Shaun Goosen gives his opinion on who he thinks should be in the British and Irish Lions starting XV for their tour of New ZealandThe British and Irish Lions squad to take on New Zealand was announced yesterday. Our two rugby scribes seem to disagree with Lions coach Warren Gatland when it comes to the composition of the starting XV for the first Test. Check out who Shaun Goosen's would have fielded for the first Test:
Loosehead Prop: Jack McGrath
McGrath was superb for Ireland throughout their Six Nations campaign, and he certainly wouldn’t let the Lions' Test side down. Recurring injuries to Mako Vunipola relegate him to a place on the bench.
Hooker: Dylan Hartley (vice-captain)
The England captain may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but his 3. physicality and aggression (should he manage to control it!) could really put the likes of the abrasive Dane Cole under huge pressure at the scrums. Just pips Ireland’s Rory Best.
Tighthead Prop: WP Nel
Perhaps something of a forgotten man, the former Cheetah was ruled out of the northern hemisphere showpiece through injury, but his colossal performances for Scotland in the past should not be ignored.
Lock: Devin Toner
Ireland’s work-horse has the ability to get under the skin of Brodie Rettalick and company, and he may prove a valuable asset on tour.
Lock: Alun Wyn Jones (captain)
The stand-in skipper for the third Test in 2013 assumes command of this vessel. His experience and knowledge of the game will prove invaluable against the threat of the
powerful All Blacks’ lock-pairing.
Blindside Flank: CJ StanderUtterly irrepressible. Stander stands head-and-shoulders above the rest, and his claims to the no. 6 jersey should be all but a formality.
Openside Flank: Sam Warburton
The British Lions captain of four years ago seems to have rediscovered his best form since being relieved of the Welsh captaincy, and he will have a big role to play Down Under.
Eigthman: Billy VunipolaThe big man is a shoo-in to start at the back of the scrum. His physicality and presence is second-to-none.
Scrum-Half: Connor Murray
Arguably the best tactical-kicking nine on the planet, Murray earns his spot after some outstanding performances for both club and country over the past year or so.
Fly-half: Finn Russell
My ‘belter’, Russell played out-of-his-socks during the Six Nations, and should flourish amongst such a talented backline.
Left Wing: Elliot Daly
After ending the Six Nations as Eddie Jones’ first choice left-winger, the Wasps man should be seen as a solid-if-unexpected choice on the left by Gatland and his coaching staff.
Inside Centre: Owen Farrell
A fantastic game-manager, Farrell has the ability to take a lot of pressure off of Russell with his cool head and accurate kicking.
Outside Centre: Jonathan Davies
There is no doubting this man’s pedigree, and he should be given the responsibility of keeping the likes of Anton Lienert-Brown quiet during the Test series. Just nudges out Jonathan Joseph.
Right Wing: George North
The complete package, North is well respected in New Zealand and should start in all three Tests.
Fullback: Stuart Hogg
The dynamo has incredible counter-attacking ability, and he will be seen as a real dangerman by the All Blacks. A legend in the making.