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Potential Lions Squad - The Centres

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Post by bsando on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 11:38 am

This is a very tough position as there are so many talented and up and coming centres in the four home nations. Gatland took six centres to NZ and two of them were injured during the tour (Robbie Henshaw, Jared Payne) but will he take the same number this tour? With such a brilliant selection of players to choose from what will work best against the Boks? Which bolters may be pushing for selection after the 2021 6N?

Players listed from the 2019 RWC and 2020 6N squads.

England

Piers Francis, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Fraser Dingwall, Ollie Devoto

Ireland

Bundee Aki, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart McCloskey, Garry Ringrose

Scotland

Chris Harris, Huw Jones, Peter Horne, Sam Johnson, Duncan Taylor, Rory Hutchinson

Wales

Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Hadleigh Parkes, Nick Tompkins

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Post by bsando on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 12:00 pm

Personally I would like to see some strong, agile centres making the cut here.

12 - Owen Farrell, Sam Johnson and Bundee Aki - Backup - Robbie Henshaw
13 - Jonathan Davies, Gary Ringrose and Henry Slade - Backup - Huw Jones

Davies was deservedly the player of the tournament last tour and is still a class act for Wales. However, he will be 33 by the time the next tour beckons so will he still be at his best? Will his stellar career with Wales earn him a place on another tour? Also, what is going on with Tuilagi? Will he even be playing in Europe next year? And if not will he tour?

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 12:02 pm

The list of centres above is not great really with a number appearing past their peak.

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Post by bsando on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 12:09 pm

Yeah which is why it is going to make selection so interesting next year. I'm sure we'll see some new and exciting players making the tour who as of yet are only just breaking through to their respective national teams. For example, Devoto, Dingwall, Hutchinson, Tompkins etc.

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 12:10 pm

England

Piers Francis Not a chance, Jonathan Joseph Below 2017 form, and only scraped on the tour then, Henry Slade talented but not good enough, Manu Tuilagi who knows, will tour if fit I guess, Fraser Dingwall not a chance, Ollie Devoto not a chance

Ireland

Bundee Aki poor mans Manu, Chris Farrell average, Robbie Henshaw slowed down by injuries?, Stuart McCloskey big strong lad, type Gats likes, Garry Ringrose should go, huge talent, but perhaps deemed too lightweight for Gats

Scotland

Chris Harris god no, Huw Jones needs to be playing, at least for his club, unlikely to go, Peter Horne please no, Sam Johnson not seen enough to comment, Duncan Taylor, too old Rory Hutchinson hugely talented. but probably will not be playing for Scotland (with Gats selection foibles, could work in his advantage)

Wales

Jonathan Davies injuries and age will have slowed him down, will probably travel but we are in trouble if he is still the best option as he enters middle age, Owen Watkin tour probably a year or two too early for him, Hadleigh Parkes in Japan now?, Nick Tompkins still largely unproven

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Post by bsando on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 12:31 pm

It has been incredibly frustrating as a Scotland fan seeing Harris in the 13 shirt so often, but he has given his all and done well in his recent performances. A try against Italy, a break against France that resulted in a try. Not a flashy player but gets the job done and defends well. So Hutchinson may have to hope for an injury or drop in Harris's form when they return to playing.

Johnson is mr consistent for Scotland, but when he has an excellent game it's usually pretty exciting to watch. His try against England last year was incredible and his part in setting up the first try against France this year was very good too as was his intercept against Ireland. He's got slick hands and is very physical for his size which is why he's not been dropped since he got his chance. A great option to tour if you ask me because he gets that consistent game time at Glasgow and with Scotland.

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Post by Hazel Sapling on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 2:41 pm

Centres is a quagmire

Scotland - H Jones is out of form, Hutchinson needs to get international caps fast, Scott can't get a look in internationally, Bennett is getting there at club level and Harris has become an effective international, that is it. S Johnson is probably the form 12 in the UK at the moment and he is...fine. Scotland has not established a consistent partnership due to injuries, plenty of opportunity for someone to bolt

Wales - Tompkins is a good club player still finding his international feet, Parkes is gone, Watkins is not there yet and Davies is a 33 year old to be with a long history of leg issues. Gatland will probably take Davies if he shows any form though he could be an effective 12 if he has slowed down

England - Tuilagi is a definite if he is healthy/on form/available, Slade has been an effective outside playmaker for Exeter and England, Joseph is a good player who is not back to his best yet, Marchant has potential and anyone else has to come out of nowhere

Ireland - Aki is a big runner who has established himself at Ireland though there are questions on whether McCloskey or Henshaw should be starting (big fan of McCloskey personally). Ringrose has been injury prone as well as Henshaw and C Farrell is not up to standard. McCloskey is accused of not having...defensive (?) ability. I don't understand why McCloskey has not been tried

As of today I have
Davies, Johnson, Tuilagi, Slade, Aki
This is the most open position. Only two of those (Tuilagi and Slade) do I feel any confidence of being picked, maybe Davies you can make a case. Owen Farrell, Daly, North may be considered as centres so reckon five will go. I would reckon Hutchinson or H Jones (whoever can take the 13 jersey from Harris), Tompkins, Marchant or Joseph (whoever can take the back-up 13 jersey from Slade), Ringrose and Henshaw are the favourites to bolt.

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Post by tigertattie on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 4:42 pm

Anyone who thinks Sam Johnson will tour is delusional

Since his breakout year he's been solid at best. Blunt is another way to describe it.

He's not going to get passed Farrell (12 internationally), Henshaw, Aki or even Hadleigh Parkes in the eyes of Gatland. Hell, you'll see George North in the centre for the lions before you see Johnson.
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Post by bsando on Mon 06 Jul 2020, 6:09 pm

I feel like we Scots are now so used to our players being rebuffed when it comes to the Lions tour that we find it hard to even talk them up anymore. I refuse to believe Johnson is "fine" or that I am delusional for thinking he should tour. He is a brilliant inside centre for Glasgow and Scotland. And that's coming from an Edinburgh fan!


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Post by TJ on Tue 07 Jul 2020, 9:52 am

Johnson is the only scot in with a shout I would say. He is much better than Tiger tattie seems to think IMO

Great form, makes good breaks and is mr reliable.

Bennett an outside chance but needs to show a run of form first.

The last 5 years we have developed loads of class centres but they keep getting broken or losing form

But again - its not about who are the best players its about who suits Gatlands game plan

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Post by bsando on Tue 07 Jul 2020, 11:46 am

It'll be interesting to see what Gatland's plan is going to be like for the Boks. Wether he fights fire with fire or he try's to add a bit of spark and creativity in the backline with a large pack to provide some quick ball.

I forgot to mention Jospeh in my centre picks but he is one I like a lot for England when he's on form. Bennett is brilliant when on form too but like you say TJ he really needs to kick on at Edinburgh and get back in that Scotland 13 jersey for any chance at Lions selection.

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Post by dummy_half on Tue 07 Jul 2020, 1:48 pm

It's really not a terrifically inspiring set of centres, especially if Farrell is likely to be picked as the Test starter at 10 (which i think Gats will go with).

Tuilagi is the one who has a real X-factor, but him being fit is as rare as rocking horse droppings. I prefer him at 13, as he gets a bit more space and his limited distribution is less of an issue.
Ringrose is a very capable 13, and I like Huw Jones as an attacking option, but his form fell off a cliff last year. Tompkins is very green at international level - does some very good work in attack but some poor work in defence. Joseph could make it if he gets back to his best form.

As for 12, Johnson may be the best available, but perhaps doesn't suit Gatland's tactics and preferences. I can see Aki being the first choice.

I think one of Slade or Daly will make the broader squad as cover for the centres, fullback and in Slade's case also 10 (midweek / replacement only)

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Post by Mr Bounce on Tue 07 Jul 2020, 9:21 pm

I have to say that the centres are not filling me with a huge amount of excitement. From Wales, I have never rated Parkes, but he is a Gatland favourite. The Lions is about the best of the best, and Parkes doesn't quite make that level. Davies has in the past been exceptional. He has not hit his previous levels and has been beset with injuries. However, if he's fit, I think Gatland brings him - I just hope he doesn't go if not at his best. He is class, after all, but he could just as easily be a liability. Tompkins I think is too raw, but could be a midweek selection as he's shown flashes of brilliance.

I really like Ringrose in the Ireland set-up. I would be surprised if he's not in the reckoning. Bundee Aki I feel is a bit like Ross Moriarty in that he's a blunt instrument who does things well but does nothing outstanding. Ask him to run at Damian De Allende all day and he'll do it until one of them breaks. Again, I think he'll tour, but a test player? Doubtful. Henshaw will be on the plane in my book. Farrell is a big lump, and Gatland likes his centres blunt and bruising. As his game time has been fairly limited, I think I am more likely of a centre berth (note, I was 3rd choice loosehead at Under 13 lever at school).

Of the Scots, I am really struggling to pick anyone other than Sam Johnson. None of the others have been on form or reached a standard that, in my eyes at least, is likely to warrant a selection.

Which brings me on to my team, England. We appear to have 4 outstanding 13s available. Tuilagi is the most likely pick, on the proviso that he's fit. He has covered 12 to suit England's game plan of the moment and should be the first pick given his destructive nature. Slade is in my eyes the best 12 we've never had. He has that versatility to play in either of the centres, as well as filling in at 15 for England, and has in his younger days at least, been a 10. He should tour. Joseph has those magic feet. Trouble is he hasn't played that much internationally in the last 12 months as the first and second choices (Tuilagi and Slade) have been fit and firing. Marchant is a wild card. He's definitely one for the future. Another who can create something from nothing. And finally, Daly is worthwhile of a mention at 13 too, but only in the 23 shirt.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 07 Jul 2020, 10:03 pm

TJ wrote:Johnson is the only scot in with a shout I would say.  He is much better than Tiger tattie seems to think IMO

Great form, makes good breaks and is mr reliable.

Bennett an outside chance but needs to show a run of form first.

The last 5 years we have developed loads of class centres but they keep getting broken or losing form

But again - its not about who are the best players its about who suits Gatlands game plan

If your players are as class as you always make out then you’d probably have more wins - especially against Gats old team. But you don’t.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 07 Jul 2020, 10:07 pm

I think Farrell is the 12 option in Gatland’s and most peoples mind. That doesn’t mean somebody can’t shift him over though. Along with Farrell I would select Johnson, Ringrose, Tuilagi and Davies. 

McCloskey is a very good player but for some reason isn’t considered the best 12 in Ireland when he probably is. I can’t see him going unless he is given the opportunity to properly establish himself in the Ireland team.

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Post by TightHEAD on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 7:41 am

LondonTiger wrote:England

Piers Francis Not a chance, Jonathan Joseph Below 2017 form, and only scraped on the tour then, Henry Slade talented but not good enough, Manu Tuilagi who knows, will tour if fit I guess, Fraser Dingwall not a chance, Ollie Devoto not a chance

Ireland

Bundee Aki poor mans Manu, Chris Farrell average, Robbie Henshaw slowed down by injuries?, Stuart McCloskey big strong lad, type Gats likes, Garry Ringrose should go, huge talent, but perhaps deemed too lightweight for Gats

Scotland

Chris Harris god no, Huw Jones needs to be playing, at least for his club, unlikely to go, Peter Horne please no, Sam Johnson not seen enough to comment, Duncan Taylor, too old Rory Hutchinson hugely talented. but probably will not be playing for Scotland (with Gats selection foibles, could work in his advantage)

Wales

Jonathan Davies injuries and age will have slowed him down, will probably travel but we are in trouble if he is still the best option as he enters middle age, Owen Watkin tour probably a year or two too early for him, Hadleigh Parkes in Japan now?, Nick Tompkins still largely unproven



So negative. Rolling Eyes

We all know Gats has his favourites. Wales drumroll

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Post by RDW on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 8:50 am

mikey_dragon wrote:
TJ wrote:Johnson is the only scot in with a shout I would say.  He is much better than Tiger tattie seems to think IMO

Great form, makes good breaks and is mr reliable.

Bennett an outside chance but needs to show a run of form first.

The last 5 years we have developed loads of class centres but they keep getting broken or losing form

But again - its not about who are the best players its about who suits Gatlands game plan

If your players are as class as you always make out then you’d probably have more wins - especially against Gats old team. But you don’t.

I don't think it's an unreasonable comment from TJ - he's hardly singing from the rooftops about the Scottish centre options or demanding their selection. And he's completely accurate in saying we've had some class centres BUT they keep getting broken or drastically losing form.

Alex Dunbar - outstanding for a few seasons around 2016-2018, with teh 2017 6N a real standout, struggled with injuries the last few years and has basically disappeared now
Matt Scott - Ditto, potentially has a chance for an international rebirth if he can put a consistent run of games together with Leicester. Has had years of interrupted seasons due to injury.
Mark Bennett - World young player of the year nominee after a scintillating 2015 world cup and subsequent season, then completely destroyed his knee and hamstring (on separate occasions) so basically didn't play for several years and is only just getting back to his old self
Huw Jones - probably the best attacking centre in the NH in 2017-2018 with some famous tries against England, NZ and Australia in particular, form fell off the cliff after. Showed glimpses of his old form recently.
Duncan Taylor - held in huge regard by his Saracens teammates and was a key player for Scotland for a short time but has a brutal run over injuries stretching back several years.

The funny thing is our most consistent players of the last season or two - Johnson and Harris - are the least flashy players of that whole bunch! That maybe says something....

They're also probably the closest players we have that would fit in a Gatland coached team. I don't see either touring though, unless they have a strong 6N.

Personally I would currently go with Tuilagi, Henshaw (I think he's better than Aki), Ringrose, Tompkins (as a midweek dynamo) and perhaps a JJ or Slade, depending who is on form. I'd be amazed if JD2's body holds out until then. I would agree with the general sentiment on this thread that none of the options are overly inspiring just now.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 10:28 am

I'm not sure, the only ones who have looked remotely class happen to be from Aus and SA and even one of them has struggled with consistency. Not just an issue up your way obviously, with many other teams looking to recruit overseas for their midfield - it's something I gladly welcome given the lack of decent centres coming through in Wales. Our class centre (Davies) will go if fit and probably start, anyone who thinks otherwise needs to give their head a wobble Very Happy.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 10:30 am

Was gatland always due to work through this period with his club or is it just because of covid that's hes coaching?

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 10:31 am

And regarding Scottish selection, well it's been documented the reasons why by the man himself. It looks to be more of the same now unless Scotland do something magical next season. I would pick a few more Scotland players to go this time though, as I have been doing on these threads.

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Post by alive555 on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 11:30 am

Realistic Shortlist IMHO

England

Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi

Ireland

Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose

Scotland

Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, (Rory Hutchinson bolter)

Wales

Jonathan Davies
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Post by TightHEAD on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 1:19 pm

Farrell will be there, these games will be brutal and you'll need a decent kicker at 12.
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Post by BamBam on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 1:30 pm

Warren Gatland's shortlist

England - Tuilagi
Scotland - what is Scotland?
Ireland - Aki
Wales - Davies, Parkes, Tompkins, Roberts, Henson, Gibbs

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 2:37 pm

Well theres likely to be no farrell from a coaching perspective so perhaps ringrose isnt going to be pushed as much. Marchant is down under got a pretty decent write up from an earlier game perhaps he has a very outside shout. Farrell is going to be 12 realistically.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 4:38 pm

BamBam wrote:Warren Gatland's shortlist

England - Tuilagi
Scotland - what is Scotland?
Ireland - Aki
Wales - Davies, Parkes, Tompkins, Roberts, Henson, Gibbs

Yep and you'll be crying about it until 2025. Probably until 2029 too, given you're still crying about 2013 - notice these go in cycles? Wink

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 5:03 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Well theres likely to be no farrell from a coaching perspective so perhaps ringrose isnt going to be pushed as much. Marchant is down under got a pretty decent write up from an earlier game perhaps he has a very outside shout. Farrell is going to be 12 realistically.

Marchant has a better chance than most to impress Gats right now.

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Post by BamBam on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 6:04 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:
BamBam wrote:Warren Gatland's shortlist

England - Tuilagi
Scotland - what is Scotland?
Ireland - Aki
Wales - Davies, Parkes, Tompkins, Roberts, Henson, Gibbs

Yep and you'll be crying about it until 2025. Probably until 2029 too, given you're still crying about 2013 - notice these go in cycles? Wink

Glug glug glug, mikey keeps drinking brains rather than using his

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 6:08 pm

Keep crying Milky.

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Post by BamBam on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 6:36 pm

Can we set mikey up with a breathalyser before he's allowed to log in?

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 7:04 pm

Away tbf I do moan every time I have to out up with gatland coaching a team I support.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 7:40 pm

Lost in the vote, still crying and taking it out on Mikey  laughing

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Post by BigGee on Wed 08 Jul 2020, 8:28 pm

Bambam and Mikey, please stop this and please take this as a warning

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Post by chris_501 on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 7:40 am

No use taking Welsh centres, they only win player of the tour every other tour Whistle

Realistically, I think Farrell will be 12, the other candidates for that shirt are not up to the level of out other 10s. The 13s I like are Manu, Davies but particularly Ringrose. I think he has the makings of a top class 13, hopefully a good run for Ireland will cement his place in the squad.

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Post by bsando on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 12:55 pm

In terms of bolters, who do the respective home nations have coming through? I like the look of Dingwall at Northampton and Tompkins has looked sharp in attack for Wales despite a few defensive errors and that intercept pass. Any decent young Irish, Welsh and English centres pushing for international call up soon?

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Post by BigGee on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 1:03 pm

Not so much young bolters, but if either Hutchinson or Bennett could nail down that 13 shirt for Scotland then either of them could come into the bolter category

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Post by NeilyBroon on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 1:04 pm

bsando wrote:In terms of bolters, who do the respective home nations have coming through? I like the look of Dingwall at Northampton and Tompkins has looked sharp in attack for Wales despite a few defensive errors and that intercept pass. Any decent young Irish, Welsh and English centres pushing for international call up soon?

Dingwall has aligned himself to England... so I guess he's an up and coming English centre as opposed to Scottish!

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 1:22 pm

bsando wrote:In terms of bolters, who do the respective home nations have coming through? I like the look of Dingwall at Northampton and Tompkins has looked sharp in attack for Wales despite a few defensive errors and that intercept pass. Any decent young Irish, Welsh and English centres pushing for international call up soon?

For me, Joe Marchant is the most likely bolter from England, certainly more so than Dingwall. That he is currently (apparently) playing well in Auckland will be helping his case.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 1:39 pm

Marchant could be if we're even bothering with bolters. I don't think we have since Earls. Is Marchant featuring often now? I think I seen one start and once on the bench.

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 1:52 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:Marchant could be if we're even bothering with bolters. I don't think we have since Earls. Is Marchant featuring often now? I think I seen one start and once on the bench.

Looks like he played in every game he was there for, but his loan spell ended on 30th June. Should Manu choose to play outside of England, I hope Marchant would be in the frame to play for England - which would then give him a chance to push his case.

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Post by bsando on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 1:59 pm

He looks a lively player from the Highlights I've seen. Seems to love getting on the end of a grubber and his aerial game looks very impressive too which I think is such an important part of rugby now.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 2:59 pm

LondonTiger wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:Marchant could be if we're even bothering with bolters. I don't think we have since Earls. Is Marchant featuring often now? I think I seen one start and once on the bench.

Looks like he played in every game he was there for, but his loan spell ended on 30th June.  Should Manu choose to play outside of England, I hope Marchant would be in the frame to play for England - which would then give him a chance to push his case.

I was referring to Aoteaora, I noticed that Iaone was preferred at 13. Is Marchant returning to Quins?

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Post by chris_501 on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 8:10 am

bsando wrote:In terms of bolters, who do the respective home nations have coming through? I like the look of Dingwall at Northampton and Tompkins has looked sharp in attack for Wales despite a few defensive errors and that intercept pass. Any decent young Irish, Welsh and English centres pushing for international call up soon?

If we are talking about real bolters, the two I would say are Ben Thomas from Blues or Olly Lawrence from Worcester. Lawrence looks like a Manu MK2, so if the big guy gets injured again, you never know.

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 10:53 am

mikey_dragon wrote:
LondonTiger wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:Marchant could be if we're even bothering with bolters. I don't think we have since Earls. Is Marchant featuring often now? I think I seen one start and once on the bench.

Looks like he played in every game he was there for, but his loan spell ended on 30th June.  Should Manu choose to play outside of England, I hope Marchant would be in the frame to play for England - which would then give him a chance to push his case.

I was referring to Aoteaora, I noticed that Iaone was preferred at 13. Is Marchant returning to Quins?

He had one start and one bench in the Aoteaora. Yes back at Quins now.

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Post by funnyExiledScot on Sat 11 Jul 2020, 10:12 am

My 6 centres:

Aki, Henshaw, Slade, Tuilagi, Ringrose and JD2.

I'm starting Farrell at 12 in the Tests, with Tuilagi at 13 (Russell at 10).

Slade or Ringrose on the bench.

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Post by Sharkey06 on Sun 19 Jul 2020, 12:59 am

The big question is who is 10. Can Sexton make another tour and if so will Gats pick him ahead of Farrell? I think Farrell will go as 10, Tuilagi if fit is a certainty. JD2 was outstanding on the last 2 tours, but I think falls into the BOD category - not good enough to pick if others are fit. A Tuiagi and Ringrose partnership looks very inviting.

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Post by rugby racing and beer on Fri 04 Sep 2020, 2:34 pm

This is a position where bolters can break through just because there aren't too many players who are nailed on and those who are suffer with injuries.

Tuilagi and JD2 are the only guarantees as I see it. Age and wear and tear is catching with both in different ways. I'd put more money on Tuialgi starting tests than JD2 at this stage but both could easily be the starting pair and Tuilagi's physicality might free up JD2 to bring back some of his deceptive running game to go with his defence.

Jonathan Joseph should tour as well given his ability but after that it's much of a muchness. I don't see the hype around Ringrose but he will likely go as he's good at the basics without being exceptional at anything. Henshaw is flattering to deceive at the moment but has a lot of potential. There are plenty of Scottish centres who do some things well and a lot of things poorly. Huw Jones being the perfect example. Wales have big question marks any bolters like Johnny Williams or Haloholo could end up taking the 12 shirt this season and putting their name in to contention.

Aki will tour as the midweek Tuilagi. Henry Slade is class and might go as a versatile option and with Farrell filling in at 12 as well this could mean only 5 'true' centres tour (Jared Payne for example played in the back 3). Slade can also play 10 against the weakest midweek opposition if that is still necessary.

- Tuilagi
- JD2
- Ringrose
- Henshaw
- Aki
- Slade

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