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Does anyone on here follow Rugby?

Squad and captaincy announcement due tomorrow. 

Wonder if there's going to be any major surprises. Don't expect a huge English contingent...Farrell, Itoje, Watson maybe Sam Simmonds, Manu Tuilagi and Danny Care as possible wildcards. Alun Wyn Jones for captain.

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@HumptyI follow Union pretty closely, especially Northampton Saints.

I think the squad will be heavily Welsh, partly due to their Six Nations victory and partly due to Gatland being in charge. I'd expect the Scots to have more than the usual 2/3 tourists (and rightly so). I'd expect a similar amount of Irish and English.

I think there are a few positions that pick themselves (basically just the backs);

- The back 3, it's hard to look past Rees-Zammit, Watson and Hogg as starters. Think there a few below these that'll get in, 2 maybe 3 of, L.William, May, Nowell, Adams and Earls.

- The midfield Pre-North injury was nailed on I reckon, Henshaw and North (at 12 and 13). With J.Davies and one (potentially both) of Ringrose and Slade. But with North's injury it opens the door for a Tuligai return, personally I'd bring Harris, he had a great Six Nations.

- 10 is fairly solid too I think, Biggar, Farrell and Russell. 

- At 9, in my personal opinion, the 3 you take have to be Murray, Price and G.Davies. Care would be an interesting option, I also think Alex Mitchell at Saints could be a proper wildcard option too.

Then after that I think literally every position in the pack is up for grabs, barring maybe the second row/lock and potentially hooker. I think Itoje and Alun Wyn Jones are the go to men for those starting lock spots, with Ryan and Bierne behind them. Hooker is hard to look beyond Owens and George with the 3rd spot up for grabs.

The front row will be massive, as we saw in the WC final South Africa can and will dominate that area of the game, so we have to pick players that can match that. 

Then in my opinion the backrow is the hardest of spots to pick from. Some very very good players are going to miss out here. For Wales Navidi, Wainwright, Tipuric and Faletau are all in with a shout, Scotland have Watson (who should be nailed on) and Ritchie and then for England, Curry, Vunipola and Underhill, with Simmons as a potential outsider (should be in the England squad) and Ireland's CJ Stander (if he can be coaxed out of retirement).

Should be an interesting 36 man squad, think they'll be a surprise or two. Think it's as good a pool of players to pick from as any we've had for the last decade or two.

Watch none of the players I said were certs get picked now! 😂

Edited by DanFromDownSouth
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Starting with the backs, no massive surprises in terms of who has been selected, barring Aki and Daly. But Daly can cover nearly every backline position, so it makes some sense in taking him, then it makes sense Aki is going as he fills a Tuliagi/Roberts shaped hole of previous tours. The biggest surprise in the backs for me is not having at least one or two of J.Davies, Slade or Ringrose.

The forwards is where there are some big omissions; James Ryan, Billy V, CJ Stander or Underhill plus a very distinct lack of English props. Lawes being included despite his injury is a strange one, then Conan and Hill are two big surprises for me too. Sam Simmonds being involved is not a shock at all for me.

I do not envy the selectors at all!

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I'm surprised to see May miss out of the squad I feel even when not on form he is still capable of producing something. 

Sexton is another big omission although that one is more understandable given Russell's form right now. On that note it was refreshing to see the form player getting selected. But I did think leadership and experience might have edged Sexton in.

It will be interesting to see how Simmonds does having continually being left out by Jones for England despite arguably being the best forward in the country right now.

Screenshot_20210506-131745_Samsung Internet.jpg

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Great post that Dan.

James Ryan is a big surprise for me. He's been superb for Ireland. I also had Sexton in possibly starting. What do i know!

I've heard May is not thought of as a good tourist. He's a peculiar character who is very OCD and needs everything as he likes it. He has a monster recovery process too. I think that's why he's been left out.

Centre's are very underwhelming. I can only assume he's going to play Farrell at 12 and have two ball players at 10 and 12 to bring the back three into to play as often as possible.

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@smogsterking the Inspirati Yeah surprised myself that May didn't get the nod, as he's been playing well for Gloucester. I suppose both England and Gloucester playing poorly doesn't help. But as @Humpty said there has been some talk that May is a bit of an oddball when it comes to camps. I'm sure a few of the England players and maybe Eddie Jones himself have said about May's recovery in the past. I'm sure EJ likened him to a Ferrari that you only take out to get cleaned! 😂

There were 2 big question marks of Sexton, firstly his age and secondly his record with head injuries recently. Think he's had 3 in the last 12 months now. Given calling up replacements will be more constrained this time round, it makes sense to leave him at home. 

Yeah I'm really excited to see Simmons given a run out. Current European player of the year too. He's not a starter for me at the moment, as I think Faletau takes that spot. But injuries and performances in the midweek games will play a part. Credit to Gatland when a player has performed midweek he tends to then give them a test cap. 

It's a bit mad to think he's only really picked 2 out and out locks in Hill (Surprised he got in ahead of Ryan or Beard) and Jones. Itoje, Bierne and Henderson have all had time at 6 or 7. But with the backrow options I think Itoje and Henderson are going as locks, Bierne looks quality in either position.

Centres are strange as well, Henshaw is the form centre and arguably Harris, although I don't see Harris starting 13 come test 1. Think Gatland sees Farrell as his 12, but then do you pair him with Biggar at 10 who is very similar in play style, or do you go for Russell who is very off the cuff. Personally with my Gatland hat on I think test 1 we'll see Biggar (10), Farrell (12) and Henshaw (13) as a defensive, steady (risk free) midfield. 

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The only surprises for me are at Centre.  I'm sorry but Ake and Harris are not Lions centres for me.  Having said that who is better and then you start to struggle as the obvious candidates like Davies and North are injured.  Slade ? but that is about it although Hugh Jones might also have had a shout.  Both may have failed the immaculate defence test

Did some one say England Props ?  Genge is good like his predecessor Joe Marler but both are potential cards in waiting.  Judging props from the touchline is hard as they are always up to something - Brian Moore or Flats might offer a greater insight but mentally when it gets tough is much more important than most of us would believe

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I agree with you @DanFromDownSouth regarding the midfield. I think that's absolutely how we'll start all things being equal. Farrell will be given the chance to play his way into that position in the warm up games, I've no doubt about that. You make a good point regarding Sexton's head injury. When there's not much to choose between them, it's something that's a pertinent consideration especially on hard pitches against physical South African sides.

 

@Rishworthiani keep saying it but if you're taking Chris Harris and Bundee Aki, leave one at home and take Tuilagi on the off chance his fitness picks up. His potential to contribute to this series is vastly greater than those two mentioned. What happens if Henderson picks up and injury now? Would you fancy Aki or Harris to take his spot? i wouldn't. I'd guess you'd actually see one of the back three step into that role.

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@RishworthianYeah I thought one of Genge or Sinkler would have gotten into the squad. They are very capable of playing with the ball in hand, which I think we'll see the Lions try to do in order to negate the South African forward dominance. But I suppose Gatland picking the props he has is more a way of trying to nullify the South African front 3 when it comes to scrums. Genge has mellowed a lot to be fair since he's gone to Leicester and a lot more since he was made captain, still prone to the odd hot headedness mind.

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Dan  to be honest at the end of the day Sinkler is not the greatest technical prop and the  South Africans will find him out.  All props are a bit odd and on some days you get an absolute pasting.  I've had a few but I was not a regular.

As I've said before when you are really under the cosh, how you cope mentally is very important.  Genge is powerful but will do what ever he needs to do to win the contest.  He is prone to stepping out to exert greater pressure - its illegal.

With the centres he's chosen as well he is going to go straight down the middle and see how they like it.  If you do that vulnerability under pressure is unacceptable

That more than anything explains the selections

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@RishworthianYeah it's clear Gatland has a gameplan in mind. I think he's picked props who can scrum very well and in the loose are physical. Sinkler and Genge both fit only 1 of those areas (which sounds harsh as they can scrum), with their ball handing being traded off at the expense of their ability to scrum.

I also find it very interesting that he appears to have picked a very mobile set of locks (Barring Alun Wyn Jones) and he's picked "untraditional" Number 8's also fitting that mobile role in Conan and Simmonds. Also interesting that all the forwards he's picked (ignoring the front 3) are all recognised (or have been at some stage) line-out jumpers. South Africa's set piece game at the WC was near perfect (especially the line-out), to be able to disrupt that and then match their front 3 in the scrum will go a long way in deciding the series I feel.

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Dan no doubt Gatland has decided if you cannot match the physicality of the South Africans there's no point in going.

It seems to me that there is not a lot of time going to be spent playing "pretty" rugby.  He's learnt from the England defeat ( and others) that these guys are efficient, strong and prepared to do what is necessary to dominate.  He has also spotted what he thinks is a weakness he can exploit.

He might also think he can exploit them around the fringes late in the game hence Curry and Simmons not to mention Itoje, Byrne and Lawes who can be a nuisance from minute 0ne.

 

Billy Vinipola may be a big lump that can move a bit but he will get massacred by the Boks and he has not been that good for a couple of years now.  The Boks had his measure in the W.C. final and he has not improved.  Why people thought he should be in the squad was beyond me.  I was far from sure he was worth a place in the 6 nations squad

Ah well it is all opinions - remember the Matt Dawson try for the Lions - that was special.  they are going to have to be that special to win this

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1 hour ago, Rishworthian said:

He might also think he can exploit them around the fringes late in the game hence Curry and Simmons not to mention Itoje, Byrne and Lawes who can be a nuisance from minute 0ne.

I think you've hit the nail on the head regarding selection of certain players and this point.

When you watch Ireland and Wales, Faletau and Conan pop up a lot in those wide channels. Both are relatively quick and have very good handling skills. Then add into the mix Simmonds who is very quick on his feet. I think Gatland has seen that as an area to target.

When you consider the centres he's picked, I imagine it'll be a lot of direct hard running into midfield, to bog the South African's into narrow areas. Then use the likes of Faletau/Conan/Simmonds as the ground makers in wider areas. 

Can't wait for it to start! I love the Lions tours, think they are really special.

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