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South Africa vs British & Irish Lions - Test 1

BPM

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The rubbish spouted on here about AWJ is ridiculous. It's repetitive, boring and 99% of the time completely baseless. The guy put in a shift today with very similar stats to his MoM partner in the boilerhouse. Yes Itoje secured a couple of key turnovers in the first half, but AWJ was huge in the mauls, both offensive and defensive - one of the key victories for me today. At one stage in the second half he forced his way through the heart of the feared SA maul to stop it dead, followed by working extremely hard at the front of the next Lions maul that went forward but for Ken to be forced into touch. On top of this he was the captain who steered the ship extremely well, taking the correct options at the right times, such as going for the corner for the Lions try; and managing the ref (or the touch judge on this occasion) very well.

And yet some of you would see him dropped! I feel like those who criticise him in every thread involving Wales or the Lions need to change their tune. The guy is approaching 160 test matches including 10 consecutive tests for the Lions and he's been superb in most. He had a quiet year or so around the 2019 WC/2020 6 nations, but otherwise he's been colossal for Wales and the Lions ever since his debut back in 2006.

It all just gets very old and is one of the reasons I think why there's so few quality Welsh posters anymore. Any that start posting here are jumped on by a handful of regular posters who spout the same nonsense over and over (same thing happens with Tipuric, could have done with him today, let me tell you!), and then they leave. I still post occasionally, but mostly check-in every day, probably just out of habit really after 15 years of being part of this community, and it really is tiresome to see this circle-jerk of misinformation about some of the legends of Welsh rugby who deserve far better.
To be fair, I think a lot of it is in jest - certainly when it comes to Tipuric.

Re. AWJ, I’m really not sure you’re helping your argument when you suggest his performance was ‘similar’ (based on stats alone) to Itoje’s who was demonstrably better. In a way, I think this highlights what many people (myself included) find irritating re. AWJ. His champions are always citing intangible qualities like ‘managing the ref’ or comment on basic things I’d expect from a test lock like ‘he disrupted a maul’.

Essentially, it’s comparing Itoje’s conspicuous influence on the game with AWJ’s often inconspicuous contribution. To be clear, I am not saying he is a bad player or had a bad game and he is clearly an influential leader. I’m just trying to explain why many question why he’s so highly rated when the main positives are that he does the basics very well and has vast experience to lean on in a leadership role. Whether those things warrant a place in the team is questionable IMO.

Does he deserve more respect? Yes. Should he be an automatic pick and captain? No.
 

BPM

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Actually I thought of a better comparison …

The media (until very recently) were the champions of Owen Farrell the undroppable ‘Ice Man’ at 10 for England and he was lauded for things I’d regard as standard for a test fly half (or centre). However, English rugby fans were much more muted in their praise and have never really understood why he is so highly rated by so many. If anything, we often lead the criticism of him on boards such as this.

It’s a very similar media love fest with AWJ, except the Welsh don’t seem to be able to recognise why he’s not universally feted.

If AWJ happened to be English, there is no way the Welsh posters would be demanding his unquestioned inclusion.
 

anderton46

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I think you include him as he is dependable, and he works well with Itoje, in the sense you have a guy who can do the highlight reel stuff, and AWJ will just not make mistakes and work hard and effectively giving Itoje a bit of free reign.

But no, at this point in his career he doesn't tend to have those big game moments.
 

dullonien

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To be fair, I think a lot of it is in jest - certainly when it comes to Tipuric.

Re. AWJ, I’m really not sure you’re helping your argument when you suggest his performance was ‘similar’ (based on stats alone) to Itoje’s who was demonstrably better. In a way, I think this highlights what many people (myself included) find irritating re. AWJ. His champions are always citing intangible qualities like ‘managing the ref’ or comment on basic things I’d expect from a test lock like ‘he disrupted a maul’.

Essentially, it’s comparing Itoje’s conspicuous influence on the game with AWJ’s often inconspicuous contribution. To be clear, I am not saying he is a bad player or had a bad game and he is clearly an influential leader. I’m just trying to explain why many question why he’s so highly rated when the main positives are that he does the basics very well and has vast experience to lean on in a leadership role. Whether those things warrant a place in the team is questionable IMO.

Does he deserve more respect? Yes. Should he be an automatic pick and captain? No.

Thanks for a reasoned response, better than I'll get from some.

The thing is though, they're not all intangibles, they're just not always the sort of stats reported by the likes of espn. Any educated rugby fan can use their own eyes and see the influence and importance of a grafting type player to a team. You won't win much without a couple in your pack!

As for itoje, never suggested he didn't deserve the motm award, he was great with a couple of key turnovers when we were under the cosh in the first half. Doesn't mean AWJ was rubbish and deserves to be dropped!

There's been some very lauded grafting type second rows over the years. Martin Johnson for example. Some will say rugby has moved on and locks need to do more, maybe in some cases, but sometimes you just need a lock to front up and work bloody hard, especially vs SA.
 
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ncurd

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Actually I thought of a better comparison …

The media (until very recently) were the champions of Owen Farrell the undroppable ‘Ice Man’ at 10 for England and he was lauded for things I’d regard as standard for a test fly half (or centre). However, English rugby fans were much more muted in their praise and have never really understood why he is so highly rated by so many. If anything, we often lead the criticism of him on boards such as this.

It’s a very similar media love fest with AWJ, except the Welsh don’t seem to be able to recognise why he’s not universally feted.

If AWJ happened to be English, there is no way the Welsh posters would be demanding his unquestioned inclusion.
I think a better comparison in similar ilk might be Robshaw. Us as England fans use to point to things like tackle stats that he was a dependable workhorse and deserved his place in the side for that alone. Reality is once replaced by players who could do all that and more we soon forgot about him. Which is how I feel about AWJ he'll do the job, be a solid 7/10 everytime like yesterday bit we have other the in the squad who can do all that and more. Look at Lawes yesterday we can free up a place in the tightly contested back row and put him in the 2nd. Or bring in Henderson.

But overall came to the conclusion yesterday you don't change a winning team even if improvements could be made.
 

Reiser99

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I think you include him as he is dependable, and he works well with Itoje, in the sense you have a guy who can do the highlight reel stuff, and AWJ will just not make mistakes and work hard and effectively giving Itoje a bit of free reign.

But no, at this point in his career he doesn't tend to have those big game moments.
For me he's overrated because the media and some Welsh fans blow everything he does out of proportion. He never really plays badly, but as you said he doesn't tend to have any big game moments. He is a good, solid player, who motivates those around him. Yet during the match commentators often make a big deal out of little basic things. Same with after the match it almost feels like his performance is made to be some incredible feat of rugby.

That's why I personally make fun of when he does something, because I'm parodying the way others make such a big deal out of everything he does.

Would I have started him, no because I think he needed to earn his place like the rest and it was incredibly harsh on Henderson, Beard and Hill, who have put in so much effort this tour and then seen Jones basically waltz back into the team. Having said that he played well overall. Definitely not the best player on the pitch and wasn't the worst in the first half. I feel he's earned his spot now for next week.
 

BPM

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For me he's overrated because the media and some Welsh fans blow everything he does out of proportion. He never really plays badly, but as you said he doesn't tend to have any big game moments. He is a good, solid player, who motivates those around him. Yet during the match commentators often make a big deal out of little basic things. Same with after the match it almost feels like his performance is made to be some incredible feat of rugby.
Yep. That’s where I was going with the Farrell comparison. Routine passes or kicks pretty much any test 10 could execute become world class in Farrell’s hands. Much like when solid graft becomes Herculean when it’s AWJ.


Thanks for a reasoned response, better than I'll get from some.

The thing is though, they're not all intangibles, they're just not always the sort of stats reported by the likes of espn. Any educated rugby fan can use their own eyes and see the influence and importance of a grafting type player to a team. You won't win much without a couple in your pack!

As for itoje, never suggested he didn't deserve the motm award, he was great with a couple of key turnovers when we were under the cosh in the first half. Doesn't mean AWJ was rubbish and deserves to be dropped!

There's been some very lauded grafting type second rows over the years. Martin Johnson for example. Some will say rugby has moved on and locks need to do more, maybe in some cases, but sometimes you just need a lock to front up and work bloody hard, especially vs SA.
My pleasure.

I didn’t say he deserves to be dropped. I simply questioned his status as an automatic starter.

I’d regard a ‘grafting type’ of player as essential, but as @ncurd made reference to with Robshaw, there are players who do the graft and more. I’d argue Henderson offers graft as well as much more carrying ability. However, I can accept the argument that he’s a bit inconsistent whereas AWJ is the model of consistency. AWJ’s ‘more’ is probably the leadership factor so I’m OK with him being there, I just don’t buy the hyperbole around him.
 

Dean Cooperfield-West

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I'd drop AWJ. Drop AWJ and bring in Lawes. Then start Watson alongside Curry. Stick Henderson on the bench as cover.
 

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I'd drop AWJ. Drop AWJ and bring in Lawes. Then start Watson alongside Curry. Stick Henderson on the bench as cover.
I actually wouldn't... Having 3 real second rows, bar LCD's darts being off, looked very useful indeed in shortened lineouts, and lawes isn't a great scrummager either (I've noticed before how it shifts a little when he's in the row)
Alun wyn may not have rocked the world but he didn't do anything daft or stupid, and don't need a team of difference makers. I would have Hendy on the bench though, but that's just me
 

Not Mike Brown's Sock

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I actually wouldn't... Having 3 real second rows, bar LCD's darts being off, looked very useful indeed in shortened lineouts, and lawes isn't a great scrummager either (I've noticed before how it shifts a little when he's in the row)
Alun wyn may not have rocked the world but he didn't do anything daft or stupid, and don't need a team of difference makers. I would have Hendy on the bench though, but that's just me
Beirne for AWJ and Henderson on the bench imo. Keeps the 3 second rows but adds a player who will do all the hard work of AWJ but actually brings a bit of X factor.
 

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That tip tackle is way worse than I expected
Not sure if it's a straight red but I wouldn't be surprised to see it get cited to try and rectify the lack of punishment from the on pitch officials
World Rugby won't want to be seen condoning play like that
 

ncurd

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That tip tackle is way worse than I expected
Not sure if it's a straight red but I wouldn't be surprised to see it get cited to try and rectify the lack of punishment from the on pitch officials
World Rugby won't want to be seen condoning play like that
Genuinely shocked it wasn't sanctioned by the on pitch officials or TMO. The only question should of been yellow or red with being a hard yellow and certainly no complaints at red. Warburton quite rightly was in disbelief considering his infamous red.
 

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I hate articles like that because they walk dangerous close to the speculative argument of "what if?" and that's a never ending rabbit hole
 

anderton46

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Yeah the Watson non yellow was baffling. Aside from that I think everything else was about correct.
 

MACCA

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TBF he had a pretty poor game by his standards against the Stormers. His point of difference is finishing and the tests just aren't try fests.
Mako played his best game in years.

Farrell kicked everything away badly.
Best summary so far. Lawes and Itoje great. Curry cost 6 points, Watson 3. AWJ good captain average player. Mako over Sutherland? Is Russel fit? Anyone over Daly. Farrell can kick. Can he do anything else. VDM a certainty. Hogg? Ok but if your competition is Williams it’s Hogg anyway. Williams the most overated underperforming player in the squad o the bench? In fact Adams over Williams resolves it. Henshaw our only 12 option but with Harris.
 

MACCA

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That tip tackle is way worse than I expected
Not sure if it's a straight red but I wouldn't be surprised to see it get cited to try and rectify the lack of punishment from the on pitch officials
World Rugby won't want to be seen condoning play like that
Yellow. Read the rules. If Lions don’t compete they will stil loose the tests. Curry gave away 6 points and Daly at least 3
 

anderton46

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Best summary so far. Lawes and Itoje great. Curry cost 6 points, Watson 3. AWJ good captain average player. Mako over Sutherland? Is Russel fit? Anyone over Daly. Farrell can kick. Can he do anything else. VDM a certainty. Hogg? Ok but if your competition is Williams it’s Hogg anyway. Williams the most overated underperforming player in the squad o the bench? In fact Adams over Williams resolves it. Henshaw our only 12 option but with Harris.
Williams is definitely not over rated, although you could definitely say he is underperforming. But when on form there aren't many people who can tackle/jackle/take a high ball/cut a line like he does at a high level.
 

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