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what would be your Matchday 23 for the british and irish lions in 2021

ruck987

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what would be your Matchday 23 for the british and irish lions in 2021 guys :)
 

WarriorKelv

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1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Maro Itoje
5. Alun Wyn Jones
6. Josh Navidi
7. Tom Curry
8. Talupe Faletau
9. Gareth Davies
10. Owen Farrell
11. Jacob Stockdale
12. Robbie Henshaw/ possibly McCloskey
13. Manu Tuilagi
14. Liam Williams
15. Stuart Hogg
16. Ken Owens
17. Cian Healy
18. Kyle Sinkler
19. James Ryan
20. Aaron Wainwright/ Sam Underhill
21. John Cooney
22. Jonny Sexton
23. Anthony Watson
 

Leinster Fan

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An Itoje/J.Ryan second row is the easiest pick in the world
Won't stop the Welsh (and possibly Gatland) though. AWJ is nowhere near either now and definitely won't be in a year and a bit.

Anyway I'm sure this thread will be full or reasoned and measured debate...
 

TBeastT

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I’d love to see a fit Leavy in the back row with Curry. Massive shame that we’re unlikely to see it.
 

bushytop

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Now a younger (some would say more Maro-esque/Ryan-esque :p) me would probably Wade headlong into the Lions ‘21 lock forward debate headlong, hands waving in the air... as I’m sure many are hoping/expecting us boyos to do at discounting our legendary Captain without due diligence. With me now in my more Alun-Wynn era of my life, I’m able to react in a far more measured way to any unintended shade that comes our way :D.

All jokes aside though, do I think that Maro and Ryan are world class? Most definitely... they’re phenomenal and I’m a big fan of both. Do I think that it is as simple as you guys in that, they’re the pair no questions asked? I don’t, now don’t misread that statement... I’m not saying they’re not the pair, I’m not saying Alun-Wynn should be picked... simply that there is more than enough evidence here to justify that it’s a debate and not forgone.

I’ll be advocating for AWJ, as I’m sure that there is no need for me to elucidate on the virtues of Maro and James as minds are already made up (although I would if it were needed as... as I’ve stated I’m a big fan of both). And I’m not doing this to say Alun-Wynn should be starting, only that there is at the very least an argument for it and that is what appears to be being missed. And don’t worry I’ll include the negatives on what could preclude Alun-Wynn from starting too.

Alun-Wynn gets a lot of love, particularly from casuals and I think that has caused some of the hardcore fans (outside of Wales) to subconsciously assume none of the praise is justified. Now admittedly he doesn’t do the more flashy things that the young English and Irish men do... he isn’t as dynamic, doesn’t make as many yards etc. and in fairness it is the flashy things that catch most of the eyes. But that is simply them boys’ points of difference and AWJ has his own. For me they are in ascending order...

1st. A gas tank like no other. Yes all players these days (all who’ll be selected for the Lions anyway) are fit but AWJ simply does not stop. First to breakdowns, first there on kick chases and putting his head up for yet another tight carry in a 30-odd phase play... even once the clock has passed 80.

2nd. An absolute nuisance at the breakdown. He doesn’t necessarily win many turn overs but he slows opposing ball consistently, draws opponents to the floor or into confrontations that take them out of the game and also produces a high quality tackle (and high number thereof) which helps our turnover specialists to work their magic. My opinion and I’m happy for people to disagree but, I think he is the most effective lock at the breakdown full stop.

3rd. The obvious and most important one... Leadership. It’s arguable that England in particular but also Ireland to some extent lost matches last year due to a lack of on field leadership. Wales lost only the one competitive match last year (personally don’t pay much credence to a third place play off) and in the game we lost (the semi final vs SA) the game was never really taken away from us. Sure, there were swings away from us at points but we were able to drag ourselves back into it... and it’s arguable that on field leadership was a big part of that. Also, Alun-Wynn is already a Lions legend. You know on those Lions DVD’s when they wheel a Lions legend out to present to jerseys and get the hearts pounding with just a bit more pride. Alun-Wynn is already on the level of most of if not all of those guys. 9 Lions tests, two as Captain, a drawn series in NZ, a win in Oz and that great series in SA last time that ‘probably’ should/could’ve gone the other way. It is like having one of those Lions legends who presents the jerseys and stirs the emotions pre-match... but actually on the field with you... there for you to lean on at any point throughout the 80.

Okay, on to the negatives. I’d say that the primary negative is undoubtedly his age. He’ll be 36 by my reckoning by the Lions tour and... yup thats very old for Test Rugby. And it could well prove to be too old by the time we get there. I honestly don’t think age has caught him yet though (again... not to say it won’t by 2021)... he was 6 Nations player of the tournament last year and Captained Wales to a World Cup Semi, losing by one point to the eventual winners who arguably have the best TWO tight fives in the world. I don’t think his age looked apparent once during the whole year. That could obviously change, no one knows when age will eventually become an issue... but right now... today... I personally feel there is little to no evidence.

The other negative I feel is his lack of offensive yards... he just doesn’t consistently make that many. There is no doubt that Maro and James make more... and making yards is so important in the modern game. This is the main reason I feel that most people here would choose these two over Jones and I can understand and even agree somewhat (like I said in the preamble... I’m not saying AWJ should be picked... only that it is at the least a debate worth having). I guess this point then comes down to... if AWJ were to be picked, are there enough other carriers in the 23 to make up for the yards lost? Well that’s not my place to answer... I’m just posing the questions. But if there are, is AWJ’s leadership and breakdown expertise important enough to make him a starter? Again, I’m not here to answer just to legitimise the debate.
 
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TRF_Olyy

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AWJ's USP isn't necessarily his playing style (he's a pretty standard international work horse in that regard) it's more his captaincy and how he galvanises/raises the game of everyone around him. He's like a buff on the rest of the Welsh side.

I don't see him having that effect on the English/Irish/Scottish(<--If there is any) players, so I'm looking solely at who's the better players and Itoje and Ryan are definitely better.


That said I still expect Gatland to have AWJ as a starter and his captain
 

bushytop

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AWJ's USP isn't necessarily his playing style (he's a pretty standard international work horse in that regard) it's more his captaincy and how he galvanises/raises the game of everyone around him. He's like a buff on the rest of the Welsh side.

I don't see him having that effect on the English/Irish/Scottish(<--If there is any) players, so I'm looking solely at who's the better players and Itoje and Ryan are definitely better.


That said I still expect Gatland to have AWJ as a starter and his captain
That's pretty much what I've said for him only using different wording.
 

The Alpha Bro

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I’d love to see a fit Leavy in the back row with Curry. Massive shame that we’re unlikely to see it.
Gonna go cry now.

Seeing Manu and James Lowe run riot against some provincial side will admittedly be fun. I'll be less negative about this Lions tour (still think its a massive disadvantage in what should be one of the most pivotal test windows of a RWC cycle) mainly because you can booze while watching the games but also because there are some serious combos to be thrown out.
 

big ginger 8

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Lazy OP asking for people's teams and not offering one yourself...

With Gatland selecting I don't expect it to be the team that I want anyway.

Ryan and Itoje makes too much sense at this stage, a younger AWJ could have had a good argument and people from outside Wales on his side but I don't think so at this stage. His big plus is leadership and it's not like the other two are scrubs in that department. In terms of quantifiable assets the only thing I can think of is probably having better discipline than Itoje.

In general at this stage it's too early to tell for a lot of things and while that's the case even a year out we'll have a better idea after this year's Six Nations where guys like Kelleher, Deegan, Larmour and Doris could see their mentions raise substantially
 

Old Hooker

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The Boks just bludgeoned their way to a world title with a monster pack and another on the bench.

We don’t want to get into a total muscle firefight, but if they set the tone up front they’ll win. We’ll need physical, aggressive and probably very big forwards who can stand their ground and stop them dictating. Not easy and there could be some very horses for courses selections. My £5 says our flankers won’t be Navidi and Curry or even Curryhill. Lawes and Itoje, maybe....:)
 

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Now a younger (some would say more Maro-esque/Ryan-esque :p) me would probably Wade headlong into the Lions ‘21 lock forward debate headlong, hands waving in the air... as I’m sure many are hoping/expecting us boyos to do at discounting our legendary Captain without due diligence. With me now in my more Alun-Wynn era of my life, I’m able to react in a far more measured way to any unintended shade that comes our way :D.

All jokes aside though, do I think that Maro and Ryan are world class? Most definitely... they’re phenomenal and I’m a big fan of both. Do I think that it is as simple as you guys in that, they’re the pair no questions asked? I don’t, now don’t misread that statement... I’m not saying they’re not the pair, I’m not saying Alun-Wynn should be picked... simply that there is more than enough evidence here to justify that it’s a debate and not forgone.

I’ll be advocating for AWJ, as I’m sure that there is no need for me to elucidate on the virtues of Maro and James as minds are already made up (although I would if it were needed as... as I’ve stated I’m a big fan of both). And I’m not doing this to say Alun-Wynn should be starting, only that there is at the very least an argument for it and that is what appears to be being missed. And don’t worry I’ll include the negatives on what could preclude Alun-Wynn from starting too.

Alun-Wynn gets a lot of love, particularly from casuals and I think that has caused some of the hardcore fans (outside of Wales) to subconsciously assume none of the praise is justified. Now admittedly he doesn’t do the more flashy things that the young English and Irish men do... he isn’t as dynamic, doesn’t make as many yards etc. and in fairness it is the flashy things that catch most of the eyes. But that is simply them boys’ points of difference and AWJ has his own. For me they are in ascending order...

1st. A gas tank like no other. Yes all players these days (all who’ll be selected for the Lions anyway) are fit but AWJ simply does not stop. First to breakdowns, first there on kick chases and putting his head up for yet another tight carry in a 30-odd phase play... even once the clock has passed 80.

2nd. An absolute nuisance at the breakdown. He doesn’t necessarily win many turn overs but he slows opposing ball consistently, draws opponents to the floor or into confrontations that take them out of the game and also produces a high quality tackle (and high number thereof) which helps our turnover specialists to work their magic. My opinion and I’m happy for people to disagree but, I think he is the most effective lock at the breakdown full stop.

3rd. The obvious and most important one... Leadership. It’s arguable that England in particular but also Ireland to some extent lost matches last year due to a lack of on field leadership. Wales lost only the one competitive match last year (personally don’t pay much credence to a third place play off) and in the game we lost (the semi final vs SA) the game was never really taken away from us. Sure, there were swings away from us at points but we were able to drag ourselves back into it... and it’s arguable that on field leadership was a big part of that. Also, Alun-Wynn is already a Lions legend. You know on those Lions DVD’s when they wheel a Lions legend out to present to jerseys and get the hearts pounding with just a bit more pride. Alun-Wynn is already on the level of most of if not all of those guys. 9 Lions tests, two as Captain, a drawn series in NZ, a win in Oz and that great series in SA last time that ‘probably’ should/could’ve gone the other way. It is like having one of those Lions legends who presents the jerseys and stirs the emotions pre-match... but actually on the field with you... there for you to lean on at any point throughout the 80.

Okay, on to the negatives. I’d say that the primary negative is undoubtedly his age. He’ll be 36 by my reckoning by the Lions tour and... yup thats very old for Test Rugby. And it could well prove to be too old by the time we get there. I honestly don’t think age has caught him yet though (again... not to say it won’t by 2021)... he was 6 Nations player of the tournament last year and Captained Wales to a World Cup Semi, losing by one point to the eventual winners who arguably have the best TWO tight fives in the world. I don’t think his age looked apparent once during the whole year. That could obviously change, no one knows when age will eventually become an issue... but right now... today... I personally feel there is little to no evidence.

The other negative I feel is his lack of offensive yards... he just doesn’t consistently make that many. There is no doubt that Maro and James make more... and making yards is so important in the modern game. This is the main reason I feel that most people here would choose these two over Jones and I can understand and even agree somewhat (like I said in the preamble... I’m not saying AWJ should be picked... only that it is at the least a debate worth having). I guess this point then comes down to... if AWJ were to be picked, are there enough other carriers in the 23 to make up for the yards lost? Well that’s not my place to answer... I’m just posing the questions. But if there are, is AWJ’s leadership and breakdown expertise important enough to make him a starter? Again, I’m not here to answer just to legitimise the debate.
That's fair enough and I don't doubt that AWJ does bring valuable stuff to the table, but I just don't think he offers nearly enough compared to Ryan/Itoje.
 

bushytop

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Won't stop the Welsh (and possibly Gatland) though. AWJ is nowhere near either now and definitely won't be in a year and a bit.

Anyway I'm sure this thread will be full or reasoned and measured debate...
That's fair enough and I don't doubt that AWJ does bring valuable stuff to the table, but I just don't think he offers nearly enough compared to Ryan/Itoje.
Tbh Lein I just wanted to get in early with some of that ‘reasoned and measured debate...’ before it descended in to a tribal cluster-frik. Us boyo’s can be very precious about perceived sleights on our national treasures and I wanted to preempt it from happening.
 
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living sacrifice

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If AWJ starts a lions test I’ll cry a little. He’s not even the best welsh lock any more. Great leader but he’s so far behind some of the other locks.

I’m really hoping their won’t be a welsh biased squad again. It was a disgrace last time.
 

bushytop

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If AWJ starts a lions test I’ll cry a little. He’s not even the best welsh lock any more. Great leader but he’s so far behind some of the other locks.

I’m really hoping their won’t be a welsh biased squad again. It was a disgrace last time.
I know this is the popular narrative but if you look at England, Ireland and Wales being the dominant 3 teams in the 6N these last 10 years the representation on 2013 and 2017 was ‘pretty’ fair (Lions selections will never please everyone and the fact that Gats was head coach meant that this was the easy out). I know pretty much every English, Irish and Scottish fan will vehemently disagree with this... and as always I’d be happy to listen to opposing views but this ones mine.
 
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I know this is the popular narrative but if you look at England, Ireland and Wales being the dominant 3 team in the 6N these last 10 years the representation on 2013 and 2017 was ‘pretty’ fair (Lions selections will never please everyone and the fact that Gats was head coach meant that this was the easy out). I know pretty much every English, Irish and Scottish fan will vehemently disagree with this... and as always I’d be happy to listen to opposing views but this ones mine.
I'd agree that on 2017 there weren't really any calls in favour of Welsh players that a coach couldn't have reasonably made without pro-Welsh bias. Thought he was pushing it a bit in 2013, that was Walrs and friends (I can't be the only Irish person who found the reaction to BOD being dropped was embarrassing though).
 

bushytop

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I'd agree that on 2017 there weren't really any calls in favour of Welsh players that a coach couldn't have reasonably made without pro-Welsh bias. Thought he was pushing it a bit in 2013, that was Walrs and friends (I can't be the only Irish person who found the reaction to BOD being dropped was embarrassing though).
In fairness @living sacrifice stated ‘last time’, which indicates 2017. About 2013 though... no doubt there was a lot of Welsh players, 15! The exact same number as English in 2017. There is also a further similarity between Wales and England at the two points at when the squads were selected... the form. Wales in 2013 had just had a World Cup Semi 2011, grand slam 2012 and a championship 2013. England in 2017 had just had grand slam in 2016 and a championship in 2017.

Pretty similar... and the selections reflect this... but no one is shouting about an English bias in 2017, not even a Welsh man.
 

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I’m really hoping their won’t be a welsh biased squad again. It was a disgrace last time.
It's a weird one - Gatland has always show loyalty to his boys and he'll have been removed from the NH game for two years so it's easy to fall back on safe options.
Though equally: He doesn't have to worry about any awkward questions at the next Wales training camp, so might feel more comfortable picking others in 50/50 calls
 

living sacrifice

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I usually want more Irish players if I’m honest (that’s as an Englishman). I get the 2013 Welsh main body of the team as Wales were in great form but not 2017, where there should have been more Irish players.

But I get it’s very open to personal preference. We’ll never please everyone...especially not the Scottish!
 
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