a shout just because lots of people who know more than I do think he's the dog's danglies. But seeing the players listed there I think it's difficult to see who he'd come in ahead of. Rory Sutherland, McInally and Fagerson won't be far off but couldn't have many complaints if those ahead of them went instead.

"Hard to argue with a lot of the squad".

It is very easy of you're not irish. Very Happy

Id remove Larmour, Ringrose, Sexton, Murray, Healy, Henderson and Kelleher for a start. Better options in their positions than all of them. About 4 irish will be closer than the 12 you have. Hard to argue Very Happy
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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:19 am

AWJ will be taken by Gatland but I do not understand why, he is already down the rankings of top "Home Countries" locks and the likes of Lawes and Launchbury are simply better at the moment and will be even better next year.

It is no time for sentimentality, he showed in the 6N games that were played that he does not have it anymore, I can't remember him winning any of the tackle collisions, but I can remember him going backwards a lot. In SA he will get smashed, I would prefer to see a bolter like Kpoku go, he has the physicality to match the SA, and no little skill set.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:39 pm

Launchbury laughing, will never get the English obsession with him. I do finally understand past-it's dislike for Wales though, he grew up watching them squash England.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:53 pm

Surprising to see Furlong on so many lists, I think he's regressed quite badly since end of 2018. I do expect he will regain form and be on the plane though, he's class. Porter looks like a good understudy too. Daly can cover back 3 but I think there are better wing candidates from Wales and possibly Scotland that could go in his stead - he wouldn't be required if Slade is going. Slade over Daly for me. Good call on Kelleher.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:18 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:Launchbury laughing, will never get the English obsession with him. I do finally understand past-it's dislike for Wales though, he grew up watching them squash England.

I cannot deny the grew up bit, my first experience of Twickenham was watching Keith Jarrett put us to the sword with if I remember 15 points from penalties.

I do not have a dislike of the Welsh, just some people who happen to be Welsh, also Irish and Scots and the odd Romanian oh, and some English as well as a German.

Like you do not get the Launchbury, and I am not a great supporter of him, thats 7.5, I do not get the AWJ thing, well not for a couple of years anyway. I do not believe he would be in the top 6 if he was playing for England now.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue Apr 07, 2020 2:45 pm

There’s tons of evidence to prove your dislike of the Welsh. I get it, hating on Wales is just an English thing to do - keep it to the internet for your own good. 

Launchbury is a great player don’t get me wrong, just nowhere near as good as you all hype him up to be. AWJ would be in the top 4, but I understand it’s very English to hate on him too.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:02 pm

I do love launchbury. 2nd best pick for us after itoje now. I cant believe hes rated below the others by the majority but hey ho. Hes not going to get a look in but gatland given the past tours so wont trouble this thread.

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Post by 123456789. on Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:09 pm

I'd be lying if I said that I fully understood this debate. Itoje and Ryan are the best second-rows in the Home Nations currently, by a fair distance. Lawes probably comes in third. At his best, AWJ was better than all of them. He is not currently at his best and at his age that might be the beginning of long term decline. If he gets back to his best next season he will tour and probably as captain. If he carries on at his current level he's up against the likes of Gray, Henderson, Launchbury etc. to get into the squad. If he gets worse than he may not start for Wales. It's quite simple.

I am not really sure where the "you don't rate Launchbury (England's, at best, third choice lcck so you're anti-English" - "well you think Alun Wyn Jones might not be the best option across four (yes four - Scotland are the only team ever to win the Douglas Horn trophy) leading rugby nations to play the World Champions in their own back yard at the age of 35 so you must be anti-Welsh" argument comes from.

Apparently for the Lions warm-up game they're talking to the Barbarians, Japan and New Zealand Maori. I'm pretty convinced it makes far more sense to play Japan than either of them for a full-blooded test match. It would not be a bad idea to get a 'midweek' game in against Italy in Rome before they travel either. It could be a fitting send off to Parisse for a country that's suffering terribly and will still be then.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:11 pm

I don't think AWJ was good enough to go in 2017 let alone next year if i'm honest, I always preferred Charteris for his physicality.

Itoje and Ryan look nailed on to be the starting second rows at the moment with Lawes likely to go providing he holds up physically, i'd expect Henderson to go as back five cover which leaves just one place. On current form Ball would be an option.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:19 pm

I'd agree itoje and ryan look one of the most certain combos in the team. It's hard to see anyone coming through to challenge should they both be fit and on form. Potential that gatland could use itoje at 6 but that would be madness in my eyes with the strength from all teams at flanker.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:41 pm

I wouldn't be against using Henderson at 6 but Itoje has to be packing down in the second row, considering it's South Africa I wonder if Kruis is an option?

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Post by 123456789. on Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:55 pm

I think Kruis is going off to Japan. I can’t imagine that the Lions will plan on going to South Africa with Itoje having played in the Championship all year and Kruis having been in Japan. If Kruis goes to Japan it will have been 16 months between first class games by the time the Lions roll around. Itoje will have played maybe 8 top class competitive games in 16 months. You may even have a situation if enough of the second rows play well enough across next season Gatland may not take Itoje at all.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue Apr 07, 2020 5:13 pm

It would be big to leave out one of his best players but he does like creating controversy.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Tue Apr 07, 2020 5:25 pm

123456789. wrote:I think Kruis is going off to Japan. I can’t imagine that the Lions will plan on going to South Africa with Itoje having played in the Championship all year and Kruis having been in Japan. If Kruis goes to Japan it will have been 16 months between first class games by the time the Lions roll around. Itoje will have played maybe 8 top class competitive games in 16 months. You may even have a situation if enough of the second rows play well enough across next season Gatland may not take Itoje at all.

Gatland relied on Warburton for years and he barely played outside of the international window. Factor in that it's unlikely any player will be playing all that much before the Lions tour. Itoje and Kruis not playing much top class rugby would be seen as a major plus going into a lions tour not a negative.

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Post by chris_501 on Tue Apr 07, 2020 6:53 pm

I wouldn't be surprised to see Cory Hill go alongside Itoje, Ryan, Lawes and Henderson.

Scrum half is the really big decision for me, any of Youngs, Murray, Cooney, Webb, Davies, Williams, Price or Horne could conceivably go, providing they have a great season.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:03 pm

123456789. wrote:I'd be lying if I said that I fully understood this debate. Itoje and Ryan are the best second-rows in the Home Nations currently, by a fair distance. Lawes probably comes in third. At his best, AWJ was better than all of them. He is not currently at his best and at his age that might be the beginning of long term decline. If he gets back to his best next season he will tour and probably as captain. If he carries on at his current level he's up against the likes of Gray, Henderson, Launchbury etc. to get into the squad. If he gets worse than he may not start for Wales. It's quite simple.

I am not really sure where the "you don't rate Launchbury (England's, at best, third choice lcck so you're anti-English" - "well you think Alun Wyn Jones might not be the best option across four (yes four - Scotland are the only team ever to win the Douglas Horn trophy) leading rugby nations to play the World Champions in their own back yard at the age of 35 so you must be anti-Welsh" argument comes from.

Apparently for the Lions warm-up game they're talking to the Barbarians, Japan and New Zealand Maori. I'm pretty convinced it makes far more sense to play Japan than either of them for a full-blooded test match. It would not be a bad idea to get a 'midweek' game in against Italy in Rome before they travel either. It could be a fitting send off to Parisse for a country that's suffering terribly and will still be then.

Well you should know, unless you've contributed to this forum whilst sitting under a rock for the last few years... AWJ seems to be a prime target for some reason. Also if you read my earlier comments on the matter you'd see that I didn't think AWJ should or would tour.

I just don't rate Launchbury as highly as others, but he has been overhyped for a while. I'm sure he can grow to be quite the player for England at some point but it's not now and it hasn't been for a couple seasons. Lawes spent a lot of his career overhyped too but he has been one of the top locks over the last few seasons. England just overhype their players.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:08 pm

Soul Requiem wrote:I don't think AWJ was good enough to go in 2017 let alone next year if i'm honest, I always preferred Charteris for his physicality.

Itoje and Ryan look nailed on to be the starting second rows at the moment with Lawes likely to go providing he holds up physically, i'd expect Henderson to go as back five cover which leaves just one place. On current form Ball would be an option.

Charteris was an okay lock that had a few very good seasons at the tail-end of his career. He was utilised pretty well.

It's okay to not rate AWJ. Interesting that you mention 2017 as that's what I was referring to. The personal attacks on him on a daily basis were wide of the mark, I assume it was because the English wanted 4 of their locks to tour. Even Kruis having an absolute stinker and getting dropped wasn't enough to make you guys hush.

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Post by chris_501 on Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:19 pm

AWJ is the epitome of a home fan player. As Welsh fans, we obviously watch him regularly, with a real keen interest in how he performs, (as we do with the other 14 Welsh players on the pitch). He doesn't provide many highlight reel moments, so the work he gets through can be missed, but that is his real strength, the sheer volume of tackles, rucks hit, carries. As well as the clear confidence he gives others as a top trainer and leader.

That's not to say that he is necessarily better than Launchbury, Gray, Henderson etc., just that a lot of his best stuff is maybe not front and centre. One of the reasons that Gats may take him on tour, is that in a short space of time, he will be setting the standards in terms of his approach to training, and in providing a culture that will run through the rest of the squad.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:26 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:
Soul Requiem wrote:I don't think AWJ was good enough to go in 2017 let alone next year if i'm honest, I always preferred Charteris for his physicality.

Itoje and Ryan look nailed on to be the starting second rows at the moment with Lawes likely to go providing he holds up physically, i'd expect Henderson to go as back five cover which leaves just one place. On current form Ball would be an option.

Charteris was an okay lock that had a few very good seasons at the tail-end of his career. He was utilised pretty well.

It's okay to not rate AWJ. Interesting that you mention 2017 as that's what I was referring to. The personal attacks on him on a daily basis were wide of the mark, I assume it was because the English wanted 4 of their locks to tour. Even Kruis having an absolute stinker and getting dropped wasn't enough to make you guys hush.

Ever thought of growing up and dropping this persecution complex?

I couldn't care less how many England players tour with the lions but you do ignore that Jones was garbage in that first test himself.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:28 pm

chris_501 wrote:AWJ is the epitome of a home fan player. As Welsh fans, we obviously watch him regularly, with a real keen interest in how he performs, (as we do with the other 14 Welsh players on the pitch). He doesn't provide many highlight reel moments, so the work he gets through can be missed, but that is his real strength, the sheer volume of tackles, rucks hit, carries. As well as the clear confidence he gives others as a top trainer and leader.

That's not to say that he is necessarily better than Launchbury, Gray, Henderson etc., just that a lot of his best stuff is maybe not front and centre. One of the reasons that Gats may take him on tour, is that in a short space of time, he will be setting the standards in terms of his approach to training, and in providing a culture that will run through the rest of the squad.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:29 pm

AJW is 34 now, he will be 35 next year, nearly 36 at the time of the tour, he is well past his best now and will be further past it nest year. Now if Gatland wanted to take him as a non-playing captain, I would have no objections, he obviously has a wealth of experience.

Funnily enough, the comparison with Launchbury is apt, his supporters say exactly the same thing, tackles, rucks hit, carries etc. which is why I said that I would prefer Launchbury to go instead, he is now in his prime and currently does all the things AJW does, but better than he does now.

If Lions selections need and example set with regard to training, they shouldn't be selected in the first place, culture is something else and everybody has their own ideas about what that means and is.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:32 pm

Soul Requiem wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:
Soul Requiem wrote:I don't think AWJ was good enough to go in 2017 let alone next year if i'm honest, I always preferred Charteris for his physicality.

Itoje and Ryan look nailed on to be the starting second rows at the moment with Lawes likely to go providing he holds up physically, i'd expect Henderson to go as back five cover which leaves just one place. On current form Ball would be an option.

Charteris was an okay lock that had a few very good seasons at the tail-end of his career. He was utilised pretty well.

It's okay to not rate AWJ. Interesting that you mention 2017 as that's what I was referring to. The personal attacks on him on a daily basis were wide of the mark, I assume it was because the English wanted 4 of their locks to tour. Even Kruis having an absolute stinker and getting dropped wasn't enough to make you guys hush.

Ever thought of growing up and dropping this persecution complex?

I couldn't care less how many England players tour with the lions but you do ignore that Jones was garbage in that first test himself.

How is it persecution? The internet is forever, the evidence is still there laughing.

I don't recall that, probably because his garbage was greatly overshadowed by Kruis who then took over a season to recover his form. He was actually England's best lock going into that tour.

I'm not saying you'd do it but I think it's BS to say "I don't care how many <insert playing nation> players tour." We've seen some poor reactions to squad/test selection all-round since 2005. The Welsh were probably the most vocal in 2005, then it was everyone else over the next tours.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:35 pm

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:AJW is 34 now, he will be 35 next year, nearly 36 at the time of the tour, he is well past his best now and will be further past it nest year. Now if Gatland wanted to take him as a non-playing captain, I would have no objections, he obviously has a wealth of experience.

Funnily enough, the comparison with Launchbury  is apt, his supporters say exactly the same thing, tackles, rucks hit, carries etc. which is why I said that I would prefer Launchbury to go instead, he is now in his prime and currently does all the things AJW does, but better than he does now.

If Lions selections need and example set with regard to training, they shouldn't be selected in the first place, culture is something else and everybody has their own ideas about what that means and is.

That's a fair argument. I wasn't trying to rubbish Launchbury, in fact I don't really see any personal attacks on him. As I said, he's pretty good but I don't buy into the hype which IMO is a bit much. If Gats wants to select him over AWJ then I trust his decision.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:07 pm

Gatland wants a 'decider' with new zeland.

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Post by Mr Bounce on Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:09 pm

With all the "yes he should" - "no he shouldn't" arguments above about AWJ, whilst many would want him on the tour, there's one major factor that nobody is thinking about: injury. In his mid-30s, any injury he picks up will be more difficult for him to get over. If AWJ picks up a knee problem in the 2021 6 nations, he's going as a non-playing captain and nothing else.

It doesn't matter if he's a favourite of every Welshman and most of the Lions fans - if he's carrying an injury HE SHOULD NOT PLAY. Gatland has showed that he's no lover of longevity and what players have achieved in the past by dropping BOD for the 3rd test in '13.

It would be beneficial for the Lions to have AWJ on board, but I do not think it should be as a player. Whilst his leadership skills are beyond reproach, his skill set is starting to fade now, and I don't think that there is a Sprinbok who would be quaking to see his name on the team sheet.

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Post by Gooseberry on Tue Apr 07, 2020 11:11 pm

Then again Simon Shaw was way too old and past it in 2009.

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Post by 123456789. on Tue Apr 07, 2020 11:40 pm

Just seen the decider chat, one of the worst ideas going.
The All Blacks will have potentially played a rescheduled Rugby Championship, June Tests and Autumn series in quick succession next Autumn into Winter if some reports are to be believed. They'll have a settled team and a well trained team. The Lions will be a scratch side going into a warm-up against one of the best sides in the World. A crushing defeat would at worst derail the tour and at best leave a question mark over the tour.

Of course Gatland will be looking at it another way, beat New Zealand and beat South Africa on their own patch and he can leave the Lions behind with a positive record against every test opponent. He'll have been on the rehabilitating tour learning the Lions ethos from McGeechan in 2009. Turning them into a winning side in the decade that followed.

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Post by RDW on Wed Apr 08, 2020 8:45 am

Really not a fan of the tour decider chat, with literally the only reason for it being the money it would raise. From a rugby perspective it makes no sense.

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Post by Gooseberry on Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:06 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:Gatlands ego wants a 'decider' with new zeland.
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Jokes aside I think England showed that picking a team to beat SA based on how well they played against NZ is a terrible idea

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Post by Brendan on Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:52 pm

I wouldn't send Sexton at all.

He is too old, off form, not better than Farrell or Biggar.

It would be madness in my mind not to take Russel.  Against big sides you need the magic to unlock teams.  Our pack would be able to give him plenty of time on the ball, and no offence to Scotland but he wouldn't have the madness at 9 and better players 11-14 to use his magic.  Imagine what May could do with the Madness
And he does fine in the T14 against big teams

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Post by Guest on Wed Apr 08, 2020 1:00 pm

chris_501 wrote:AWJ is the epitome of a home fan player. As Welsh fans, we obviously watch him regularly, with a real keen interest in how he performs, (as we do with the other 14 Welsh players on the pitch). He doesn't provide many highlight reel moments, so the work he gets through can be missed, but that is his real strength, the sheer volume of tackles, rucks hit, carries. As well as the clear confidence he gives others as a top trainer and leader.

That's not to say that he is necessarily better than Launchbury, Gray, Henderson etc., just that a lot of his best stuff is maybe not front and centre. One of the reasons that Gats may take him on tour, is that in a short space of time, he will be setting the standards in terms of his approach to training, and in providing a culture that will run through the rest of the squad.

It's interesting how you describe AWJ.

I've always thought of him a bit like Joe Calzaghe, the boxer. Calzaghe was never really a highlight reel boxer either. He had his moments of course, as has AWJ with a few offloads and flash stuff, but by and large many people questioned Calzaghe. They mainly questioned his punch power, called him a slapper, doubted his ability, and said he ducked fights. Yet he beat everyone he faced, often outclassing them, and in hindsight he's now being rightly seen as one of if not the best British boxer and possibly one of if not the best white boxer of all time as well. That's some way from being seen as a slapper who ducked fights. He had a great chin, unbelievable hand speed, great movement, adaptability, and showed his character in the ring without running his mouth outside it.

I would compare him to AWJ for similar reasons. The thing that binds them together is that they don't have the knockout power of some of their contemporaries, but they are utterly relentless and ultimately very effective. AWJ can get knocked back in the tackle a few times but he'll still 'win the war', just like Calzaghe. It's AWJ's pressure at all the little things, his work rate (like Calzaghe's punch rate) around the field, his persistence at putting pressure on the opposition at any moment, and a way of grinding down the opposition in the carry, at the ruck, in defence and attack. And he's also very solid at the basics, in the lineout, passing and support play, great fitness, rarely misses a tackle. Like Calzaghe, he's not got a monster hit in him (e.g. Lawes), and unlike Itoje he probably isn't turning over the ball with the same ferocity and persistence of pressure, but after 12 rounds of Calzaghe's 'slapping' his opponents were always well and truly beaten on points, and the cumulative effect was starting to add up on their face and body as well. I see AWJ in exactly that same way, he's an 80 minute player who is relentless and a pain to play against, who doesn't translate well to a highlight reel. But he doesn't have a glass ceiling, there's no team he's come up against where he hasn't been able to do what he's good at, unlike some players like Launchbury who like a shadow of what they are playing for Wasps and sometime England because they can't make the step up as consistently. Add in AWJ's captaincy and what he adds to the players around him and that just adds to his quality.

I would be slightly surprised if AWJ doesn't tour but there appears to be 5 front runners in the lock position (Ryan, Itoje, Henderson, Lawes, AWJ) at the moment so it's by no means guaranteed. I got the sense he was on a post-RWC hangover this 6 nations as he didn't look in the best condition, a bit flabby his standards I thought looking at him in one press conference. The question is will the break be a blessing or a curse on the conditioning front for players like him. I wouldn't write him off just yet. There's no other lock who can do what he does so effectively.

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Post by Guest on Wed Apr 08, 2020 1:13 pm

123456789. wrote:Just seen the decider chat, one of the worst ideas going.
The All Blacks will have potentially played a rescheduled Rugby Championship, June Tests and Autumn series in quick succession next Autumn into Winter if some reports are to be believed. They'll have a settled team and a well trained team. The Lions will be a scratch side going into a warm-up against one of the best sides in the World. A crushing defeat would at worst derail the tour and at best leave a question mark over the tour.

Of course Gatland will be looking at it another way, beat New Zealand and beat South Africa on their own patch and he can leave the Lions behind with a positive record against every test opponent. He'll have been on the rehabilitating tour learning the Lions ethos from McGeechan in 2009. Turning them into a winning side in the decade that followed.

Gatland is a clever man. He knows where his bread is buttered. Even as Wales coach he knew he was always representing the Lions, hence being welcomed back a 4th time. He knows this is 'it' with the Lions and his bread is now very much buttered by the Kiwis. He's hoping for the All Blacks job in 2023, there's no question about that. Someone as ambitious and as talented as him wouldn't think or want anything else.

He's advocating for NZ to gain several million pounds from a one off game, at a time when NZ rugby is cash starved and suffering with the disruption to the rugby calendar. He gives the game legitimacy where just about anyone else suggesting it to the press would likely be laughed at.

No one will actually see this as a 'decider'. It's two completely different teams 4 years after the fact. But it also taps in to the winning mentality of not accepting a draw, which is probably something Kiwis feel stronger than us up here, who were both happier with the result in and of itself, and ok with a test series ending in a draw. Kieran Read was apparently asking for extra time to be added on at the final whistle which shows you the mindset they have there.

Even if it doesn't happen, Gatland has gained the good grace of NZRU and will likely get some good press coverage as a result. He's a savvy man who has learnt to use the media to his advantage for a while now, something Eddie Jones is perhaps still coming to terms with given the ferocity of the British press.

I doubt the game will happen but you never know. Whatever happens it's not really a 'decider'.

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Post by Kingshu on Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:21 pm

It would be a NZ walkover. Why not renew the Pacific Islanders rugby union team and play them. Also a composite team so should be a more even game that way, and give a much needed cash boost to PI rugby Unions. It truth since they don’t tour there ever a warm up game against them every tour should be arranged. Also Argentina shouldn’t be left out, traditionally the lions used to tour there, they should get a one of game at end of the series each tour.

With the schedule reduced to 8 from 10 games, I would schedule a warm up game against the PI team in UK/Ireland (home alternates round each union) 4 warm ups (next tour forget South Africa ‘Invitational as played PI instead) 3 tests, and stop for one off game V Arg on way home (not in UK/Ire, but in Argentina, HK, US where ever Arg agree), bring it up to 9 games (still less games than last tour to NZ) but makes money for host Union, home Unions plus Arg and the Pafic Islands.

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Post by 123456789. on Wed Apr 08, 2020 4:22 pm

I do think the Lions should look to incorporate Tier 2 games into their tour if and when possible. Each time they tour we see them play a scratch team of amateurs and journeymen pros. In 2017 it was the New Zealand Barbarians, in 2013 it was Combined Country and in 2009 it was the Royal XV. Why not scrap these games and replace them with matches against the Pacific Islanders either an individual nation or combined? Or when touring South Africa play Namibia. I think the one off game on the way home would be a tad unworkable, not least because the players want to kick back on the way home from the series and are all pretty broken. In principle I agree, tours could kick off with a send-off game against a European side, not France as we'd get beat on a first runout, but maybe Italy or Georgia, or Argentina like in 2005 or even the USA in time. When actually on tour playing matches against Super Rugby teams or local national teams only. In Australia where's there's only four Super Rugby sides, there may be even fewer by the time 2025 rolls along, there's a great opportunity to play a two-test series against the Pacific Islanders at the beginning of it. The Lions played their first test in the first weekend in June in 2017 and they'll play their first in the first weekend in July in 2021. In 2025 why not play Georgia as a 'send-off' in mid-June before flying to Samoa and playing a first-test against the Pacific Islanders and a second-test in Fiji a week later before flying to Australia. There's four super-rugby teams in Australia so they could play the first midweek in July, the second the following weekend, the third the midweek after that and the fourth the following saturday before the test series proper starts. The Test series would start the same weekend it is in 2021. They would have more meaningful games. More importantly, in recent years the Lions have benefited hugely from players of Pacific Islander descent. Tuilagi is of Samoan heritage, Sean Maitland is as Samoan as he is Scottish, Mako Vunipola is of Tongan heritage (as is Billy who would have toured in 2017 if it weren't for injury) and Faletau is Tongan too. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that all of them will tour next season, perhaps Bundee Aki and Joe Cokanasiga will go also.

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Post by Guest on Wed Apr 08, 2020 6:44 pm

I think money is the answer to both your questions.

The host nation always wants to milk the Lions for as much as they're worth. A midweek game in back country v journeymen may well be more beneficial to them than hosting the PIers in Auckland, or Namibia in Cape Town. I think the Lions will have to move away from the traditional tour structure for the suggestions to happen, but then if you lose a 3 test tour v one country, the jeopardy of the Lions and the modern 'need' for trophies and definitive winners gets lost.

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Post by Gooseberry on Wed Apr 08, 2020 8:18 pm

Brendan wrote:I wouldn't send Sexton at all.

He is too old, off form, not better than Farrell or Biggar.

It would be madness in my mind not to take Russel.  Against big sides you need the magic to unlock teams.  Our pack would be able to give him plenty of time on the ball, and no offence to Scotland but he wouldn't have the madness at 9 and better players 11-14 to use his magic.  Imagine what May could do with the Madness
And he does fine in the T14 against big teams

If Scotland could do without him and see an upturn in results I'm not sure he really has a lions spot nailed down.

Sexton will have next season to earn a spot. The extended break might be just wait he needed. As with AWJ at his best he gets in, but tired and broken it's a huge risk

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:05 pm

Interesting. Gatland must think NZ are slightly vulnerable with Foster in charge and really wants a good crack at them, I can see it going ahead. The Lions team will probably be very similar to what we saw in 2017. Sexton could well be there if he has a rest and stops being a petulant little child.

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Post by Cyril on Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:47 pm

I think SA would be pretty annoyed if that game took place. It would overshadow the tour.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:06 pm

Probably, money though.

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Post by 123456789. on Thu Apr 09, 2020 12:57 am

Farrell will tour there's no question on that.
Anscombe, Biggar, Ford, Russell, Sexton and maybe Hastings will battle it out for the remaining two slots. Gatland rates Anscombe and he trusts Sexton from two previous tours. If Farrell were to get injured then you are thinking about who you trust to run the game in its entirety. Sexton has done everything in the game and if he's still starting for Ireland I can't see him missing out. Russell is, I believe, the most naturally gifted fly-half in Europe at least. He also makes a lot of mistakes and there's the big question mark about his conduct off the pitch. If he is better than the options playing wise, then I'm not sure he's that much better to overcome the question marks about his temperament both on and off the pitch. There's the additional issue that, presuming he's fit when the squad is picked, Farrell will be going as one of the team's leaders. I think the big question with Russell is how he interacts with Farrell. If fit, Owen Farrell is one of the only guaranteed picks. If Russell wants to play a test he has to work with Farrell at 12. Off the pitch, Russell has shown himself to be a bit iffy with team standards. Farrell notoriously sets high standards. If Farrell's demanding more from Russell is Russell going to give more or tell Farrell where to stick it?

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Post by Guest on Thu Apr 09, 2020 11:29 am

A lot of the decisions will come down to who beats who in next year's Six Nations. Ford and Farrell are the front runners at the moment and then if there is a 3rd outside half (there might not be) I think Anscombe gets it. However Ford could easily miss out and Anscombe could be the second choice with a versatile option like Hastings filling in the midweek slot but I think Gatland will want a more reliable back up than Hastings, so someone like Biggar stands a good chance.

I think Carberry is more likely to tour as the creative type outside half than Russell. But all depends on how Russell performs back in the Scottish side. In terms of effectiveness I don't see a huge difference between Hastings and Russell to be honest and think one is underrated where the other is overrated.

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