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Your Lions Squad Based on this Season?

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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Depends on how Manu is doing. Personally I'd be curious to see what a Russell / Farrell 10/12 axis can do in one of the build up games but feel that Gatland will want a bit more meat in there for the tests.
Aki, less the figure for his age. Just the strong perception of an "good old" war horse. Which has been "in the wars." Not in a lookout role. But as a battering ram.
 

big ginger 8

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Aki just turned 30 I don't know why his age would factor in at all. He's not a running back.
 

The Alpha Bro

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Surely weren't not talking about Aki here?
Aki and Manu will almost certainly be the 12 options won't they? 4 years ago Henshaw couldn't get a look in ahead of Ben Te'o, the harder you can run and the less nuanced your game is is Gats' wet dream for a 12. Add in Aki's pair of double ds for hands and Gats might just make him captain.

But yeah, if Henshaw and Ringrose were ever fit at the same time, an occurrence as rare as Halley's comet, Aki doesn't make an Ireland 23 and should not be a Lion.
 

TRF_Olyy

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Aye its only a joke, I've never been a fan of Aki but he'll likely tour, especially with how little time there is for anyone else to really put their hands up

Gats loves guys who'll seek contact and have average at best hands. Aki is the Irish Parkes.
12. Parkes
13. Aki

Let's gooooooooo
 

Saint Matt

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I always think it’s almost impossible for us to have an accurate view on who a captain should be. So much of being a captain is about communication and how they interact with players off the field, how they make players feel, so many of the things go into being a good captain are things that we just aren’t exposed to.

History suggests that AWJ has proven to be a good captain for Wales, you don’t captain that many tests if you’re not. I think he’d be first choice because of that and, equally, because of the position he plays. He’s been there and done it so many times, he’s a safe bet, he’s someone who Gatland knows and trusts. Ultimately, I think he’ll be the tour captain, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t. Whether he’ll be in the test team, we’ll have to wait and see.

Equally the way England and Saracens players speak about Farrell and his influence off the pitch, how he inspires and brings people together, also make me really confident in that regard that he’d be a good captain for the Lions if needed. I was at Twickenham for the Wales test, pretty low down in the stand. It was clear watching him that he improved the England performance through his talk and communication alone, intensity wise and in terms of rugby IQ he’s world class. He didn’t stop talking all game and raised the standards around him because of that. He’s captained teams to wins against NZ, Australia and SA in the past. He never takes a backwards step and particularly in South Africa, I think that’s important too.

Itoje I have no idea about to be fair. With Farrell captaining England and Brad/Farrell captaining Saracens, I think it would be a brave call. I think AWJ’s experience and Farrell’s character off the field would potentially make them better options but I’m only guessing there.
 
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Hopra03

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5 Scots? Yeah can definitely tell you aren't doing a team you predict Gatland will actually choose :D

As a Bath fan I'm not sure what about that is supposed


to make me unhappy?

Overall I'd agree with that.
I agree with you
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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The captaincy question touches a different aspect. Due to the availabilty of Alun Wyn Jones.

The lockdown enforced restriction (or focus) to fitness work alone for a long time is entirely unprecedented.

There is clearly less wear and tear compared to a crowded fixture list of hard fought pro games. And this recuperation could well allow for a couple of careers to be longer. That would put a question mark behind some of the conservative assumptions I made in this regard (which stopped at Courtny Lawes. But excluded, with regret, AWJ, Faletau, POM, Marler, Healey, Owens, and Aki.)
“excluded, with regret, AWJ, Faletau, POM, Marler, Healey, Owens, and Aki”

Forgot the player's player of the 2017 tour – Foxy.

He is about pace. How he ran down Laumape after his intercept. But pace fades away with age. Jonathan Davies is a great player. But he is not like BOD who could compensate that loss with his unique other powers.

Maybe the regret is not that necessary however. Due to improved player longevity as one minor good thing about the pandemic (see above.)
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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“excluded, with regret, AWJ, Faletau, POM, Marler, Healey, Owens, and Aki”

Forgot the player's player of the 2017 tour – Foxy.

He is about pace. How he ran down Laumape after his intercept. But pace fades away with age. Jonathan Davies is a great player. But he is not like BOD who could compensate that loss with his unique other powers.

Maybe the regret is not that necessary however. Due to improved player longevity as one minor good thing about the pandemic (see above.)
True resilience:
I always think it’s almost impossible for us to have an accurate view on who a captain should be. So much of being a captain is about communication and how they interact with players off the field, how they make players feel, so many of the things go into being a good captain are things that we just aren’t exposed to.

History suggests that AWJ has proven to be a good captain for Wales, you don’t captain that many tests if you’re not. I think he’d be first choice because of that and, equally, because of the position he plays. He’s been there and done it so many times, he’s a safe bet, he’s someone who Gatland knows and trusts. Ultimately, I think he’ll be the tour captain, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t. Whether he’ll be in the test team, we’ll have to wait and see.

Equally the way England and Saracens players speak about Farrell and his influence off the pitch, how he inspires and brings people together, also make me really confident in that regard that he’d be a good captain for the Lions if needed. I was at Twickenham for the Wales test, pretty low down in the stand. It was clear watching him that he improved the England performance through his talk and communication alone, intensity wise and in terms of rugby IQ he’s world class. He didn’t stop talking all game and raised the standards around him because of that. He’s captained teams to wins against NZ, Australia and SA in the past. He never takes a backwards step and particularly in South Africa, I think that’s important too.

Itoje I have no idea about to be fair. With Farrell captaining England and Brad/Farrell captaining Saracens, I think it would be a brave call. I think AWJ’s experience and Farrell’s character off the field would potentially make them better options but I’m only guessing there.

Maro Itoje. Warren Gatland himself said it.
Dropped some hints but then named his name.

Other takeaways from what he was quoted as saying on Rugby365 the other day, elaborated by Ian MacGeechan: Kruis is in the mix as well, therefore competition at lock would be high. Including Lawes.
Few other players could be regarded as sure starters. That counted against AWJ, if available at all. But in favour of Owen Farrell.

Ian's front runners at lock are Ryan and Itoje with the latter being his preferred captain.
Gee, can't afford to take the eye of the newswires for a couple of days.
 

Blachernaecastle

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I'd be interested in people's thoughts about the Lions deploying a 'big 6' for this tour? I think its been mentioned a few times but mostly offhandedly and I'm after reading an article that got me thinking about it again. Fair warning this might ramble, as I'm trying to figure out my own thoughts on the matter.

Obviously SA have had great success playing PSDT (6'6" 120kg) on the blindside and England have had more...mixed success with playing Lawes there. Of course there is the argument that there's no point trying to beat SA at their own game which definitely has its merits.. However, I do have some concerns about the quality of the blindesides available to us. That is at least partially because my ideal 6 is in the mould of a Ferris (6'4" 112kg) or Kaino (6'5" 110kg). That's not to say I don't think the available options are good players, most of the name thrown about are definitely test match quality, I just feel a lot of them are more openside/blindside hybrids. I'm also probably influenced that knowing what we know now my starting 7 and 8 would be Curry and Vunipola. Against SA good set piece is vital and I think the third backrower has to be good in the lineout. Underhill doesn't have that ability to my knowledge and I don't particularly like the balance with any of O'Mahony, Ritchie or Tipuric.

If we're defining the 'big 6' as someone with the size of a secondrow and the athleticism of a backrower then Itoje is the obvious frontrunner to my mind even if it's not the case in Eddie Jones'. He's obviously got the ability at the breakdown, in the lineout and in defence and I think he's an underrated carrier, especially as he would likely be freed up to carry a bit wider than usual.

Where it would get tricky would be if you were planning this as a definite tactic rather than just an option who could you play in place of Itoje (6'5" 115kg) if he was unavailable for the position. In terms of players that have played internationally at both secondrow and blindeside for any of the Lions nations, Lawes (6'6" 111kg), Henderson (6'6" 117kg) and Beirne (6'6" 113kg) are the ones that come to mind (maybe Kruis as well?). Certainly the prevailing opinion of English fans on this board seems to be that Lawes shouldn't be played at 6 but I do think he was growing into the position as the 6N progressed. Henderson due to necessity hasn't played there in yonks which is a bit of a pity. He's a infuriatingly inconsistent which is a pity as there's a lot of obvious talent there. Gatland did seem to get the best out of him on the last Lions tour. I question if he still has the pace he had when he first burst onto the scene. Part of me would love to see him tried there in a warm up game but given he's unlikely to play there for club or country before the Lions he's pretty much a no go. Beirne would have been a borderline at best tourist before his injury and since rightfully no one has included him. I certainly wouldn't want him to start at secondrow against SA, however I do think there is merit to considering him as a blindside but it would be hugely dependent on an upcoming season which is not a great think to be relying on at the moment. He does have a lot of attributes for a modern blindside. He's an excellent poacher, a very good lineout defender and very comfortable in the wider channels. I really do think blindside is his best position, unfortunately he picked the wrong province to play for if he wanted to wear 6. I have some hope that the signing of Snyman for Munster and the potential emergence of Ahern might see Beirne shifted to 6 and O'Mahony to 7.

I mentioned in the OP that Ryan Baird (6'6" 103kg, definitely heavier than that now, that was weight upon entering the academy) could be a bolter for this role, he has the athletic traits you like to see (
did not want that to embed, and it's meant to start at 4:48) but more than anyone really would have needed a full season to be in with a chance so he's a non-runner.

Stepping away from the uniform 'big 6' if you want a more physical, ball carrying option who's good in the lineout there's three number 8's at Leinster with experience at blindside in Conan, Doris and Deegan. The first two being more likely than the last to be in with any shout. I realise I've named four Leinstermen there but I'm not championing them (Conan and Doris are the only ones with any realistic chance) I'm just very familiar with them and they exemplify a lot of the qualities I'm talking about. I'm sure there's a number of players across the other nations who check a similar number of boxes in the style I want.

So it would appear from my analysis that Itoje is the only realistic option if we want to go this route for the Lions so it should only be an option and not our plan. I appreciate I've named a lot of players so it's totally fair to talk about them and why I'm wrong about what they can or cannot do but I would also appreciate your opinions about whether I'm right that we at least need a more physical six even if we don't go with this 'new' fad (secondrow-blindside hybrids are hardly new) or should we go with dual opensides or a more rangy option.

Disclaimer, like most of you it's been a minute since I've watched a full game so my picture of players is in full off-season mode and more hazy than usual.
This thread is quite a read. Very fruitful discussion.

One thing prompted me to go beyond reading: Being introduced to Ryan Baird. Page 6 (by “big ginger 8.” With picture.)

I realised that he actually could make the squad.

Renowed experts like Ian McGeechan, Mick Cleary and six more each picked their squad in the Telegraph Sport a couple of weeks ago. I read their positions-by-position rationales only now. A catch-up job. And two of them independently stated that he could well tour. They had him as their “bolter.”
 

Saint Matt

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It’ll be interesting to see how this break effects different players and what type of form they show over the next few months leading into the tour.
 
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