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Author Topic: Lions tour 2017  (Read 2481 times)

Offline Mugsy

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2017, 01:39:35 PM »
I,m a bit worried that he has loaded the squad with more bash it up backs than more 'flair player' which will cause the blacks defence no problems just going up the middle.

Intrigued by that, Passed it! Gatland has been accused of playing 'WarrenBall' in the past, boshing it up the middle all day, but I'm not sure which of the backs you refer to.
The only selection I would say is noted for his size and power rather than flair is North. To a lesser extent maybe Payne, Davies, Webb and Henshaw. Please don't say Te'o, because that lad is a balanced runner with the ability to move defenders and put runners in gaps. Don't be fooled by his RL pedigree, he's a proper centre.
None of the following are what David Campese used to call ''smash-it-up robots'':-
Biggar, Daly, Farrell, Halfpenny, Hogg, Joseph, Nowell, Seymour, Watson, Williams.
Every one a flair player.

Neil, which are the 'massive shocks'? As I've said, other than the omission of Launchbury I don't think there are any big surprises. You are definitely right to say that there'll be half a dozen further call-ups yet.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 02:51:43 PM by Mugsy »

Offline TheGuv

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2017, 04:07:49 PM »
I'm amazed neither of the Gray's had a sniff of being in the team.


I read this on FB - a mate of mine wrote it (he's obviously Scottish can you tell?  ;) )  I agree with most of it.

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So it is the Welsh boys on tour with some friends then!

We usually try and remain as neutral as possible on this blog but I’m sorry the gloves are off now! The rumours are true. Gatland has picked his friends and royally trashed the spirit of the British & Irish Lions. It started many weeks ago when it was quietly announced that Dr James Robson, the Scotland Doctor, ever present with the Lions since 1993 would not be touring. It now seems that Scotland isn’t really part of the Lions anymore…at all.

I am not advocating a Scottish takeover, far from it, but the exclusion of Jonny Gray  really hurts. Gray’s stats speak for themselves both at international level and for Glasgow in Europe. I mention Europe specifically for all those Aviva Prem fans who are deluded in their reckoning that the Pro12 is vastly inferior.

To only have ONE player, NO backroom staff, NO blazers is nothing short of full frontal assault and insult to Scottish Rugby. What’s that I hear you say? Scotland were offered representation? Yes, correct. However, bith Townsend and O’Halloran were offered the opportunity to be Rob Howley’s assistants – hardly a prospect that would enthrall two coaches who have proven they are more creative than the underperforming Welsh coach. Underperforming? Yes, 5th place in the Six Nations; convincing defeat to Scotland AND failure to score 4 tries against Italy – this ladies and gentlemen is the Lions ATTACK coach.

We tried to pick our Lions squad and included 5 Scots; the least amount of any nation. It is gut wrenching to see the final squad – some of the inclusions are absolutely galling! Dan Biggar?!  Is it time for accountability and scruntiny by someone higher than the coach? I think not as the head coach needs to select a squad he has confidence in but selecting 12 players from HIS OWN international side, which is falling down the world rankings, underperforming and losing respect could well be a plot from a Shakespearean Tradegy!
The fact that the likes of Joe Launchbury miss out as well and the underperforming AW Jones gets in is a travesty. Iain Henderson, not even first choice for Ireland anymore gets in ahead of either of the Gray’s…

It’s going to be incredibly difficult for rugby fans north of the border to get behind this tour now. Scotland’s progress is marked and players regualrly standing out above their rivals. Gatland seems to think it’s a “take your mates” type of tour.
There is no justification for the number of Welsh on tour after a lacklustre Autumn and finishing SECOND BOTTOM of the Six Nations.
I hate to say this but Scotland…it is time to consider whether backing the Lions is something we want to continue after this very hurtful (and I believe, personal) snub from the Lions…

Mike
https://revorugby.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/the-english-welsh-and-irish-lions-no-seriously/

Offline Mugsy

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2017, 04:41:25 PM »
Guv, I too would've liked to have seen the Grays picked - and I do think there are at least 2 too many Welshmen in the squad. I just don't think there are any shocks.
 Alun Wyn is a proven Lion who will offer strong leadership on tour. Stats don't tell the whole picture. If Launchbury can't get in then the Grays certainly won't.
The point about who finished where in the six nations is irrelevant. And I've never heard anyone ever say the Pro12 is vastly inferior to the Prem; that sounds to me more like the stereotypical Scottish myth of English superiority complex!

You can't help feeling for the Sweaties, not feeling a sense of belonging for the red jersey, but their limited recent successes have been based on having a lot of players who are almost world class, rather than having several notables who are genuinely world class, like England and Ireland.

As for the lack of Jock coaches and backroom staff, I agree that Rob Howley has done little to earn his role other than being Gat's mate and an experienced Lion himself - but then Gregor Townsend is completely unproven above club level. And the goings on at Blazer level are a mystery to me so I can't comment.

Offline Passed it

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2017, 06:23:11 PM »
Mugsy- good points made but I do sadly believe that Warenball is just under the surface and will be plan 1.5. I think Te'o is a slot in for Roberts and will be asked to play that roll. The flair players you listed are all good players but apart from Joseph the rest will be under the blacks back row shackles or too far out to get involved enough. Not sure how Farrell will fit in without Ford by his side and Biggar is an interception waiting to happen unless he uses the deep runners going straight. I know this sounds negative and I do want them to smash the Blacks but it looks like that is how they are going to try o do it.

Offline Mugsy

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2017, 06:55:01 PM »
Fair enough, your reasoning makes sense - we'll find out! Biggar won't feature in the test squad in my opinion; he's picked to be a dirt tracker. If Sexton gets hurt Farrell will take the 10 shirt.
Farrell at 12 is far too good a player to need Ford inside him - he and Sexton will surely dovetail as they are two of the best distributors in the game.
I think we'll see a style of playing for the provincial games that will alter suddenly during the first test - but again, we'll see!

I can't wait.

Offline Neil Roseberry

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2017, 08:37:25 PM »
I,m a bit worried that he has loaded the squad with more bash it up backs than more 'flair player' which will cause the blacks defence no problems just going up the middle.

Neil, which are the 'massive shocks'? As I've said, other than the omission of Launchbury I don't think there are any big surprises. You are definitely right to say that there'll be half a dozen further call-ups yet.

The ones that are massive to me are Joe Launchbury (obviously), Jamie Heaslip, Mike Brown and Johnny Gray. l also thought Jamie Roberts and Gary Ringrose would have went.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 08:38:29 PM by Neil Roseberry »

Offline LineoutGeneral

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2017, 10:35:32 PM »
Think Heaslip is finished at international level Neil can see Irelands back row becoming o mahony o brien and stander at 8 so I'm not at all surprised he missed out. Was surprised to see moriarty in the back row selections tho ahead of potentially robshaw or Haskell.  As for you being surprised about Jamie Roberts not being there his best days are behind him he's not the 12 any more for Wales and hasn't done much for harlequins this year either.

Offline TheGuv

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2017, 09:24:36 AM »
Another good article!

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So, the wait is finally over, and the Chinese whispers can end… the Lions squad has been confirmed for 2017. Perusing the team sheet this lunch time, on the face of it, it seems like a decent selection – a passing grade on an assignment which was unenviable to most.
The amount of talent within the home nations ranks was bound to do lead to some high-profile omissions. Yet I feel that at the heart of this selection is a fundamental flaw, a weakness that plagued the last Lion tour to New Zealand. That is – sticking to what you know doesn’t guarantee you success. In fact, if 2005 taught us anything, it was quite the opposite. Still, this selection from Warren Gatland, particularly in the backline, seems that these lessons remain unlearnt. He grasps his Welsh comfort blanket of Halfpenny, Davies, and Biggar like Woodward did with his English stalwarts. Let’s prey for a different outcome, but you know the old saying about the definition of insanity.

No doubt the justification for Halfpenny and Davies is their experience of a winning a Lions Tour, and what that will bring to the camp, because it certainly can’t be their recent playing form. However, if will remove the red tinted spectacles of the 2013 tour, the Lions performances were woeful in the tests series, against a very average Australia team. In fact, the series was effectively won by a missed kick by Kurtley Beale in front of the posts in the first test, otherwise we would be talking about a 2-1 insipid series defeat.

This victory certainly shouldn’t have been enough to justify anyone reselection on to this tour.
Halfpenny only offering is his place kicking, which is practically negated by Farrell being one of the nailed-on test starters. His attacking game is non-existent with his loss of pace, and his defence is solid if not poor in technique.

Jonathan Davies on the other hand has been unspectacular since the final test match in 2013. His constant presence in the Welsh starting team is more of a case of lack of depth in the national pool than his sparkling performances.

Dan Biggar selection is the poorest choice of them all, as it appears as lazy. Gatland has essentially admitted that it is a two-horse race for the starting 10 jersey between Sexton and Farrell, hopefully resulting in them playing 10 and 12 respectfully. This means the third 10 space is obsolete, a midweek warrior, certainly unlikely to be in contention for test team, unless they can display a point of difference. Rather than picking Dan Biggar, who hasn’t got the kicking game of Farrell nor the vision and distribution of Sexton, why not pick someone who has something else. For example, Finn Russell has a superb running and offloading game, and takes the game closer to the gain line. Likewise, George Ford, if he has a dominate pack, can make magical things happen, albeit his defensive frailties are of great concern. It just seems bizarre that if plan A isn’t working your plan B is to bring on a worse form of plan A.

The statistics are damming enough. Wales’ position in the recent Six Nations was the worse for 10 years, yet them are rewarded with the second most players in squad. Gatland again will justify his selection that they are consistent big game players who know how to beat the best. False. Wales have beaten the three southern hemisphere giants on two occasions out of their last twelve. They know how to compete with them, but they don’t know how to beat them.

All the whilst the Irish players who beat New Zealand, are told that that doesn’t count as enough experience to tour. Similarly, the Scottish players to systematically destroyed a Welsh team starring all the players selected – man for man, are told that that counted for nothing.

There are some other specific selections which confuse me, beyond the ones mentioned above. Iain Henderson was fortunate to squeeze in ahead of some very stiff opposition from Donnacha Ryan, Jonny Gray and Joe Launchbury. If either of those three had been selected instead, I would have been pleased. I was surprised by Ross Moriarty’s inclusion but certainly not upset, I believe he had a fine Six Nations and deserved to start ahead of Faletau. Jared Payne’s presence also is a surprise as it is at the expense of Gary Ringrose and Alex Dunbar who I would have preferred.

It seemed that Gatland’s promise of 6 Nation performances counting for Lion places, came with a caveat. With England stumbling in Dublin and Wales pulling out their performance of the tournament against Ireland, his logic appears to be that Ireland are better than England, and Wales are better than Ireland, so Wales are the best and deserve a place at the top table.

Unfortunately, the selection issues don’t spread to just the players. The choice of Rob Howley as attacking coach made sense for continuity sake. However, his second spell as Wales Interim Head Coach has revealed his shortcomings tactically on the international stage. He lacks any great philosophy, only a shuffling between Warrenball and Warrenball light (the ball occasionally makes it outside 12). It would be such a shame to waste such a talented set of backs on derivative up your jumper midfield moves that we associate with Howley’s offensive style.

This brings me onto the main concern. The contradiction of Warrenball and the game plan which will beat New Zealand. The proof is in the pudding, Gatland’s Wales team have never beaten New Zealand, which may not be the fault of their style of play entirely but certainly should take a large portion of the blame.
Ireland displayed how you beat New Zealand perfectly in Chicago. You maintain possession by any means necessary, you are ferocious in attack and defence. Most importantly you mix things up and prevent them getting into any form of stride. Unfortunately, Gatland’s style of formulaic midfield crashes from a big centre followed by some trundling from the forwards, is hardly ground breaking, nor particularly testing.

Fundamentally, you know that New Zealand, no matter the possession or the territory statistics, will score twice or possibly three times a match, such is the class of them. So, the tactics should be based on how to outscore New Zealand. If you are scoring freely and minimising their time with the ball, then that is when the All Blacks make mistakes. Unfortunately, this approach hasn’t been fully considered. As I can applaud the inclusion of some excellent attacking players, however the choice of captain epitomises this lack of thought. This is no bearing on Sam Warburton’s ability as a player, as he is one of the finest back rows in the world, it is more the message it sends tactically. It is a defensive choice, and makes the statement to the world “we are going to tackle and tackle and tackle”. The only problem with that is, that your game plan is based on defending, and that means New Zealand have the ball, which is when they are most dangerous. To give Gatland his dues, he has said that Warburton’s place isn’t guaranteed, but it stills says a great deal about the Lion’s mindset for this tour.
I am very conscious that this article is so negative, but it is a few, albeit key, aspects of the squad that worry me. I hope I am wrong, and will eat my humble pie gratefully when Warburton makes a 59 metre break to put Jonathan Davies in for his hattrick that Leigh Halfpenny converts from the touch line to secure a 3-0 whitewash and his 100% kicking record for the tour. However, I suspect at least some on my concerns are shared by a few others.

I must give credit to Gatland for making some tough decisions. I applaud his selection of Kyle Sinckler, Eliot Daly and Ben Te’o, and hope they are used affectively. Some of the Welsh selections were right, I am big fan of Liam Williams, and their entire back row. The inclusion of Stander, Furlong and O’Mahony is reassuring as well. I am happy with the Scottish selections, just wish there were some more to reflect the progress they have made compared to other Home Nations. So, there is plenty good selections, let’s hope they dictate the series as suppose to the bad ones.

My final thought is that the last tour highlighted the amount of injuries that can be sustained on such an intense tour, and the lack of thought into stand by replacements threatened to drag the reputation of the Lions through the mud. When you invite players to join the tour based on their geographical location or even playing status rather than their ability, then the Lions is no more professional than my 4th team at the local rugby club.

Offline Mugsy

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2017, 09:44:04 AM »
Yeah, Heaslip and Roberts are past their best days and I wouldn't have taken either.
As I was once a petulant, bald, left-footed full back who got involved in rucks and mauls too often, I'm a fan of Brown but he's had an ordinary season by his own standards and isn't making space for others - he's carrying the ball under one arm and running down blind alleys too often and so is too easy to read.
Ringrose should have gone before Henshaw, Payne or Davies so I'll give you that one, and Jonny Gray should have gone before Henderson so I agree there too.
Launchbury is the one glaring error as I've said, and I think he'll get called up.
Gat will have a plan and will have carefully picked the players he believes can deliver it. However I'm a great believer in selecting the very best player in each position and getting as much quality out there as possible, rather than trying to design a team with game plans in mind.


Offline Neil Roseberry

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2017, 07:59:41 PM »
Sorry to lose Ben Youngs from the tour as he rightly chooses to put his family first. My heart goes out to brother Tom and his poorly wife.

Offline LineoutGeneral

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2017, 09:22:52 PM »
I see greig laidlaw got the shout to replace him myself personally I would've took Danny care ahead of laidlaw and young in the first place

Offline Mugsy

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #27 on: May 22, 2017, 10:05:45 AM »
Two bits of bad news in one go:

Biily is out

Haskell is in.

Sheeee - ittt.

Offline LineoutGeneral

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #28 on: May 22, 2017, 10:23:12 AM »
Exactly what I was thinking mugsy think there couldn't of been a worse player to lose to injury in the whole squad that big Billy. If your losing an 8 surely you would replace him with an 8 not a flanker think Nathan Hughes or Heaslip would've been my choice

Offline stuartdm

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Re: Lions tour 2017
« Reply #29 on: May 22, 2017, 02:24:46 PM »
Billy looked like he'd been through the mill on Saturday, every time he made a tackle he struggled to get back - he needs a rest