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Lions Announcement - Round 2

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Thu 06 May 2021, 1:01 pm

First topic message reminder :

Forwards: Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Luke Cowan Dickie, Tom Curry, Zander Fagerson, Taulupe Faletau, Tadhg Furlong, Jamie George, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones, Wyn Jones, Courtney Lawes, Ken Owens, Andrew Porter, Sam Simmonds, Rory Sutherland, Justin Tipuric, Mako Vunipola, Hamish Watson.

Backs: Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Dan Biggar, Elliot Daly, Gareth Davies, Owen Farrell, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart Hogg, Conor Murray, Ali Price, Louis Rees-Zammit, Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Anthony Watson, Liam Williams.

Lions Announcement - Round 2  - Page 3 Lions_10
Lions Announcement - Round 2  - Page 3 Lions_11

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Post by Collapse2005 Thu 06 May 2021, 6:01 pm

bsando wrote:2021 Lions squad by club representation

Saracens  Daly, George, Itoje, Vunipola, Farrell
Exeter Hogg, Simmonds, Cowan-Dickie, Hill
Northampton Lawes, Biggar
Gloucester  Rees-Zammit, Harris
Bath  Watson, Faletau
Sale Curry

Racing 92 Russell

Edinburgh Van Der Merwe, Watson, Sutherland
Glasgow Price, Fagerson

Leinster Porter, Henshaw, Furlong, Conan
Munster Murray, Beirne
Ulster Henderson
Connacht Aki

Scarlets Williams, Davies, Owens, Jones
Ospreys Jones, Tipuric
Blues Adams

Bit of a joke how many Sarries players got picked given the form
of their players, also two England guys who havent played international rugby in a while.

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Post by doctor_grey Thu 06 May 2021, 6:12 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:Don't forget Dalys best position is Actually probably 13...so he can cover...or maybe even force his way in there. He's also got a monster boot and can play wing very well.....full back not so.
I had actually forgotten. He was a very good 13 and came up to the England squad at 13 before being moved. Maybe being adaptable has actually hurt him a bit? Henshaw and Daly? Could be worse....

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Post by Sharkey06 Thu 06 May 2021, 6:23 pm

doctor_grey wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:Don't forget Dalys best position is Actually probably 13...so he can cover...or maybe even force his way in there. He's also got a monster boot and can play wing very well.....full back not so.
I had actually forgotten.  He was a very good 13 and came up to the England squad at 13 before being moved.  Maybe being adaptable has actually hurt him a bit?  Henshaw and Daly?  Could be worse....

Reasons for Daly:

1. As a minimum Daly is a useful midweek player as he can play 10 – 15.
2. Daly played on the wing for the Lions in 2017 and looked a much better player than he has ever done at fullback. If he is competing for a test spot I expect it to be on the wing and not fullback.
3. He has the biggest boot out of hand and off the tee of probably any current home nations player, which with games at altitude is a useful asset to have.

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Post by nlpnlp Thu 06 May 2021, 6:32 pm

Looking at the kicking stats on a certain website - admittedly for 2020 - Finn Russell comes some way down the list.  So there seems to be a lot of reliance on one of Biggar or Farrell being on the pitch to do the kicking. Farrell hasn't got a big kick, Biggar to be fair has quite a bit boot, so Daly is an 'interesting' weapon to have on long range penalties.  Likewise Hogg from memory has quite a big boot.  But with neither Daly or Hogg being regular kickers even at club level, we do look a bit light off the tee.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 06 May 2021, 6:52 pm

Hogg can kick it a long way, but from recollection he doesn't actually land many of the long rangers.

I do agree though that we wouldn't want to be depending on Russell's place kicking in a Lions Test. I think Russell's test chances rely on Farrell showing something other than rancid form at 12.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 06 May 2021, 6:56 pm

BigGee wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:

I'm stunned that Harris makes it over Ringrose. Harris had a fine 6 Nations, but plenty Scots, including myself, think Harris is lucky to start for Scotland. I'm less surprised by Daly, and I know he's versatile, but I wouldn't have picked him either..


I think a lot of Scots used to think like that FES.

For a long time he could not do anything right, purely because he was not Huw Jones and did not score coast to coast tries. I think most of us have come round to him now though, as he has been quietly excellent for many games now, very consistent and makes other players look good, even if he does not do the fancy stuff himself. One thing we are going to have to do to get a result out there is be defensively solid and he was probably the best defensive OC in the 6N. There are plently of flare players in this squad, but every succesful team needs its grafters as well.

I think he would have gone even if George North had been fit and it would have been Aki that missed out.


All very fair points, albeit Ringrose and Davies are also handy in the defensive department and offer more in attack in my view.

He had a great 6 Nations so it's hardly a big shock, and Toonie rates him highly. It wouldn't have been my call, but I certainly hope he continues his 6 Nations form on the tour.

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Post by doctor_grey Thu 06 May 2021, 6:57 pm

Let’s assume for the moment Biggar is the starting 10. Do you put Farrell on the bench? Or Russell? Or neither, assuming Hogg can move up to fly half if needed? And that would put Williams on the bench. Unless I am missing someone, they don’t seem to be many other options off the bench.

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Post by cb Thu 06 May 2021, 7:04 pm

No one from Bristol who are top of the premiership!

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 06 May 2021, 7:06 pm

doctor_grey wrote:Let’s assume for the moment Biggar is the starting 10.  Do you put Farrell on the bench? Or Russell? Or neither, assuming Hogg can move up to fly half if needed? And that would put Williams on the bench.  Unless I am missing someone, they don’t seem to be many other options off the bench.

I would have Russell on the bench. He's a game changer. Don't see much point in subbing Farrell for Biggar, or vice versa.

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Post by TJ Thu 06 May 2021, 7:06 pm

doctor_grey wrote:Let’s assume for the moment Biggar is the starting 10.  Do you put Farrell on the bench? Or Russell? Or neither, assuming Hogg can move up to fly half if needed? And that would put Williams on the bench.  Unless I am missing someone, they don’t seem to be many other options off the bench.

Russell on the bench to shake things up if needed

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Post by funnyExiledScot Thu 06 May 2021, 7:08 pm

cb wrote:No one from Bristol who are top of the premiership!

...and three from Edinburgh Yahoo

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Post by Collapse2005 Thu 06 May 2021, 7:23 pm

Happy for the Scots fans that they got a good haul this time and well deserved. Look forward in particular seeing how Watson shapes up.

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Post by Collapse2005 Thu 06 May 2021, 7:26 pm

Its a bit of an odd squad but look forward to seeing some good matches.

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Post by Collapse2005 Thu 06 May 2021, 7:37 pm

cb wrote:No one from Bristol who are top of the premiership!

Was anyone other than Sinkler realistically in the running?

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Post by hawalsh Thu 06 May 2021, 8:05 pm

doctor_grey wrote:Let’s assume for the moment Biggar is the starting 10.  Do you put Farrell on the bench? Or Russell? Or neither, assuming Hogg can move up to fly half if needed? And that would put Williams on the bench.  Unless I am missing someone, they don’t seem to be many other options off the bench.

I don't reckon Gatland intends to give Russell a single minute of a test match. Gatland's style and the overall selection, I think he's planning on starting Farrell at 10 with Biggar on the bench, or Biggar starting with Farrell shifting Henshaw to 13.

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Post by takethelongroad Thu 06 May 2021, 8:15 pm

On seeing the squad today my first thoughts are positive. Until today it’s likely that only the Scots on this forum will have much experience of the dejection around their selections not making the cut (numbers of Scots on the previous 5 tours have been low enough to insulate the remaining home nations from feeling this too often). Over the past twenty years or so this has been a genuine sore point and one that I don’t think was sympathetically understood by other supporters, Now the squad is balanced for all teams and that goes two ways, firstly we all have players from ‘our’ team to enjoy watching them develop as they blend with their new teammates, secondly as a result of a balanced representation from all nations it means for the first time that every one of the home nations now has a few key players that they feel are missing. This is no bad thing as this time we are all united by that. On that basis, squabble today by all means but this is our team and I am thoroughly excited by its prospects. Let’s see what the test side looks like.

Of note I am surprised by the omission of CJ Stander, I had him in over Conan. Daly makes sense to cover most of the back line from the bench and has a big hoof when needed. Hill over Gray was also not what I expected but happy to learn what he brings to the mix. As for Chris Harris - to quote the great squidge rugby: ‘surprise m*tha f*cka!’ I reckon he’ll make the test side. Discussion welcomed. Really looking forward to this summer.

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Post by Collapse2005 Thu 06 May 2021, 8:46 pm

If Stander is already back in SA Id say he stands a good chance of a call up (unless Gatland has a bunch of Welsh guys on stand by)

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Post by RDW Fri 07 May 2021, 12:04 am

takethelongroad wrote:On seeing the squad today my first thoughts are positive. Until today it’s likely that only the Scots on this forum will have much experience of the dejection around their selections not making the cut (numbers of Scots on the previous 5 tours have been low enough to insulate the remaining home nations from feeling this too often). Over the past twenty years or so this has been a genuine sore point and one that I don’t think was sympathetically understood by other supporters, Now the squad is balanced for all teams and that goes two ways, firstly we all have  players from ‘our’ team to enjoy watching them develop as  they blend with their new teammates, secondly as a result of a balanced representation from all nations it means for the first time that every one of the home nations now has a few key players that they feel are missing. This is no bad thing as this time we are all united by that. On that basis, squabble today by all means but this is our team and I am thoroughly excited by its prospects. Let’s see what the test side looks like.  

Of note I am surprised by the omission of CJ Stander, I had him in over Conan. Daly makes sense to cover most of the back line from the bench and has a big hoof when needed. Hill over Gray was also not what I expected but happy to learn what he brings to the mix. As for Chris Harris - to quote the great squidge rugby: ‘surprise m*tha f*cka!’ I reckon he’ll make the test side. Discussion welcomed. Really looking forward to this summer.

Excellent post - you should come here more often! Hug

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Post by RDW Fri 07 May 2021, 12:26 am

Well due to time zone difference I've A) actually been able to watch the announcemeht and B) have then slept on it before posting my thoughts on here. Worth saying the downside to the time difference is that just when the Lions tour is on UK timezone I'm not there!

Firstly as a Scotsman it's great to see us having such a large representation, and what's even more pleasing is they all have a genuine claim to be there (well, probably not Price but there were no clear standouts at 9). For the last few years 12 has been Scotland's problem position, so the thoguht of those Scottish backs with Henshaw at 12 and Williams at 14 is pretty tasty!

As for the squad, I think there's a clear plan and criteria for the forwards that have been selected, but I'm worried about the backs who are all over the place in terms of styles and abilities. There is very little time to see which style is going to be taken forward for the tests.

Forwards

For me there's a clear gameplan forming here based on the players selected

Front row - all decent enough scrummagers but also very good around the park.
Second row - all are lineout specialists, with set piece being so important in SA especially. J Gray may have missed out as he's not a top lineout man, and Hill and Lawes are.
Back row - all are very athletic, dynamic and good over the ball. Conan the exception but you need a big carrier in South Africa. It's clear we're going to attack the breakdown.


Backs

I'm worried about how the backline will gel, as there's a huge difference in playing styles within that group.

For example you could pick a territory based, kicking and aerial battle backline of:

9 Murray
10 Biggar
11 Williams
12 Farrell
13 Daley
14 Watson
15 Hogg

Or you could pick a much more attacking backline in

9 Price
10 Russell
11 VDM
12 Henshaw
13 Harris (he's not really an attacking 13, but we don't really have that in the squad)
14 LRZ
15 Hogg

And the thing is, to beat the bocks I don't think either of those backlines really work although it would certainly be more exciting to watch the second one!

Kicking and aerial game is going to be key, but I also think we have the edge on SA in the attacking stakes so we shouldn't neglect that. It's going to be enthralling to see what happens with Finn vs Biggar - the difference in those two sums up in a microcosm the issue I'm talking about with the backs. Can you build a gameplan that works within both of their abilities? Of course there is a bit of generalizing going on here as Biggar does have a lot of attacking abilities and Russell is also becoming an outstanding kicker from hand these days, and both are top defenders.

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Post by Rugby Fan Fri 07 May 2021, 12:55 am

I've seen the squad described as a "snub" or "giant two fingers" to Eddie Jones. That sounds like over reach to me. The only selection which really cuts against recent England policy is Simmonds. Given Owen Farrell is in the squad, when many pundits were raging against him, you could just as easily argue the squad endorses the way Jones views the player.

Similarly, Jones has usually tried to find places for Daly and Lawes when they are fit, so I doubt he'll feel snubbed by their selection. Hill is a bolter, yet Jones was giving him a run. He probably wanted from the player what Gatland wants from him now, so it's a bonus for England if Hill can rise to the occasion, as pretty much everyone agreed he had a mediocre Six Nations.

The real shot across the bows would have been selecting Danny Care. I believe he was sounded out on availability, so it's not impossible he'll play a part if there are injuries. Not sure if Marcus Smith was asked, thought it makes a bit of sense if the Quins pair was seen as a unit, just as Russell's selection probably helped Ali Price. If Russell can't make the tour, it'll be interesting to see whether Gatland goes for Sexton, or more of a flair option. You'd imagine Sexton would be next in line of Biggar or Farrell go down.

It sounds like Elliot Daly is actively being considered as an option in the centre, which I would love to see. It was disappointing when Malins pulled out against Ireland, as Daly was finally set to get a start in the centre again.

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Post by doctor_grey Fri 07 May 2021, 3:54 am

Rugby Fan and RDW,
Like your posts and you laid things out nicely. It must be brilliant because I agree with most of it!

My main points are:
I did not see Hill as an England level second row, so certainly not as a Lion. Front row should be on par with the Boks but no better, which is still quite good. The back row should be very good (universal agreement there, eh?) and the real strength of the team, just like most successful teams. And I don't get the logic behind bringing Courtney Lawes unless he is the late game replacement for AWJ, who might not last a full 80 at altitude.

I don't see Ali Price except as a pairing with Russell. I truly think Care would be a much better option, especially to close out a game, chase a game, or simply annoy the opposition. Matching him with Russell off the bench could actually blow people's minds. I see Biggar as hands down the starting 10, and frankly don't like the Farrell selection at all. In my opinion, he has regressed somewhat and does not play what is in front of him, doesn't bring the outside players into the game and still doesn't have his temperament under control. We know something is not right when he is captain and was told not to talk to the ref in a 6 Nations match. Centres consist of Henshaw and who? In this context Daly does make sense though I would not have thought so originally. Just not at 15! The wings will be fine and I would prefer VDM and Watson, but LRZ will need a go at some point. And how does Williams not get some meaningful game time? Hogg is 15 or whatever he chooses to do.

Will be fun.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 07 May 2021, 6:59 am

Sleeping on it does not make it better. Daly...ffs. In better news for Chiefs fans their form has really swing around for them recently.

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Post by RDW Fri 07 May 2021, 7:01 am

https://www.planetrugby.com/five-big-lions-selections-and-the-reasons-for-them/

Some more detail of the selection decisions here. Daley in for his long distance kicking.

Lawes was the surprise 37th man and is seen as a blindside...not sure about that one.

Sutherland and Fagerson got the nod due to the Scottish scrum having the lowest penalty count in the 6N.

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Post by Rugby Fan Fri 07 May 2021, 7:19 am

RDW wrote:...Lawes was the surprise 37th man and is seen as a blindside...not sure about that one...
Lawes was on the Eggchasers podcast, and said he thought blindside might be his best position on tour. Of course, that might partly be because he assumes AWJ and Itoje are likely to be starting locks. He has played that role for England before, starting 11 Tests at blindside, and coming on as sub in a further 7.

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Post by RDW Fri 07 May 2021, 7:24 am

Rugby Fan wrote:
RDW wrote:...Lawes was the surprise 37th man and is seen as a blindside...not sure about that one...
Lawes was on the Eggchasers podcast, and said he thought blindside might be his best position on tour. Of course, that might partly be because he assumes AWJ and Itoje are likely to be starting locks. He has played that role for England before, starting 11 Tests at blindside, and coming on as sub in a further 7.

That's fair enough, but I remember numerous post game chats in here where England fans reflected with anger that it didn't work having Lawes at 6! Mainly due to England getting well beaten at the breakdown from memory

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 07 May 2021, 7:32 am

Lawes with Vunipola does not work at all because its so slow. Will faletau be better? Or is it for Simmonds.

Re daly, its always nice to have a long kicker and if its a 50 50 that skill may sway you. Its not 50 50 though and if he's played in midfield it will be a disaster defensively. Also if anyone can be arsed go back and watch Dalys open play kicking vs south africa in the 1st 2 tests at altitude. He was one of the main reasons South Africa turned it around and won those 2.

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Post by TJ Fri 07 May 2021, 7:42 am

RDW wrote:
Rugby Fan wrote:
RDW wrote:...Lawes was the surprise 37th man and is seen as a blindside...not sure about that one...
Lawes was on the Eggchasers podcast, and said he thought blindside might be his best position on tour. Of course, that might partly be because he assumes AWJ and Itoje are likely to be starting locks. He has played that role for England before, starting 11 Tests at blindside, and coming on as sub in a further 7.

That's fair enough, but I remember numerous post game chats in here where England fans reflected with anger that it didn't work having Lawes at 6! Mainly due to England getting well beaten at the breakdown from memory

My guess is that beirne is the man for this job and the selection is based around that. lawes gets the nod as he can play the same role

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Post by RDW Fri 07 May 2021, 7:46 am

Aye a Bierne-Watson-Curry backrow would be turnover-tastic!

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Post by Gooseberry Fri 07 May 2021, 8:00 am

RDW wrote:https://www.planetrugby.com/five-big-lions-selections-and-the-reasons-for-them/

Some more detail of the selection decisions here. Daley in for his long distance kicking.

Lawes was the surprise 37th man and is seen as a blindside...not sure about that one.

Sutherland and Fagerson got the nod due to the Scottish scrum having the lowest penalty count in the 6N.

Given the Lions are short on quality depth at full back and in the centres combined with the importance of utility backs for a tour squad and bench (especially if he goes for a 6 2 split) I hardly think Dalys inclusion should come as that much of a shock. Sure theres maybe a few winger/fullbacks who have made a stronger case in the past year but he's still a quality player and few offer the versatility that he does, and he was a core part of England when they were successful. Gatland apparently watched him at Nottingham and believes he's sharp and on form, and also cited that he's strong against blitz defence which is what he expects SA to play. The long range range kicking is the bonus that swings it. A really useful tool when playing against SA both for territory and potentially taking penalties dependant who is at 10. Interesting as well that he mentioned Daly having a left boot, that can make be handy to cover one side of the field with a right footer on the other. Maybe a case of a guy he had pencilled in a year ago and just believes in, but also some very specific attributes tailored to how he wants to counter SA and specific roles in a squad.


Leaving out Sexton is hardly a shocker, although given the fly halves that are going a case could be made for Gatland having taken him anyway. Biggar just isnt good enough, the 6 nations showed everything thats wrong with Russel, and Farrells been dire. Its a real problem position for the Lions. SH is hardly dripping with proven world class talent either, and the center options really all look like the sort of players who you'd see as squad options rathe than starters. Seems the Scotland pair were picked for their ability to tackle direct runners.

AWJ ... 6 months ago I think there would be a lot more upset about the decision. But he is a good captain and will have the natural authority and respect needed to bring together a team, and did find another gear to step up his performance levels through the winter just in time. Im not 100% excited that it makes him difficult to drop from the starting test side and still sceptical as to whether he has it in him to match the intensity levels the Lions will need, but we will see.

Overall its really not that controversial a squad, there was always going to be more players who look like weak links than glaring omissions. The NH teams seem in a weird transitional state at the moment, where there's a number of new raw players sticking their hands up but haven't done enough for long enough to prove they are good enough/make their cases for this tour and a lot of players who seem to have fallen off a cliff.


I wouldnt rate their chances very highly if it werent for the fact that SA as a team havent played for so long and that so many of their players are short of top level club games too. If its controversial to pick Saracens players then SA have a much bigger issue.



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Post by Oakdene Fri 07 May 2021, 8:16 am

Soul Requiem wrote:
Oakdene wrote:
Soul Requiem wrote:
Oakdene wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:Tipuric is an interesting one for me. Not many people have him down as a starter, but he is massive for Wales, not only for what you might expecting like the break down, and link play, which he is absolutely excels at, but he is Wales go to man in the lineout.

His work in the lineout is second to none. Which is another area that the Boks target.

Never missed a tackle for the Lions either, 107 from 107.

107 from 107 in one test is some going.

I don't think I said it was in one test.

He's played all of 25 minutes for the test team.

Yet still he hasn't missed a tackle out of 107 tackles he has made for the Lions....

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Post by formerly known as Sam Fri 07 May 2021, 8:28 am

RDW wrote:Aye a Bierne-Watson-Curry backrow would be turnover-tastic!

Not only turnover tactic but the Bok attack is pretty simple. Big runners from the pack and from IC off of 9 and 10 to generate momentum then hit the pace guys outside. If they don't get the momentum they kick. The BWC backrow should be a nightmare to play against and should slow the turnover time right down and force more kicking.

You'd then hope a Williams/Hogg/A N Other back three can use those kicks as a chance to counter attack.

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Post by George Carlin Fri 07 May 2021, 8:39 am

takethelongroad wrote:On seeing the squad today my first thoughts are positive. Until today it’s likely that only the Scots on this forum will have much experience of the dejection around their selections not making the cut (numbers of Scots on the previous 5 tours have been low enough to insulate the remaining home nations from feeling this too often). Over the past twenty years or so this has been a genuine sore point and one that I don’t think was sympathetically understood by other supporters, Now the squad is balanced for all teams and that goes two ways, firstly we all have  players from ‘our’ team to enjoy watching them develop as  they blend with their new teammates, secondly as a result of a balanced representation from all nations it means for the first time that every one of the home nations now has a few key players that they feel are missing. This is no bad thing as this time we are all united by that. On that basis, squabble today by all means but this is our team and I am thoroughly excited by its prospects. Let’s see what the test side looks like.  

Agree 100%. I would just like to invite fans from other nations to take the disappointment they may feel at a preferred player not being selected and then extend that feeling over 20 years' of Lions tours where Scotland fans gamely turned up to cheer on the team anyway. Seriously now, just take a moment to imagine that feeling when you love the game desperately, which we all do.

And then imagine that you need to read this in the morning's papers:
Scottish players in Lions squad are not good enough to play in the Test team
Neil Francis
Irish Independent
May 07 2021 02:30 AM

In the lead-up to the announcement of the Lions squad, I happened upon a video call with Gregor Townsend which was part of the Sky build-up to the event. Townsend is never short of something to say, yet in this interview he seemed a little sheepish and the body language told you something about what was to come.

Gregor said “nationalities come well down the list of priorities” when it comes to selection of the Lions squad. We now know that statement to be utter bulls**t and when the team was announced Townsend had pulled off one of the great performances of his coaching career.

The Scottish coach is the only current head coach of a Six Nations side who will actually tour with the Lions in July and August and, as such, he made sure that he got as many of his countrymen on the plane with him – none of whom deserve to get on the Test side.

Townsend had a couple of steri-strips on a cut over his right eye. Rare for a coach to be sporting war wounds – maybe Johnny Sexton clipped him one when he knew what the composition of the team was going to be.

Hands up who got all 37 names right before the squad were announced? Ireland and their prospective players were hamstrung on two fronts – firstly, they had nobody at the selection table and, secondly, Leinster’s non-performance over in La Rochelle at the weekend.

On that basis, a lot of the players would have been preparing for the worst, but it is absolutely galling to note that the majority of 50-50 calls went the way of a Scottish player and that sticks in the craw.

Scotland finished fourth in this year’s Six Nations, fourth again in 2020 and fifth in 2019, which is effectively last! They have not beaten Ireland in that period. The Scottish Pro14 teams finished eighth and ninth in that championship and were never even remotely competitive. Yet, they get eight players into the Lions squad on the back of their coach’s recommendation and also on the basis that they may win something soon.

There are a number of big tech companies on the stock market and particularly on the NASDAQ with hugely over-inflated share price values. These companies have never made a penny of profit, their valuations are based not on what they are doing now but what they might do in 10 years’ time. This is Scotland.

It is true that they beat England in Twickenham and France in Paris but Ireland and Wales have been doing that for years. Indeed, just about everybody beat England this year and France, when it became obvious that they could not win the championship by scoring enough points, they gave up the ghost. It was a gritty and stoic performance, but eight Lions? Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey!

It was interesting to see that the schedule has not been officially confirmed yet, so we still don’t know what sort of a run-in the Lions will get before the Test series begins. Anything can happen on a tour and form can change and players who were dead certs can fall away as evidenced by James Ryan and Johnny Sexton who were ‘definite’ selections to at least travel during the Six Nations.

None of the Scottish players who have been included are starting Test standard. If you ask me, I think Liam Williams is a far better player than Stuart Hogg and Warren Gatland will definitely pick him in the full-back slot.  

Gatland too will not risk the whole Test series on the vagaries of some lunar alignment in Finn Russell’s head or how he feels when he gets out of bed on the day of the Test match.

I was delighted to see that Simon Harris, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, was selected to tour on the back of some outstanding form over the last few seasons …

“It’s not Simon Harris, it’s Chris Harris you say.”

“Who the hell is Chris Harris?”
“Anything to do with Keith Harris & Orville?”
“Chris Harris?”

“We don’t know either.”

An incredible selection. I don’t quite know how somebody can get in on the back of being a great defender, but the Lions midfield looks very light and sure there were issues with Manu Tuilagi, Henry Slade, Garry Ringrose and Jonathan Davies. After dropping Brian O’Driscoll in Australia in 2013 and replacing him with Jonathan Davies, Gatland now drops Davies in favour of Chris Harris – that is the selection call of the decade. Wazza has an annoying habit of getting these calls right, though.

Bringing Duhan van der Merwe makes me sick to my stomach and you can only feel sorry for somebody like Johnny May, left out for a Saffer who is worse than hopeless under the high ball. Ali Price is the worst original selection pick at scrum-half for decades. Everybody poo-pooed the thought of Danny Care going along as a bolter, but the Harlequin would be a vastly better option than the Scottish scrum-half.

Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are not particularly likeable people and they have questionable disciplinary issues on the field and that would seem to have cost them dearly because, in terms of talent and ability, they are way ahead of Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland.

Gatland himself has a little bit of history with Sinckler but the Englishman played well in the Test series against New Zealand and has been an ever-present in the England side since that tour.

However, he did not distinguish himself off the field in New Zealand and was called an emotional ticking time bomb by Gatland in 2019. If the head coach doesn’t like you, irrespective of your ability, then that is that. Townsend may have suggested that his players, although inferior in ability, might be handy to have on tour and so the Scots get another two in.

Hamish Watson also gets a seat on the plane. He was voted as the player of the tournament in this year’s Six Nations by the fans. However, every time Edinburgh play against Leinster he seems to be blown off the pitch by Josh van der Flier.

Either way, neither of the two are big enough, or good enough, to go to South Africa. Van der Flier was the best of a bad lot against a monster La Rochelle pack last Sunday and that is the type of task ahead of the Lions this summer – trying to subdue a monster pack.

The South African back row that won the World Cup in 2019 consisted of Siya Kolisi, Pieter Steph du Toit and Dwayne Vermeulen, savage beasts and huge men. Gatland, again if I know how he thinks, will not be putting a groundhog in against that lot.

It was a populist selection and one I can’t believe Gatland concurred with Townsend on. It makes the non-selection of Sam Underhill all the more surprising.
Congrats to all the Irishmen who made it and we will await news on the green non-selections before we comment. Scotland go brea!
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Post by RDW Fri 07 May 2021, 8:51 am

That's a spectacularly ignorant and disrespectful article GC! Staggering.

Is Neil Harris actually Matt Williams / Eddie O'Sullivan?

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Post by BamBam Fri 07 May 2021, 8:56 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:'Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are not particularly likeable people'

Who he of course knows. I'm going to start calling a spade a racist.

Why has this been reported?

Shame it doesn’t tell you who reports these things openly as the like and dislike system does. Would be very illuminating

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Post by formerly known as Sam Fri 07 May 2021, 8:57 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:'Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are not particularly likeable people'

Who he of course knows. I'm going to start calling a spade a racist.

https://www.ruck.co.uk/ellis-genge-praised-for-classy-bit-of-sportsmanship/

Yeah horrible bloke that Ellis. Not sure what Sinckler has done either and to say both have poor disciplinary records? That's somewhat bizarre as is the whole take a pop at the Scots thing. A very angry article that one, is that intentional or does he just need some help with issues?

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Post by lostinwales Fri 07 May 2021, 8:59 am

RDW wrote:That's a spectacularly ignorant and disrespectful article GC! Staggering.

Is Neil Harris actually Matt Williams / Eddie O'Sullivan?

I don't know but suspect he posts on here

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Post by Soul Requiem Fri 07 May 2021, 9:09 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:'Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are not particularly likeable people'

Who he of course knows. I'm going to start calling a spade a racist.

I'm discounting the racial element but do wonder if it's also a class issue. It's pretty well known that Genge in particular has been pretty vocal about the issues he's had in rugby coming from a working class background and as such he and Sinckler are judged differently.

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Post by lostinwales Fri 07 May 2021, 9:15 am

Soul Requiem wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:'Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are not particularly likeable people'

Who he of course knows. I'm going to start calling a spade a racist.

I'm discounting the racial element but do wonder if it's also a class issue. It's pretty well known that Genge in particular has been pretty vocal about the issues he's had in rugby coming from a working class background and as such he and Sinckler are judged differently.

Good point. Neither came from 'good' backgrounds and both have worked very hard to get where they are. The discipline thing always gets me about Genge in particular. He is a real wind up merchant on the pitch but for all the apparent aggression is actually very controlled. Sinckler is hugely enthusiastic, less controlled but unless I am missing something, genuinely likeable.

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Post by BamBam Fri 07 May 2021, 9:16 am

Its also remarkable that he appears to think that Townsend had all that power to subvert the selection in favour of Scotland as a mere backs coach, but so many were apoplectic at the thought that Gatland had done the same for Wales previously while the overall head coach!

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Post by Collapse2005 Fri 07 May 2021, 9:19 am

formerly known as Sam wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:'Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are not particularly likeable people'

Who he of course knows. I'm going to start calling a spade a racist.

https://www.ruck.co.uk/ellis-genge-praised-for-classy-bit-of-sportsmanship/

Yeah horrible bloke that Ellis. Not sure what Sinckler has done either and to say both have poor disciplinary records? That's somewhat bizarre as is the whole take a pop at the Scots thing. A very angry article that one, is that intentional or does he just need some help with issues?

They are both liabilities, I wouldnt have picked them either. Possibly Sinkler but he does concede his fair share of pens.

In general though Neil Francis just writes articles to wind people up so no need to get too excited about what he says. The Scottish players deserve their places. I wouldnt have picked Russell this time around or probably Harris either but they are still worthy of their place as they both offer something different.


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Post by Oakdene Fri 07 May 2021, 9:22 am

Genge hasn't really stood out at international level for me. Sinkler would have been there or there abouts but I feel he gives away too many penalties.

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Post by BamBam Fri 07 May 2021, 9:27 am

For the avoidance of doubt I wouldn't have taken Genge either. Jones, Sutherland and Marler would have been my top 3 looseheads.

I'm just fed up of these comments about attitude only being directed at certain players. Biggar is one of the most petulant little sods in NH rugby, but he never gets comments like those

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Post by formerly known as Sam Fri 07 May 2021, 9:29 am

Collapse2005 wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:'Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are not particularly likeable people'

Who he of course knows. I'm going to start calling a spade a racist.

https://www.ruck.co.uk/ellis-genge-praised-for-classy-bit-of-sportsmanship/

Yeah horrible bloke that Ellis. Not sure what Sinckler has done either and to say both have poor disciplinary records? That's somewhat bizarre as is the whole take a pop at the Scots thing. A very angry article that one, is that intentional or does he just need some help with issues?

They are both liabilities, I wouldnt have picked them either. Possibly Sinkler but he does concede his fair share of pens.

The lack of cards and suspensions show they are not.

The whole England team gave away too many penalties this 6N. You could say that about every England player pretty much. Neither have previously and don't for their clubs. Sam Warburton spent last week's game Vs Ulster saying how he'd definitely make space in the squad for Ellis.

I had Sinckler down as a banker personally, Genge was more 50/50 as he hasn't managed to bring his club form to international rugby. Scrum work is fine but his carrying could go up another level for me. The fact Genge wasn't even sent an email is very surprising. Townsend has apparently said he consulted no England coaches about selection which if the other Lions coaches followed suit might have meant they didn't have the best view of some of those players. You'd assume Gatland when trying to talk Borthwick back into coaching the Lions again would have talked about Gengey but maybe not.

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Post by RiscaGame Fri 07 May 2021, 9:31 am

Everybody must know what kind of "writer" Francis is. He always likes to throw a few grenades about, all in the name of clickbait. He even helps generate clicks for Wales Online, before most Wales v Ireland games.

I wouldn't read any of his output or certainly not get wound up by it. It's his MO.

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Post by Collapse2005 Fri 07 May 2021, 9:35 am

I agree there were too many English players selected Sam, it certainly wasnt on merit for some of them. Genge was a very lucky boy not to get cited after the Ireland game. He then proceeded to play the victim when interviewed about it on the good the bad and the rugby podcast. He came across as a total sulk and a difficult character. The props selected  bar Mako are all there on merit and are playing better so neither Genge nor Sinkler can feel too aggrieved.


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Post by Gooseberry Fri 07 May 2021, 9:38 am

If Genge and Sinckler arent going because of their lack of self discipline how the hell did Marler get a call over them?


Its certainly one of those positions where the Lions have actually got some depth, whilst also not really having players who are clearly 100% deserving ahead of the others, for those two it does seem a case that their test performances in the past year, compared to those picked, have maybe tipped the balance. The penalty count thing may have counted against certain players, but Itoje is still going so ...

But also think it comes down to what Gatland specifically wants from his props and who he thinks will best deal with the SA scrum style. Im happier with this that we are talking about good players left out rather than mediocre ones being included which is the case for may other positions.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Fri 07 May 2021, 9:44 am

I really don't see the fuss with Genge, why is he even in the Lions debate? He's England's 3rd choice loosehead and has struggled on the international stage, there's arguably 7 or 8 better available options.

Sinckler on the other hand.....I'm very surprised he's not in, I don't get that one at all.

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Post by Collapse2005 Fri 07 May 2021, 9:47 am

Sgt_Pooly wrote:I really don't see the fuss with Genge, why is he even in the Lions debate? He's England's 3rd choice loosehead and has struggled on the international stage, there's arguably 7 or 8 better available options.

Exactly.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Fri 07 May 2021, 10:20 am

Genge is struggling to justify his place in the England squad at the moment...theres no way he should be considered for the Lions. Marler is a top class scrummager and fringe defender. Still Englands number 1 prop by quite a way.

Sinkler just looks too casual and laid back for my liking these days. Casually strolls up to scrums etc. Its like he's lost all his fire and aggression.

Will Stuart should be working his b*lls off on his scrummaging technique and he could over take Sinkler as starter for England.

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Post by Collapse2005 Fri 07 May 2021, 11:29 am

I suspect some posters enjoy reading Neil Francis' articles more than they would like to admit. He is not meant to be a thoughtful, diplomatic journalist that presents carefully written feel good, socially aware pieces. He blurts everything in his head onto the page, his articles are always laced with grenades and thats why they are popular. I dont think they are meant to be taken seriously.

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