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Potential Lions Squad - The Backrow

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Post by bsando on Wed 10 Jun 2020, 12:31 pm

First topic message reminder :

I thought it would be fun to do a few Lions threads specifically on positional areas of a potential 2021 squad. I'll break these down into 6 different threads.

The Front Row
The Second Row
The Back Row
The 9's and 10's
The Centres
The Back Three

What better place to start than the back row with an extraordinary amount of competition from the four home nations.

I've listed the backrow options for each home nation by players who have featured in the RWC 2019 and 6N 2020 squads who have not yet retired. Feel free to add others into the equation, but for the sake of simplicity I've kept the list of players to these two squad lists.

England

Mark Wilson, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlum, Ted Hill, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels

Ireland

Jack Conan, Jordi Murphy, Peter O'Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, C. J. Stander, Josh van der Flier, Will Connors, Max Deegan, Caelan Doris, Jack O'Donoghue

Scotland

Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson, Luke Crosbie, Cornell Du Preez, Nick Haining, Thomas Gordon

Wales

James Davies, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau

In 2017 Gatland selected 9 back row players in his squad. The following players, Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty, Peter O'Mahony, C. J. Stander, Justin Tipuric, Billy Vunipola were selected in 2017 and are featured in the players above.

Which nine players would you select from the players above and which three players would you call up in the case of injury?

Then, who do you think Gatland and his potential coaching team will select and which three players would they call up in the case of injury?


This is also an opportunity to look at other home nations players and ask any questions about a player you may not be familiar with. From experience it is very easy to focus on your own nations squad in the lead up to a Lions year so it would be great to learn more about some of the potential talent from other home nations and who may become a potential bolter in the coming year. thumbsup Ale

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Post by king_carlos on Mon 15 Jun 2020, 1:07 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
king_carlos wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:KC - Thats exactly how i feel. i think Hill looks an absolute monster in the making at blindside...and ive even said i would be interested to see what a switch to 8 would make of him. He has ALL the attributes.


My one worry with Hill currently is his speed at getting back to his feet and in the defensive line after making a tackle, similar to my concerns with Dombrandt. That's largely conditioning and positioning though which both have time to learn.


Wasnt that largely an issue with Billy V when he first came on the scene. His actual fitness and conditioning. That was fixed pretty quickly...so im sure Hill can be (if that is the issue) Dombrandt im less convinced on....need to see how he goes.
True. When Billy first broke through with Wasps he was a bit lighter and quicker. His early Wasps appearances he made some breaks in the wider channels that were more reminiscent of Dallagio than his style in more recent years.

Sarries and England both have pretty simple game plans when it comes to using one out carries to build momentum and manufacture good positions to box kick from. Billy seems to have tailored his conditioning and carrying to those game plans. He's done so brilliantly as well. Just injury that has prevented him doing it consistently. I must say I'm worried about his long term future with his arm breaks. That said I was also worried about Watson returning from his achilles and knee injuries at the same level, if anything he's played better than ever since regaining fitness.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Mon 15 Jun 2020, 9:10 pm

No idea why James Davies or O'Mahony would be anywhere near these lists.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 10:36 am

mikey_dragon wrote:No idea why James Davies or O'Mahony would be anywhere near these lists.

Yes and why is Charlie Ewels listed for England...he a lock...and a lock that should be nowhere near the England squad.

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Post by LondonTiger on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 10:42 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:No idea why James Davies or O'Mahony would be anywhere near these lists.

Yes and why is Charlie Ewels listed for England...he a lock...and a lock that should be nowhere near the England squad.

Because the initial list included everyone who has played in the back row (starting or from bench) during the current 6Ns.

What are the rules defining eligibility for the Lions? I assume UK or Irish citizens who opt to play for an outside country (ie Jake Polledri) are not eligible?

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Post by king_carlos on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 11:54 am

LondonTiger wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:No idea why James Davies or O'Mahony would be anywhere near these lists.

Yes and why is Charlie Ewels listed for England...he a lock...and a lock that should be nowhere near the England squad.

Because the initial list included everyone who has played in the back row (starting or from bench) during the current 6Ns.

What are the rules defining eligibility for the Lions? I assume UK or Irish citizens who opt to play for an outside country (ie Jake Polledri) are not eligible?
To play for the Lions you need to be eligible for one (or more I guess) of the home nations. So UK citizens like Polledri who have been capped by a country outside the home nations aren't eligible. Polledri is a brilliant player that England have really missed out on.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 12:21 pm

Players like Polledri should simply not be eligible...they play for a non home nation,.

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Post by king_carlos on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 1:09 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:Players like Polledri should simply not be eligible...they play for a non home nation,.
Polledri isn't available GF!

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 1:18 pm

I know...i was merely saying it shouldnt be..as per LT's question above...?

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Post by king_carlos on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 1:40 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:I know...i was merely saying it shouldnt be..as per LT's question above...?
Ah fair. Yep I'd agree it should only be home nations players as are the rules. I think LT was just asking about how eligibility works rather than saying he thinks players such as Polledri should be available though to be fair.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 2:06 pm

Ah yeah...i didnt think he was suggesting those players should be in....

Otherwise Tomaso Allan would have been a lions legend.... Whistle Wink

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Post by LondonTiger on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 9:15 pm

To be fair I see more merit in Polledri being a Lion than Riki Flutey, but no was not suggesting his inclusion.

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Post by funnyExiledScot on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 7:42 pm

9 is a bit generous, but mine would be:

6.Curry, Wainwright and Ritchie
7.Underhill, Tipuric and Watson
8. Faletau, Vunipola and Stander

I think Gatland will take 7, with the two Scots noted above being dropped.

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Post by alive555 on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 8:35 pm

Probably drop watson and Ritchie and replace with navidi plus Moriarty
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Post by Mr Bounce on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 11:10 pm

From a physical point of view, Ross Moriarty could be ideal for the Boks tour. He's a real blunt instrument of a player, brutal and effective and hard as nails. He doesn't do anything flash, but if you want someone to tackle hard and run at everything to soften them up, then he's the man to do it.

There are better all-round players out there, but a physical 6? Big Bad Ross works for me.

As for Big Billy, I've said in another thread that I think he's now a busted flush. I don't think he'll tour. Plus his brother either needs to learn how to scrummage or should be nowhere near the test team...

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 11:35 am

alive555 wrote:Probably drop watson and Ritchie and replace with navidi plus Moriarty

Why?? Hes absolute class and a mini tank!

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Post by alive555 on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 12:15 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
alive555 wrote:Probably drop watson and Ritchie and replace with navidi plus Moriarty

Why?? Hes absolute class and a mini tank!

Cause hes not welsh
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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 12:42 pm

Sorry yes...i missed that point Wink

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Post by Soul Requiem on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 12:50 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:9 is a bit generous, but mine would be:

6.Curry, Wainwright and Ritchie
7.Underhill, Tipuric and Watson
8. Faletau, Vunipola and Stander

I think Gatland will take 7, with the two Scots noted above being dropped.

I'd be picking going with eight myself;

Curry, Underhill, Navidi, Watson and Tipuric, one of Ritchie/Wainwright, Stander and whoever is fit out of Vunipola and Faletau.

As a blunt force instrument I think the lions could do worse than Mark Wilson, has the bulk and work rate to hold his own.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 1:07 pm

As a falcon you imagine what i think of Mark...but im not sure he'll travel.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 1:29 pm

Ritchie could be Scotland's best hope in the back-row if he is seen as a blind-side. Watson might miss out due to the strength we have at open-side. I wouldn't leave out the Vunipola's either, I imagine they would be in or around the test team.

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Post by funnyExiledScot on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 10:32 pm

I don't see Ritchie making it. I really do rate him highly, he never has a bad game, but Curry and Wainwright are going, and I think Gatland will want Stander as cover for the two creaking 8s, Faletau and Vunipola (and remember Stander was a deserved MOTM against Scotland this season).

Our best bet is Watson, who could become a Lions cult hero, but he's up against Underhill and Tipuric (and Leavy if he can get fit), plus Curry can play 7, so it's a red hot contest and Gatland does tend to favour those he knows (so Tipuric, a very handy player, has an edge).

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 10:35 pm

I probably wouldn’t take Wainwright myself. Good player but I actually think we might have better open-sides at Dragons, not just the rest of Wales.

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Post by funnyExiledScot on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 10:49 pm

I always considered Wainwright a blindside, and the reason I listed him so highly was that Gatland name checked him when discussing the tour.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 24 Jun 2020, 9:35 am

Just another 7 we have who plays across the back-row pretty well.

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Post by funnyExiledScot on Wed 24 Jun 2020, 5:53 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:Just another 7 we have who plays across the back-row pretty well.

There are a few like that this time. Curry and Ritchie are both equally strong at 6 and 7, as is Navidi.

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Post by Poorfour on Mon 13 Jul 2020, 11:06 am

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:I would be very surprised if Gatland picked Dombrant, he, like Jones wants his players to have exceptional work rates and fitness. Dombrant by comparison with the others has neither. Great at premiership level but not in SA. He is slow to get out of the tackle and back in a defensive position and just does not do the defensive work the others do. Great ball in hand , makes going forward look easy, scores tries, has good hands, however EJ has dropped him from the squad get togethers, presumably with some words on what he has to work on.

I suspect that his type of back rower is now defunct, in international rugby anyway. A number of these new laws brought in to help restart the game will probably stick, this is going to make the "hybrid" players like Earl and the Curries the favoured ones. Mobility, work rate, good core skills, these are going to be what coaches look for.

I'd also be surprised if Gatland picks Dombrandt, but it is clear that he's been listening to Eddie and working on the stuff he's been asked to work on. In the last few games before lockdown, he'd raised his workrate considerably. Ben Kay called out one sequence in particular where he made three tackles in succession. A season and a half ago he was playing university rugby - basically what he's lacking is the aerobic fitness that comes from being in a fully professional environment. If he can address that, then I think the game has plenty of use for a big, fast guy with strong positional instincts and great hands, even under the revised breakdown interpretation.

Whether that's enough to meet Gatland's selection criteria, or Eddie's, is a separate question. It could well be that Curry is the model for the future... but I think we could also see much more volatility in the back row. Lockdown has given a lot of players a chance to recover from injury and work on specific skills or fitness needs, and the change in the interpretation will require new behaviours. Who adapts and who doesn't will be very interesting to watch. You'd expect the Curries, Underhills and Ritchies to find the change quite natural, but we may be surprised by which other players step up and which struggle.
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Post by Sharkey06 on Sun 19 Jul 2020, 12:54 am

This is Gats so you are going to have Faleteau and Vunipola. Probably Stander as the reserve/reserve no 8. Curry, Underhill, Watson and Navidi should be certainties - not only great players but generally able to play a couple of positions. I think people talking about Wilson or POM are dreaming (subject to injuries), as I don't see them anywhere near a Lions team. I think we could see a wildcard in the backrow - I don't know who but there are a few Irish. Welsh or English players in the mix.

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Post by rugby racing and beer on Fri 04 Sep 2020, 2:25 pm

Underhill is nailed on to start probably at 7 but could play 6. Curry looks likely to join him on the other side. The obvious pick is then Faletau to add a bit more subtlety between those 2 but Vunipola will obviously tour if fit as well (big if though). With Faletau's injury problems that puts Stander in a great position to play against his home country.

I can see Moriarty and Navidi fighting for one position as the versatile back rower who can cover 6 and 8. I can't decide who should go between the two but if forced to pick I'd take Moriarty for his physicality.

Tipuric should tour and seems likely to be a midweek captain. Hamish Watson stands a chance if someone gets injured but won't go ahead of Tipuric unless he plays extremely well for Scotland in the remaining tests this season. Ireland have plenty of possibles but no probables at this stage though someone is likely to tour on the basis of good 6Ns form. Ritchie is an outside but not unreasonable bet but given the depth in England of Hill, Willis, Dombrandt etc it's hard to see how Gatland won't simply lift whoever is playing for England in to the Lions squad. Wales have a few other options like Ellis Jenkins but injuries seem to be the biggest issue in Wales. I can't see Wainwright touring but Gatland does like him. I haven't seen anything from him to suggest Lions quality however I think he's behind Moriarty, Navidi, Tipuric, and Faletau in the Wales pecking order and probably behind Ellis Jenkins as well.

It's all about physicality against the Boks and England have that where other countries don't to the same extent.

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