Comments for http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html en-gb 30 Fri 03 Jul 2015 17:40:24 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html fergaljpc http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=99#comment265 squeakybumtime The state of Magners league is that they will this year (again)a team will contest the H cup final, they won the Anglo-Welsh (again) and the Celts (Irish) won the Grand Slam. Need I go on? You may say English rugby is in a healthier state, but it is weaker than the sum of its parts, they lack any sort of consistency, cohesion, imagination, flair or dynamism over the last 5 years. Furthermore they haven't won a major trophy both domestic and internationally since those heady "up the jumper" days of Hillda, Back and Johnno. You seem well able to give your point without taking that of others.Ps. I'm glad I didn't say passion once. Tue 19 May 2009 12:54:23 GMT+1 squeakybumtime http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=99#comment264 alllamb- and since 2003 england have got to another world cup final, so what's your point? stats can be used to anyones advantage, such as the last time Ireland cam to Twickers, you were lead a merry dance....the point I was making was that if they played tomorrow the result would hinge on the venue....and the lions tour is away from home, where Wales and Ireland have 'suspect' record to say the leastellfromgaveny- Shanklin is an 'up the jumper' centre who does a good job on the crash ball in the 'candyfloss league' but up against the 15 st de villiers and co, he will be as effective as shane williams in the lineout Mon 18 May 2009 18:18:15 GMT+1 alllamb http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=98#comment263 squeakybumtime-251Think you should look at the facts, since england won the world cup in 2003, the record ireland v england is ireland won5 (including 2 at fortress twickenham) england won 1 Thu 14 May 2009 11:30:55 GMT+1 ellfromgavenny http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=98#comment262 England2003Got rid of Shanklin?. What a stupid comment, one we are beginning to get used to with yourself. Shanklin would have probably started in the first test and his absence from the squad will be greatly missed, he has been in great form and it must be bitterly dissapointing for himself and O'Leary to miss out.Quinlan only has himself to blame. Another 5/6 injuries and we should be ok, yeh i was thinking maybe Ellis, Shaw, Vickery, Sheridan, Flutey and Monye!!! Thu 14 May 2009 10:19:28 GMT+1 england2003- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=98#comment261 Thank the lord the disciplinary panel have some common sense and realised that Quinlan shouldn't have been anywhere near a lions squad.....this could be the best thing that happened for the lions and for Geech's carreer, we got rid of shanklin and o'leary too, so just another 5 or 6 injuries/suspensions/wife going into labour etc and we might have a chance! Wed 13 May 2009 17:46:07 GMT+1 scottystevenson52 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=97#comment260 Quinlan is the better choice between him and croft but neither of them would get on anyway. the back row will be ireland starting back row as they are the only team that will matchs the bok's.williams is exactly what you want againsta wing like habbana or peterson both wings are extremely fast, while monye is of equal pace he does not have the experience to handle these players whereas williams knows what to do, habbana said it himself that williams is a wing he looks up to.have to say i think that BOD will be the player of the tour this time around with no pressure of any leadership he can do what he wants with less pressure. Wed 13 May 2009 09:27:12 GMT+1 ScotsJack http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=97#comment259 Glad Blair is finally going, even if only as a replacement. Obviously annoyed not more Scots in the squad - Hines and Murray will fly the flag well but would have been good to see Max or Thom Evans on the plane to SA after their SN performances. Chris Paterson as well must be a bit annoyed, consistently the best place kicker in the world on the international stage, and proved that he can play high-octane ball if required to. But enough about the lack of a Scottish contingent. Croft should be going. Halfpenny deserves his place, my early tip to be player of the tournament, Williams a bit of a gamble as well but sure he'll come good as usual. Both have the clinical finishing power needed to take on the Saffies.The 'Boks play with two key aspects - brute force and speed. Monye was a good selection because he showed at Twickenham that he has enough pace to match Bryan Habana, whilst O'Connell and his forwards have the power to put up a fight in the rucks. Having said that, Schalk Burger and Victor Matfield are pretty mean... Tue 12 May 2009 22:38:40 GMT+1 ellfromgavenny http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=96#comment258 HandofjohnsonI agree, Croft must feel so hard done by not being selected. Hopefully he will get picked once Quinlan is cited, he must go ahead of Ryan Jones who looks poorer and poorer everytime he seems to play recently. Oh no i've just agreed with an Englishman!! Tue 12 May 2009 19:28:55 GMT+1 squeakybumtime http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=96#comment257 oh dear elfromgavenny.....I believe it's called irony.....you realy didn't go to school.....as your opinions on rugby show to be someone of 'limited' aptitude and intelligence Tue 12 May 2009 19:28:06 GMT+1 ellfromgavenny http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=96#comment256 There aren't any quality players going cos there aren't any to pick from. Lamont is going to the Scarlets, can't think of any others, and he's Scottish!!Emglish? shot yourself in the foot there chum Tue 12 May 2009 19:19:11 GMT+1 handofjohnson http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=95#comment255 don't bother arguin with the celts....agree with famousalfordlad and england 2003 who got it spot on......this lions tour will be the last as the brand will be gone....then we'll see we these die hard munster fans have to say about rog and the gang...Anyone who saw Tom Croft against Cardiff knows how ridiculous this lions selection policy has been,,,,,If your Irish your in! Tue 12 May 2009 19:18:25 GMT+1 squeakybumtime http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=95#comment254 read it again elfromgavenny as you seem so quick to pick up others mistakes.....maybe you just missed emglish in school!I think there's 14 players selected from blues and munster, which, yes, I aknowledge your padantic attitude isn't quite half......but forget the injuries as these were the 'first choice' players after all. What decent players are going to the magners??? aprt from second rate past it kiwi's? and as for the french league it is of course the strongest as it is the wealthiest and has no salary cap..... Tue 12 May 2009 19:13:38 GMT+1 ellfromgavenny http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=95#comment253 Only five players come from the blues, so if half of 36(tom shanklin is out injured) is 5 then i missed a lot of maths in school. The premiership is so lacking in quality now that all the decent players are either going to France or the Magners Tue 12 May 2009 19:04:53 GMT+1 squeakybumtime http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=94#comment252 so few england players down to the idiocracy of the coaching staff, the majority of which are from the welsh set-up...hmmmas for the HC, half the lions squad are from Cardiff (who lost to leicester) and Munster.....who also lost!Magners league is a joke so teams just focus on HC Tue 12 May 2009 19:00:07 GMT+1 ellfromgavenny http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=94#comment251 If England are so good then why the low count of players in the Lions team? Why only one team in the HC if so good?Wake up to the fact that you are not as good as you once were!!Stop living in the memories of Jonny and the boys, they are long gone squeaky Tue 12 May 2009 18:54:51 GMT+1 squeakybumtime http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=93#comment250 elfromgavenny-when are the celts goin to realise that english rugby is signifficantly healthier than magners etc....england are in a bad state but individually still have better players than ireland /wales....take the 6N's Ireland and wales were 1st/2nd PURELEY BECAUSE THEY PLAYED ENGLAND AT HOME AND ITALY/SCOTLAND AWAY>>>DO U GET IT? if england played ireland/wales tomorrow the result would depend on who had home advantage.....but on neutral ground we know who the bottlers are??If england are in such a terrible state, than it doesn't say much for the rest of the UK! Tue 12 May 2009 18:48:20 GMT+1 ellfromgavenny http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=93#comment249 FamoussalfordladHave you ever heard of spell check?Perhaps the main reason that there are so few english players in the squad is because their heads are so far up their backsides they haven't yet realised, or should i say, they are not prepared to face the facts that English rugby is in it's poorest state for a long time. Had somebody apart from SIR Clive W picked the last tour there would have been a lot less english players touring on the NZ tour and then perhaps that wouldn't have been such a whitewash either. Yes, i'm sure england2003 is going to state now that england were in the last 2 WC finals, but lets be honest it made a mockery of the tournament last time,having a side who were murdered by the boks in the first game and played poorly all the way through,somehow make a final, but that's rugby for you.Face the facts, England are not the team they have been, and whilst us Celts are beating you we'll enjoy every minute until you lot, hopefully not for a long time, start beating us again!!!!!!!!! Tue 12 May 2009 18:12:31 GMT+1 famoussalfordlad http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=93#comment248 i think england2003 watches the same football i do and like me is at atotal lose to understand the selection policy 'Quinlan plays well week in week out for Munster' he's the only not current international in the pack and whisper this but its their backs that have done the buisness this year thats right international selectors think he's Munsters worse player. on saturday Leister play london irish to see who wins the premiership with one British lion on show, its not one of those things its a disgrace. three lions in the top four premiership teams are sure mr mcgehchen Tue 12 May 2009 17:00:46 GMT+1 Tinoflyer http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=92#comment247 scalets17 Croft ain't good enough?I don't think your head is ruling your heart. Unfortunately its the same kind of bias toward heart that has undermined this selection, and indeed the selection overall.I am of course guessing you are a bit of Welsh fan Scalets17..... Tue 12 May 2009 11:20:46 GMT+1 scalets17 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=92#comment246 shane williams should never be a doubt for one and croft haha he aint goin b'cos he just aint as good as the other flankers especailly martyn williams and ryan jones is good but not good enough at the present if you want to win its head over heart in this occation. Tue 12 May 2009 09:24:01 GMT+1 england2003- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=92#comment245 oshanter-Is that to say that nobody can give an opinion unless they are an International manager? have you ever given an opinion on politics or any other topic? I believe you are refering to a communist state!!As for Geech, well is it not ironic that the players have been picked on form (supposedly)? well the lions management haven't had a great season! Wales have undoubtably gone backwards and Wasps have had an absoloute shocker!!Shaun Edwards defensive tacticts were 'revolutionary' when he came from league (however anyone who knows anything about rugby league will realise he just took the exact same model) yet they have now been found lacking as have the ability for both Wales and Wasps to adapt, which is something that would be fundamental in SA.As for Geech being world class......maybe he was, remember the last lions tour was 12 years ago, rugby has gone through many,many changes including the era of professionalism...Geech has been operating as director of rugby for a number of years and they still can't explain to me what they do!! I believe geech has picked a squad based on his beliefs of would win the '97 tour, a team who have great spirit and togetherness (watch the documentary 'living with the lions' for the late night drinking antics) , but this an era of professional athletes not a local social team out for 'the craic', he has got this badly wrong and we will suffer, anyone who watched Tom Croft's dynamic display against cardiff sureley can't disagree that he should be on the tour, as well as many others....I hope I'm wrong....but i'm not Mon 11 May 2009 19:55:07 GMT+1 slrfc87 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=91#comment244 This post has been Removed Mon 11 May 2009 13:39:50 GMT+1 oshanter http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=91#comment243 It is amazing that all of you people know better than the Lions management. I see no contributors to this blog who played or managed at a level near to the stratospheric heights which these guys did.Do you think McGeechan is unproven, when most people who know anything at all about rugby say he is the worlds best. Add to his immense CV that of Shawn Edwards, Warren Gatland, Rob Howley, Graham Rowntree et al under the guiding hand of Gerald Davies.Moaning about the composition of the Lions party is about as useful as saying that "the Boks" are unbeatable which is nonsense.It is an honour to tour with the Lions, but do you imagine that any of the above managers would go there thinking "Oh dear we should have picked x instead of y". They may just have analysed the best players to fit in the TEAM.The people who have not been selected are talented individuals; Croft, Ryan Jones, Henson, Cusiter, Ford, Peel, Stringer, etc are outstanding candidates, but outwith the selectors confidence.Do any of you honestly think that this Lions party will disappoint like the Hendry or the Woodward fiasco's? These guys know what they are doing and have chosen the players to allow the British & Irish Lions to wipe their feet on the springbok hoards in their own backyard! Mon 11 May 2009 12:49:54 GMT+1 england2003- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=90#comment242 I'm sorry 'daithimax'.....what is your point? that munster (recently knocked out of the HC of course....winning mentality???), LOST to a second/third string, tired, end of tour NZ team? CONGRATULATIONS, that's right up there with the might welsh team winning the 'stare out' competition (yet losing the actual game of course)......let's not forget that when the SH teams tour the UK they are only interested in the England games due to the financial asspects it creates, they didn't even bother playing Ireland!!Can you read sir? I suggest you try again and then you'll see I have no problem with Munster.....I have a problem with the Lions selectors trying to tack the Munster side to beat SA!!!As for name 'England 2003', well.....we won a world cup (and got to the final of the last one) and considering the streets of Dublin were paved with supporters that can only be compared with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, just because you won a six nations for the first time since Gandhi ate his flip-flop, well, what would happen if YOU won the world cup.....never going to happen of course. I live in Wales and have seen the 'im-promptue' outbreak of parties and celebrations (quite literally) that happen when a grand slam or just the beating england occurs......so quite honestly your just jealous! Mon 11 May 2009 10:45:20 GMT+1 daithimax http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=90#comment241 Have to say cringe is just one of the words that come to mind when reading "England2003" and his repeated attempts to justify his ridiculous tirade when the evidence is there for all to see. Whatever it is thats got him hot under the collar about Munster its clearly clouding whatever vision he might have once had. Just to point out one example - http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/7736564.stm Whatever about the result those Munstermen know how to stare down the very best in the world and we'll all need that and more in SA. Is there another team in the UK or Ireland that could possibly match those guys in being able to do that? Leicester perhaps but not many more after them. As for the aforementioned "England2003" even his choice of name suggests enough for us to speculate.... Tattoos and Bulldogs anyone? Cringe.. Sun 10 May 2009 16:34:08 GMT+1 K223FSH http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=90#comment240 ArmitageI have to say if you are Armitage then you are feeling deeply upset about not being selected. I have not met one person who thinks he should not have been included. He is just a great athlete and is able to go past players like they are not there. I dont grudge any of the other guys their places, but surely the coaches could have tried a little harder to get at least one more scot involved?? I am just praying one of the two make the test team, or how can we truly feel part of the great feeling you get when supporting the Lions.. Sat 09 May 2009 13:31:50 GMT+1 wixnations http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=89#comment239 From what i'm able to ascertain here the majority of those with a problem with the selection are english. If I were an englishman i'd be thankful you were able to get 9 players in. Yes some of those selected were unlucky, such as delon armitage. But sometimes a player has to be sacrificed for the good of the team as a whole.The comment that england and scotland together would thrash wales and ireland is utterly laughable. Did wales and ireland not just disprove this point before you even raised it?! by beating them as seperate entities in the six nations- I think you've just put two and two together and made four!As for the argument regarding cip and wilko's presence on the lions squad should be seem in their reflection on their nation's squad. The majority of those selected have shown form for both their club and country and is not the result of having a certain new zealnd manager.If anyone should feel disgruntled it's the scottish not the english Tue 05 May 2009 10:08:16 GMT+1 england2003- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=89#comment238 In fact gary, I feel I may have over complicated my response....Would Munster beat South Africa?.......NO, as a team munster are the best province (due to their 10 year stint together for club and country) but that will not be enough to beat SA, the lions must have the best 15 players in their individual positions to have a chance, and they haven't. Individually the Munster players will get found out-example if quinlan is playing midweek with Worsley and powell, he will be in BIG trouble as his whole game depends on the relationships he has forged with is munster colleagues. Individual ability is all the lions have- the idea to bring 30 or so individuals together and create a new team, not take the irish squad and a few others, and try and 'add them' to the munster mentality, just won't work as the players won't buy into it. Sat 02 May 2009 13:00:42 GMT+1 england2003- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=89#comment237 Garycroke-Your right....you shouldn't have bothered....'If your point is that the Munster pack spending extra time together in the Ireland set up is an unfair advantage'No gary, as articulate as you intended to be, the point was entirely missed, the point was the IRELAND pack has an advantage spending day in/day out training and playing together.......Unfair or otherwise.....This creates a team ethos that no other country (wales apart) can claim to have, what then happens is that the team becomes more than the sum of its parts....get it now gary??As for your other IRRELEVANT point that england have more players to pick, well that is just common sense and wasn't the point I was making,I'll try and explain it to you with a simple analogy.....If England Football team plays Australia Football team, the result is close, England should win but it's not a certainty.....If the 20th best team in england play the 20th best team in Australia, the english team wins 10-0......now before some idiot reads this and makes literal response about football and Australia, please don't as you'll just make yourself look stupid....So Gary if any team playing elite sport had there team together every day, for every game, for about 10years then they really should have a fighting chance!!!!As for the Hard grounds comment.....oh dear, I expected more....read it again and think about it.....when was the last time Ireland won in the SH Sat 02 May 2009 12:45:40 GMT+1 orangedrink http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=88#comment236 I don't think it's far to say at all that Halfpenny was picked purely on his club form. He played very well for Wales up until Mark Jones regained fitness as well. I'm at a loss to explain what Simon Shaw and Average Joe Worseley have done to warrant inclusion though. I thought Tom Croft was superb, as Ian Gough always is for Wales. And after 2 games of the 6N Ryan Jones was playing very well. His lineout work in one game won him particular praise even fronm this site. But the media has turned on him and now he's not going. TO be honest it seems like a lot of players were selected solely on those Heineken Cup quarter finals, not on class. Sat 02 May 2009 05:08:05 GMT+1 wishart731 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=88#comment235 I think Strokosch would have been selected if Hadden had played him consistantly over the past couple of years. He is extremely powerful, tackles like worsely but has more to his game than just tackling. Fri 01 May 2009 15:38:51 GMT+1 crokey http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=87#comment234 England2003,Usually wouldn't bother, but I can't help myself.First of all, I'll give you a pass on that China comment as you were clearly drinking at the time.Munster are the best club (provincial, semantics, whatever) side in the NH at the moment. If your point is that the Munster pack spending extra time together in the Ireland set up is an unfair advantage, why do you complain so bitterly about extending this advantage to the Lions? A little bit of ethnocentricity induced hypocrisy maybe?And this is a gem: "when was the last time the munster pack played on the hard grounds of south africa, away from home..." So your alternative is to pick which eligible players who do have extensive experience on the 'hard grounds of SA'? As you so vehemently point out, the Munster pack is essentially the same as the Ireland pack, so they have experience of touring the SH together.If your point instead is that numerical distillation gives Munster their edge, I beg to differ:http://www.rfu.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/RFUHome.simple_Detail/StoryID/11019For each senior player in Ireland, there are roughly 18 in England. In a pretty simple first-order analysis, this gives each top-tier team in England 6 times as many players to choose from than an Irish province.I know you're sore that England aren't great at the moment, but hey, don't worry mate, that'll change. Incidentally, I'm Irish (from Munster, can you tell?), lived in England for years, am in no way anti-English, and I like Sheridan, Flutey (not at 10, the drink again?) and possibly Monye for the test team at the moment. Oh, and I think they can win. Fri 01 May 2009 15:18:30 GMT+1 Tinoflyer http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=87#comment233 Did O'Gara "bottle" it when he hit the drop goal that sealed the Grand Slam?Did you see Heaslip sidstepping the French fullback to score a try?Love it,pick two recent moments and thats the point proven.For every Grand Slam winning drop kick of O'Gara you can find a hatful of untaken Irish chances in the past - Munster is a different story, but then at club level know one would argue that Charlie Hodgson has been one of the best in the Premiership in recent years - on his day at club level, some would argue he has no equal.Throw him in an international shirt and he looks like one of the kids from the half time entertainment. O'Gara is not quite that bad, but from an international level, he has never exactly won unanimous support. He lost his bottle against England, by the way.As for Stephen Jones - he is uninspirational. Thats why Wales has been looking for a replacement for so long - He rotates with Hook because they want that much more.Suffice to say going into the lions tour, number 10 is our weakest position. Fri 01 May 2009 11:38:06 GMT+1 RMJM12 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=87#comment232 captainThatcher: "... Its all too boring, a load of irish duds, welsh no hopers. If it was Eng and Scot vs Ire and Wales, E and S would thrash them The main problems are:O'Gara bottles it 9 times out of 10 unless he plays for MunsterS Jones - uninspirational (everyday)The back rowers are slow, past it and overweightThe backs have cutting edge to them at all"I don't know where to start with this nonsense!1) So a team comprised of this year's and last year's SN champs would be beaten by a team picked from the losers?2)Did O'Gara "bottle" it when he hit the drop goal that sealed the Grand Slam? The man has won 2 European Cups and in all likelihood will shortly add a third to that. his defence is poor, but anyone who knows anything about rugby will tell you that, ball in hand, he is one of the most creative 10s in world rugby3)S Jones unispiration and everyday?! As with O'Gara, Jones has proved himself time and again on the international stage. Let me guess, you think Jonny should be going and that all other 10s pale by comparison?4) Which backrowers are slow and overweight? David Wallace is one of fastest players in the Ireland Squad. Did you see Heaslip sidstepping the French fullback to score a try? Have you ever seen Martyn Williams' support play in the loose (hint: he's always where he needs to be)?5) Apart from O'Driscoll, Halfpenny, Shane Williams, Tommy Bowe, Earls, Shanklin and Fitzgerald, I'd agree, the backs lack a cutting edge!!!Why don't you just accept that, this time around, there are more Irish and Welsh players in the frame than there are English, by virtue of better recent results. Thu 30 Apr 2009 14:03:59 GMT+1 greybelfastmike http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=86#comment231 the reason both Kearney and Fitzgerald are on the lions squad is that they have both enjoyed successful seasons with both club and country. Kearney and Byrne are very close in terms of ability and selection will result from the best early tour form. Kearney is exceptional under the high ball, a certain tactic on the hard grounds and at altitude. As he catches and lands he is already moving forward and he unerringly beats the first man. He also has a powerful left boot and could well be a candidate for the left wing berth, forming a formidable back 3 with Byrne and Bowe. Fitzgerald is also a man in form with his club/region in the HC semifinals. He has good gas, tackles above his weight and a very good try record this season. He also covers well in the centre where he has partnered O'Driscoll more than once this season.Armitage has been England's best back this season, but he is not better than the 2 before him, Byrne and Kearney. He may have taken the odd penalty but he is very inconsistent, need I remind you of his feeble attempts at drop goals...yes I know he nailed 1, hardly a recommendation for a Lions place. He is not as secure under the high ball, a certain SA tactic and his tactical kicking is not that clever. He has not yet achieved the depth of all round experience that the other 2 full backs have already amassed in the HC as well as 6N or in games against the SH sides. He may well develop into a Lions type FB but not yet, he is well behind the others and clearly is only 3rd in the 'ratings'. Nicky Robinson may well be doing his stuff for Cardiff but if he is not in the international panel, (and before you jump on it both Earls and Quinlan were in the match and extended squads only injury kept them out..well Earls certainly was)and needs to be playing in a good side on the top of their form regularly, not just in the HC, look at Cardiff's Magners form, not good is it! Thu 30 Apr 2009 13:49:37 GMT+1 DaiMoggs81 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=86#comment230 After the initial shock of not seeing Croft in there I can now understand why they have gone with Quinlan. I dare say Croft will make an appearance at some point.I only would have disagreed with two other selections D Armitage and Nicky Robinson in for Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald.Chuffed Halfpenny is in there, he's been faultless all season and has shown alot more hunger than some of his welsh counterparts. For a young guy, nothing phases him, he steps up every time. Thu 30 Apr 2009 07:59:04 GMT+1 casa15 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=86#comment229 We need to see where the born leaders are - england have suffered from this, but Lions Tours always bring them out; especially with Geech at helm Thu 30 Apr 2009 04:55:38 GMT+1 casa15 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=85#comment228 Think story about characters/happy tourist - spot on. This one also made me happy, as have jsut found ultimate touring site - tourlegends.com Thu 30 Apr 2009 04:52:41 GMT+1 daveyboywolf http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=85#comment227 I don't understand still, why Tom Croft has still not been put in the squad? First the whole argument of form is out of the question, as he is the most inform player at the moment, I have yet to see him have a really bad game this season. And as for the humour excuse? That seems to me to be a stupid excuse, as I would of thought humour would of been the last thing the Lions would of wanted to bring to South Africa. I do not agree with the whole, he will come from no where and fight for a place either, as surely every single player called to that squad will be fighting for a place in my view. The rest of the squad is reasonable in my view. Maybe Harry Ellis could be a weak link. I am a tigers fan and I think Ellis is a brilliant player when he wants to be, but sometimes stupidity and childish antics ruin his game (E.g. The Dan Carter incident) where he'll just do stupid things and give away stupid penalties! Thu 30 Apr 2009 00:06:39 GMT+1 Hookers_armpit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=84#comment226 Blair should be the replacement scrum half. He should have been there instead of Ellis anyway - most Tigers fans would agree.Monye looked way out of his depth in the Autumn internationals against the SH - he is fast but that isn't enough. Happy to be proved wrong on this....I'm not sure about Quinlan - unproven on the international stage shouldn't get you a Lions place. Again, could be wrong.Sorry not to see Jones in the back row mix - seems like a good guy to me and I'm sure his form will return if he gets a run at 8. Still, even though Powell isn't all that effective I do like seeing him charge at defences... Wed 29 Apr 2009 19:20:44 GMT+1 VonStoobing http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=84#comment225 It will be a big surprise to me if Shane Williams starts the opening Lions test. He seems to have porked up a bit, and slowed down. His form for the past three months has been distinctly average.As for scrum half, Mike Blair and especially Chris Cusiter are both better than Ellis and the unfortunate O'Leary, but I fully expect Cusiter to get the call up. Saying that, Blair was one of the 5 IRB Players of the Year for 2008 so deserves more respect than he's getting from the Lions selectors, and also from an English press that clearly haven't watched any Scottish rugby this year. Care is a B-lister while Peel has suffered with Sale's mysterious selection policy this season.Nicky Robinson being on standby for one big performance in the EDF Final should set the alarm bells ringing though. The selection policy has been haphazard and this exemplifies that.As for Quinlan, well, the Irish bristling over comments regarding his inclusion can only be answered by his performances on the pitch. Oh, and his banter. Tue 28 Apr 2009 18:14:25 GMT+1 mr_tiger_fish http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=84#comment224 As a dyed in the wool Leicester fan, I have to say that there is too much fuss about the Tom Croft/Alan Quinlan debate. Quinlan's selection is fully deserved and clearly fits into a wider picture relating to the planned approach to come away from this tour with a win. Tom Croft is a very high class young forward with a tremendously athletic physique. One could also add that he is as hard as nails. He's young, he'll have his day. On the Crumbie there are few real legends that get the fans talking but Quinlan is certainly one of them. We recognise what he brings to the team and how he quietly gets on with the business of being a competitive back row forward. No sour grapes there. At Leicester, the fans hold Munster players and fans in the highest regard. Selecting around a core of tightly knit performers such as Munster class of '09 is part of the genius Geech brings. It shows how he understands what is required to win. It is nothing to do with bringing along the best individuals.One last thought... he hasn't received any press nor any comments here - but Lewis Moody is back to fitness. He has time to prove himslef as a possible tour replacement - if he does I would not be surprised to see him in the test side. His all round play is something that makes ex-BRFs watch in awe.I'm a little sad that there is so much dissing of so many excellent rugby players in favour of 'my club's finest' and so much petty tribalism. Best wishes to the boys in SA.Tiger_Fish Tue 28 Apr 2009 12:52:08 GMT+1 BucksWelsh http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=83#comment223 196 - handofjohnson and 213 - stuc23:"S.Williams too little and out of form"Out of form by his high standards he is, but he may well have cemented his selection for the Lions tour in 2008 because of his outstanding performances in the Wales v SA series (in SA) and the 6N. Indeed he may be the only one going who is not picked on current form but more to do with what he CAN do.Thankfully there are top international players that prove rugby is STILL a sport that EVERYONE can play - Williams, Giteau, Dominici, Austin Healey and Jason Robinson (both recently retired) et al - all comparatively LITTLE men. Such men are agile, quicker off the mark and regularly leave the larger 'lumbering' majority grasping at thin air! In other words they are great for creating extra space for themselves and their team to operate in.I predict that S. Williams will soon be back to his havoc-wreaking best and that 'half-weight' L. Halfpenny (S. Williams Mark 2) will also be causing similar panic in the defensive ranks.Are there any world class gymnasts who are LARGE? Tue 28 Apr 2009 12:16:13 GMT+1 Tinoflyer http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=83#comment222 wishart731I am not sure how far form is used in the selection process. It seems recent form for the Cardiff Blues is very important, although Andy Powell could only have been selected on last Autumns form. Halfpenny by the selectors own admission has made a late charge following his recent performances in particular against a truly awful Gloucester side.However, when it comes to others, there Autumn form has been discounted as well as their club form, with preference given to their 6nations form. Blair was on the shortlist for world player of the year last year, clearly good enough - but did not do enough behind a poor pack in the 6nations.It does not make sense - which is why I feel he may miss out on this call up - which makes even less sense given the Scots almost beat the Boks last year with Blair playing a crucial role.Suffice to say, selection has been somewhat baffling - but obviously Cardiff Blues (third bottom in the Magners) have done something to impress someone.There are a number of roles beeing implemented, which is why I think Nicky Robinson (12 Welsh Caps and number 10 for the third worst team in the Magners) is sitting on the standby list. Whatever anyone says about the Welsh/English/Scottish/Irish mix - some of the Welsh lads can count themselves luck that the criteria used for ruling some players out, like Blair and Croft have not been used on them. Tue 28 Apr 2009 11:17:33 GMT+1 wishart731 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=83#comment221 If Blair doesn't go now i'd be gutted. Edinburgh are sitting 3rd in the magners league just beating the Ospreys in Wales and Blair is one of their best and most consistant performers if Earls and Quinlan can get picked on their club form why can't Blair. Tue 28 Apr 2009 09:35:56 GMT+1 wolves http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=82#comment220 my team would have been 1 jenkins2 flannery3 murray4 oconnell5 a w jons6 croft7 wallace8 heaslip9 peel10 o'gara11 strettle12 fluety13 o'driscal14 bowe15 byrneif all were fit and picked for the squad that is... Mon 27 Apr 2009 20:10:33 GMT+1 cozmanKO http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=82#comment219 I think it is laughable the amount of people criticising the Irish/welsh players and calling for greater numbers of english players in the lions squad. Theres a reason the coaches didnt pick many english players...because they are no good. england have been rubbish for the last few years..all brawn and no class except for 1 performance against a french team who didnt turn up. The only player from england who can have genuine grievances is delon armitage (who should have gone instead of monye). vickery and shaw among others were lucky to go. People need to realise that criticised players like o gara, quinlan and earls were picked for a reason..because they are winners and will offer more to the tour than some of the mediocre players suggested by the english posters.Symapthies go to o leary but i think peel should be the man to replace him now Mon 27 Apr 2009 18:48:46 GMT+1 oconneda http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=81#comment218 congrats to quinlan, a fantastic player and one who deserves to be there on merit.Its always nice to take some proven winners on tour.you know guys with medals in there pockets.So it is no suprise that the lions team is mainly irish and Welsh.Congrats to a lot of scottish rugby fans who have taken this in good stead and can appreciate a team under achieving cannot shout to loudly about inclusion.now is no time for division anyway , so lets get fully behind all the players from every nation.lets have them Mon 27 Apr 2009 18:37:30 GMT+1 michealsc http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=81#comment217 the lions are supposing the best from players from the four home nations but many people say they will lose against the worse team from last years tri-nations. it just shows the huge gap between the southern hemishpere and the northern hemishpere in terms of skill Mon 27 Apr 2009 17:59:33 GMT+1 Nickthehalfback http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=81#comment216 Also I don;t think Fitzgerald is going or Cueto? Both should be a bit gutted. Lewsey too, a total England legend. Mon 27 Apr 2009 17:00:24 GMT+1 Nickthehalfback http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=80#comment215 Unlucky people (in my opinion):Croft (in a big way, he should be going)ArmitageTait (not enough England time to justify selection, which is criminal of Martin Johnson)Tom Evans (gas)Kennedy (had a great 6N)Blair (sort of...)Is anyone else really worried that we are only taking TWO FLYHALFS? Both of them brittle, Jones missed plenty of tackles on the last Lions tour and I see no reason he won't again, hello Devilliers crash ball or Spies just running over him. O'Gara shows similar weaknesses, I just would have been happy if we'd taken a fly who can tackle (Flood, good form in the 6N but decision making not as good as the other two). Surely we could have taken an extra ten or a centre who could double up (flutey? BOD?). If Wilko was fit, I would have taken him.On a big plus, I reckon Halfpenny and Bowe are really going to shine out there, though I didn't really rate Philips in the 6N. Thought Ellis was better. And Flutey for 12, Kearney at 15 (Bowe has no form to speak of, Armitage should really have gone...) Monye should start ahead of Shane at the mo, unless he hits his peak in training. Mon 27 Apr 2009 16:58:42 GMT+1 ChelseaBlueQuin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=80#comment214 213 stuc23borthwick is probably the last name on the england team sheet for most england fans lolhis continued captaincy is one of the greatest grey areas of johnsons reign so far IMO Mon 27 Apr 2009 14:37:11 GMT+1 ChelseaBlueQuin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=80#comment213 people who are questioning the selection of monye will be eating humble pie come the end of may/june. On the hard SH pitches you wait and see him flying down the wing, you couple that with the fact that he is a very solid defender and i honestly think he will end up starting at least one of the tests with williams/halfpenny on the other wingas good as armitage was for england in the 6N going forward i read somewhere that he actually made the most errors in the tourney? Im a big fan of his and think he will become a very good player indeed, but i dont think you can doubt that byrnes defence is better along with kearney and with there only being 2 full backs he is just unluckyeveryone needs to forget the flutely situation as these are the bare facts, he plays for england, the lions are selected from the squad of players from the english, irish, welsh and scottish teams, so that includes him GET OVER IT!!!my 15 would bebrynemonyeboweBODfluteyjonesphillipsheaslipwilliamswallacePOCwynn jonesmurrayflanneryjenkinson the replacement SH i might sound biased as a quins fan but i would likie to see care go, we are going to need an impact player who can come on and do the unexpected Mon 27 Apr 2009 14:28:13 GMT+1 StuC23 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=79#comment212 Correct me if i'm wrong but.....If the Lions squad was picked on form, why is Shane Williams who's going through a 'dip in form' goign to SA? Don't get me wrong, he's a brilliant winger and i'd definatly take him, but does this not seem like double-standards?He went to New Zealand and got found out, great step, great pace, but against a big strong winger, he's in trouble at points. Would he outdo Habana? Also, would Simon Shaw have gone if he'd not been playing for Wasps? Why pick him ahead of his national captain in his position? If Steve Borthwick is captain of England, surely he must be first name on teamsheet and therefore must be better than Shaw.I'm Scottish and obviously disappointed to see only 2 Scots in the squad. Is it wrong to say Ford, Strokosch, Hamilton, Blair, Cusiter and at least 1 of the Evans brothers are unlucky? Ok Scotland were poor in the 6 nations, but im pretty sure as individuals, many of them played better than some who have been selected.I can't get my had round having 4 Irish back rowers and i feel if you're not god enough to play for your country in the 6 nations (namely Quinlan) then you're not good enough to be picked for the Lions, simple as that. It's not as if he's young and has the potential to be a star (in the same way Halfpenny is), he's been around the block and if he still can't get in the Ireland team, why is he in the Lions squad, being a good laugh isn't good enough in my opinion. Mon 27 Apr 2009 14:16:24 GMT+1 martin_matty http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=79#comment211 I think there is little purpose in over analysing the squad Mcgeechan & co have chosen, sure Armitage, Croft and others were unlikely to miss selection but as stated in earlier posts, replacements will be needed in due course.All in all the squad chosen is close to the best squad possible based on form and availability. The debate should about the scope for the Lions to achieve success.Clearly there are some glaring weakness and areas where the Lions may come up short. It's likely the games will be determined in the forwards, specifcally at the breakdowns. Size, speed and strength are in abundance in the Springbok team and will be very hard for the Lions to match.Aswell as having superior loose forwards, in Matfield, Roussouw, Botha and Booker the Springboks have 4 big men (of which three will likely be on the field at any time) who will also give the Boks a distinct advantage in the lock (and backrow if they play 'big'). Hines, O'Connell, Shaw etc match them for size but not speed and allround ball running ability.As such the Boks appear to have the forwards to dominate the series.Speed out wide for the Lions could be nullified given Habana and JP Peterson are two of the best defensive wingers going around and certainly won't lose out in the pace stakes.If the Boks have a weakness it is in the halves. New combination and a possible lack of imagination/combinations will help the Lions, though O'Gara/Jones will have to be well protected from Berger & co.To win, the Lions need patience and must dictate the pace of the game; they will need to be near perfect in the set pieces - line outs, scrums, use of penalties etc. The fact that the Boks are still playing under the ELV's could play into the Lions hands - specifically with the rolling mauls and paricularly early in the series.I hope the Lions get up but if punting, I'd put cash on a 2-1 Bok victory. Mon 27 Apr 2009 13:22:23 GMT+1 stevenmat111 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=78#comment210 The whole Croft vs Quinlan debate is ridiculous, its obvious to see that Mcgeechan has a game plan worked out and has picked 2/3 forwards in each position that fulfil the requirements of this, it makes sense for all 37 to play to this style whether Test contenders or not. Croft has missed out because the forwards have been selected very defensively and power orientated, although highly skilled and an attacking threat, Croft is not going to drive a Matfield or Spies off the ball at the breakdown. Mon 27 Apr 2009 01:34:54 GMT+1 squeakybumtime http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=78#comment209 Anyone who thinks SH rugby is not far superior to NH is nothing but deluded.... follow link to article below which sums it up.....http://internationalrugbynews.co.uk/opinion/peter-bills/the-super-14-shows-the-north-is-being-left-behind-again.html Sun 26 Apr 2009 14:14:37 GMT+1 aitchin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=78#comment208 your optimism is impressive alllamb, and i do hope your right. But as someone who is neutral in this spat, i think it is misplaced. To take the two teams you mention. Neither wales nor ireland has ever won a test match in SA. If Ireland are the best team in the NH (I can only assume we are basing that on them having won one tournament in 20 years, or whatever it is) then that does not bode well. the AB's smacked Ireland by 20 points in november on their own patch. Just think how inconceivable the reverse is, and then consider the gap between NH and SH teams. Sun 26 Apr 2009 08:47:10 GMT+1 alllamb http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=77#comment207 Handofjohnsen- first to say howllett, all backs leading try scorer, is past it is a joke. And i'm not talking about players moving to the NH, Giteau and Mitchell told the Western Force half way through the season they want to leave at the end. And Elsom hasn't confirmed yet that he will go back to Oz.How have Ireland improved since 2003? They have got better! As well as the addition of players like Heaslip/Ferris/Kearney/Bowe. And i do agree Ireland are in danger of doing what England did having too many players retire together, but at the moment they are the best team in the NH. Englands 'new period' started 6 years ago and they have done little in it. My orginal point is that the gap between NH rugby and SH rugby is not as wide as people think and i expect a mainly Irish and Welsh lions team to prove that in South Africa. Sun 26 Apr 2009 05:49:13 GMT+1 Ovalhopeful http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=77#comment206 Really surprised that Cueto not included given his finishing ability - Lions have got to be clinical to be competitive. Also bemused by comments being "reactively moderated" - any chance of getting them on the site in 48 hours? Sat 25 Apr 2009 19:33:56 GMT+1 handofjohnson http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=77#comment205 ALLLAMB- how do the oz/nz teams not care? there's only carter who has taken 'sabatical' to the NH who would actually be playing in the NZ team, the rest - howllett,jack,somerville,collins,marshall,gear,umaga(now coaching) et al were/are finished at international level, the top players are all still in NZ and can't think of any aussie playing in NH aprt harrisson (37), latham (33) and elsom- who wasn't in international contention before he left and now they want him back, and he's going back! if anything there are more BOKS in CURRENT international form/selection that are plying their trade away from home, e.g. james,montgomerry (back now), mathfield had a stint in france. Your claim makes little sense.....As for england not performing well being the reason NH rugby is poor i disagree, the FACT is ireland/wales haven't improved in 5 years, just that england/france are in a new period as happens when a group of players of similar age retire at the same time e.g, johnson,dallaglio,hill,back etc, Ireland will find this in 2-3 years when o'connell, o'gara,o'driscoll,hayes,o'callaghan,quinlan, retire as they are of the same age: Ireland six nation squad 2003:Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne FC/Leinster) Girvan Dempsey (Terenure College RFC/Leinster) Gavin Duffy (NEC Harlequins) Guy Easterby (Rotherham RFC) Shane Horgan (Lansdowne FC/Leinster) Tyrone Howe (Dungannon RFC/Ulster) David Humphreys (Dungannon RFC/Ulster) Kevin Maggs (Bath Rugby) Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers) Brian O'Driscoll (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster) Peter Stringer (Shannon RFC/Munster) [edit] ForwardsSimon Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) Shane Byrne (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) Reggie Corrigan (Greystones RFC/Leinster) Simon Easterby (Llanelli RFC) Anthony Foley (Shannon RFC/Munster) John Hayes (Shannon RFC/Munster) Marcus Horan (Shannon RFC/Munster) Eric Miller (Terenure College RFC/Leinster) Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster) Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster) Malcolm O'Kelly (St. Mary’s College RFC/Leinster) Alan Quinlan (Shannon RFC/Munster) Frankie Sheahan (Cork Constitution/Munster) David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster) 12 of the above are current internationals, so have ireland improved??same players!!! Sat 25 Apr 2009 18:21:01 GMT+1 alllamb http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=76#comment204 hand of johnson the reason SA are dong well n the super 14 NZ and OZ teams dont care about the league. NZ and OZ players are wanting to double there money elsewhere. Having watched a lot of 'super' 14 rugby there s not many teams here that would trouble munster. And just because england aren't performing does not mean NH rugby s poor. Just sour grapes mate. Sat 25 Apr 2009 17:00:10 GMT+1 handofjohnson http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=76#comment203 IRELAND/WALES AREN'T BETTER THAN ENGLAND, there I said itIf we played each other at twickenham england would win, at croke park/millennium stadium, wales/ireland would win.......neutral venue - e.g. a world cup, see 2007/2003/1999/1995 world cups for details of performance on neutral venues Sat 25 Apr 2009 14:36:17 GMT+1 handofjohnson http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=75#comment202 post 198 allamb....NH rugby is better than SH???????????????????????????????????.........Munster would win super 14?????????sun's got to you I think mate, too much foster's down there!!I watch super 14 and there's no comparisson, as for comparing it to magners league??? crikey, munster can win the magners fielding the reserves, can't do that in super 14, and there is certainly more than 3 teams who can win it, crusader are 8th and they won it last year, no SA team had won it till 2 years ago now there's 3 in top 4! in 30 years munster/ospreys will still be top of magners as anyone who can catch a ball in ireland/wales ends up playing for them! Sat 25 Apr 2009 14:32:33 GMT+1 rugbyblogger http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=75#comment201 how funny it is to observe English bias. Tom Croft? i recall watching him finish a lineout(which is not a backrow's most important duty) and stay in the 15 yard channel for a good view of the rest of the play, until the ball may come back down the line to him and he can use his pace(he should focus on his technical skills) to run back into touch....another lineout. Whereas watching Quinlan, M. Williams, Wallace they're rarely further than a few metres from the ball, constantly working/creating and securing vital ball for the scrum-half. Subsequently the inclusion of Ellis, seems to be unbelievably misguided, only coming back to form, which at it's best doesn't merit inclusion into the "Best of the best". Peel clearly merits inclusion as a contrast the physicality of Phillips/O'leary and deserves to replace the injured munster-man with his quickness of mind and delivery. Sat 25 Apr 2009 11:42:38 GMT+1 peadar-the-giant http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=75#comment200 With the unfortunate injury to O'Leary -- the answer to everyone's prayers.It's a no-brainer . . . . Henson to replace him.And with O'Connell missing last night's match due to a slight niggle . . . . Henson the obvious replacement here as well.Oh wait, that IS a no-brainer!And I see that Butch James is also going to miss the series for the Boks, so the obvious replacement is . . . . . 'let's hear it for everyone's favourite replacement!'So, based on certain posted opinions, that would make 1 'comedian' and 1 'clown'.Seems like obvious symmetry to me. Sat 25 Apr 2009 08:59:48 GMT+1 tri2009 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=74#comment199 Some imteresting comments from various angles! I can't help but feel that the "nouveau England rugby supporter" is not used to playing second fiddle to other nations! As for Super 14, there are some truly oustanding players but it is rugby's version of basketball. There are 2 or 3 really strong sides just like in the Celtic League and the Premier League. How does this relate to the Lions. Lions Tours are, in the main about gaining momentum and a squad that is motivated to perform for each other. Only time will tell as to whether the right players are on the plane. Sat 25 Apr 2009 08:40:25 GMT+1 oceangoing http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=74#comment198 I have no problem with Alan Quinlan as a Lion. He played well last night. But if the coaches want someone to humour them then why not take someone like Max Boyce. The coaches need reminding that it is a proffesional era. Proffesional rugby players to play rugby and proffesional entertainers to entertain. Maybe, a good comedian was what was missing on the fated NZ tour. Will Alan Quinlan expect extra payment for his off the field duies? Sat 25 Apr 2009 06:17:21 GMT+1 alllamb http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=74#comment197 Anyone who thinks sh rugby is superior to nh rugby hasn't been watching much super 14. Super 14 is been ripped apart by money like world rugby is, its affecting players loyalities to clubs as they don't have any, money talks. How would munster do in the super 14? They would walk it as they play similar style of rugby to most super 14 sides, big dominating pack trying to bully other sides and releasing quick backs but what munster have over super 14 sides is organisation. I live in oz and watch lot of super 14 and it reminds me of headless chickens. People also seen to forget that at the last world cup, little more than year and half ago, SA weren't given no chance, it was NZ all the way with only the wallibies able to stop them, france and ireland dark horses, SA no chance.As for all this ROG bashing, its unjustified, the guy is world class, can control a game, ok he can't tackle a guy 5/6 stone heavier than him, not many can but he puts his body on the line and like all FH he needs protection. Yes SA will target the FH like any team will do, thats why i'm looking forward to seeing heaslip, williams, wallace, ferris running down the channel straight at pretorius or whoever they put at 10. The lions are going to SA with a great coaching team, the best lock and outside centre in the world, this team is going there for one reason, to win. Sat 25 Apr 2009 01:02:11 GMT+1 doctorjuliogeordio http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=73#comment196 I hope that the Lions are extremely successful on their tour of South Africa and will be supporting them throughout. My main concern is the lack of truly world-class players that we have. Nationality is not a major concern as I just want the best players playing, but I do believe we have just witnessed a Six Nations of relatively poor quality. This is to take nothing away from Ireland who fully deserved their victory, but England are a shadow of former sides and Wales have flattered to deceive. In previous Lions tours there were a number of players who would undoubtedly have made a World XV, but this time around I am not convinced. Will team spirit be sufficient to compensate for a lack of top players? Interested to know other peoples thoughts. Fri 24 Apr 2009 23:31:46 GMT+1 handofjohnson http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=73#comment195 far too much irish/welsh biast on this squad/selection panel/this blog......take the specs off this squad will get well and truely beat.....how would munster doin the super 14? not well!!! O'gara is shocking, jones is worse, quinlan is 'funny', o'callaghan is 'the captains best pal', s.williams too small AND out of form, byrnes will get injured on hard grounds, m.williams too slow for boks (and ginger),halfpenny half weight.....average irish/welsh national sides made to look better than they are by poor english sideto the fella who said get the video of the last tour to give us hope....you do know it's 2009??? Fri 24 Apr 2009 22:36:39 GMT+1 squeakybumtime http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=72#comment194 Can't believe how ignorant some of the viewpoints are on here, Ireland win one grand slam and the country lines the streets with parades and allsorts.....what would happen if you won the world cup!!I wonder how many of the 50-50 calls would have been different if the coaching panel wasn't so welsh biased, e.g. replace gatland with johnson and no doubt coueto 4 halfpenny, armittage 4 williams, croft 4 powell and so on....let's face it the magners league is a waste of space and so what oppurtunity has earls had to show his class apart from a game against the osprey's, playing well against ulster doesn't make you a world beaterAnd as for ROG, poor bloke, could be coming home in a body bag when spies/berger get their hands on him!!!!! Fri 24 Apr 2009 22:25:24 GMT+1 greyprop http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=72#comment193 Very little has been said about the selector(s), maybe because they are a first class group and if they think this is the team to win then who are we to argue with them, debate yes, no matter what your local bias may be.If you have not seen the video of the last lions tour to SA then invest in a copy and it may make you a little more confident. Fri 24 Apr 2009 20:13:40 GMT+1 Celticace http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=72#comment192 Oh yes and sincere comiserations to O'Leary, what a disaster for the man. Lets hope his recovery is swift and full. Fri 24 Apr 2009 19:50:57 GMT+1 Celticace http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=71#comment191 147Some of that view I agre with, rugby is a simple game, and Gavin Henson does these simple things extremely well (thats what makes him such an exceptional talent). Look at his howler again, eyes fixed firmly on the ball, not the oncoming player. That's the simple thing (basic rugby) he does well, but it is a game of rugby, these things happen. I would go further with my view on Ryan Jones, in that I think he should not, under any circumstances, have been left out of the squad, because he is such a class act. Fri 24 Apr 2009 19:48:51 GMT+1 tri2009 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=71#comment190 O'Leary was lucky to be selected in any event - playing scrum half behind a dominant forward pack is relatively easy. Blair or Cusiter are better options but I would go with the tryed and tested - Peel. Fri 24 Apr 2009 19:28:00 GMT+1 SuperPav9 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=71#comment189 @ 178if the 6 Nations played such an important part in the selection process, then why did Armitage not get a run, seeing as he scored more tries than any other full backCueto also had a good 6 Nations, yet he does not get a run??also, can we stop slagging off Fluety, sure he's from NZ and all that, but he's done his time here, and if he turns out to be a star on this tour, then you will be singing his praises, i guarantee itPS: sorry if this turned into a pro-England rant, but thats just the way that it goes sometimes isn't itWhatever happens, enjoy the spectacle Fri 24 Apr 2009 19:27:30 GMT+1 rockyfive http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=70#comment188 Thomas O Leary is out fractured ankle against scarlets, will Armitage go in replacement? Who will go Fri 24 Apr 2009 19:07:11 GMT+1 jkemp07 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=70#comment187 I think a few players have been left out who really should be there:Delon Armitage was one of England's stand out players during the 6N, in fact he was a stand out player in the 6N in general. Along the same lines, Tom Croft should be on the plane. I don't think there's any point in picking players based on what they CAN do, as would seem to be the case in the selection of shane williams. Players should be picked on what they ARE doing - it's all about current form for me. I also think that the scots have had it bad, probably because of the fact that the national team performs so poorly. I think that Strokosch would've been there if he hadn't gotten injured and I think that Ross Ford was desperately unlucky. At scrumhalf, I think they've got it pretty wrong except for the selection of Phillips. Blair AND Cusiter are better players than Ellis and O'Leary, and I actually rate Cusiter above Blair, and think that he would be playing for Scotland if it wasn't for that fact that Blair's captain. Also, I think that Cusiter's performances in the last Lion's tour was very impressive - maybe he should've been given the chance to emulate that?Anyways, whatever the selections are, I don't think Northern Hemisphere rugby can compete with the Southern Hemisphere yet, and I don't see the Lions being able to compete with the likes of Burger, Matfield etc. Fri 24 Apr 2009 18:27:17 GMT+1 england2003- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=69#comment186 ellfromgavenny- Am I going to need a restraining order ;) glad to see I got under your skin, just standing up for my english counterparts, course I'll be watching the lions....I think all this conjecture should end now, let's all support the boys out there (wherever their from) and we can all discuss it at the end of the tour, if we win I'll swallow my pride and say i was wrong, happy!!!?? Fri 24 Apr 2009 18:21:19 GMT+1 Ovalhopeful http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=69#comment185 Surprised that Cueto is not in there - Lions really need a clinical finisher Fri 24 Apr 2009 18:08:10 GMT+1 smartOLDBOY http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=69#comment184 Re aitchinTrouble is betting your house on 3-0 Boks only gets 2-3 (just checked down the road)!!!!... not really worth it and the odds are lengthening Fri 24 Apr 2009 17:37:06 GMT+1 aitchin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=68#comment183 my house is already bet on Ireland to win the world cup in new zealand Fri 24 Apr 2009 16:55:21 GMT+1 tri2009 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=68#comment182 I seem to recall that the Lions were rank outsiders in '97 but proved the SH (and NH) wrong! The coaching team is, I consider, appropriately balanced and there is a good mix of players that can play various styles. I simply hope that, whilst you need to match the Boks for physicality, you don't need to smash through them with the ball to beat them. If the test team contains enough players with enterprise then we will compete. The likes of Mears, Heaslip/Powell, Shane Williams and Kearney are good selections in this regard. I would have preferred more running players and less "beefcakes" though. Fri 24 Apr 2009 16:45:00 GMT+1 leinsterlegion http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=68#comment181 Oh and if it's such a sure thing to be 3-0 to the boks i suppose you've put your house on it aitchin! Fri 24 Apr 2009 16:42:53 GMT+1 leinsterlegion http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=67#comment180 I just read 166, kenboss11, well said! Fri 24 Apr 2009 16:41:04 GMT+1 aitchin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=67#comment179 Bodes well for the lions, all this british harmony. What team spirit you guys have. It's written all over that bitter little rant in post 166. Here's a thought for that person. Just how many times have Ireland beaten New Zealand? with all those great players down the years, how many times?This is the point I was trying to make earlier. There are some decent players in the NH, but you're not going to win a tour of SA with 'decent'. Several people have pointed out NZ's recent failings in the world cup, well are these people welsh or irish? because I don't see their teams lighting up that particular tournament regularly.It surprises me that people don't realise that it's going to be 3-0 to the boks. Fri 24 Apr 2009 16:30:04 GMT+1 smartOLDBOY http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=66#comment178 Question for the moderator - if this board is reactively moderated why are posts delayed in being shown whilst they are moderated. That is contrary to your definition...isn't it? Fri 24 Apr 2009 15:53:13 GMT+1 welshloiner http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=66#comment177 The number of players from each nation is down to how the 6N went. Ireland were better than England! Fri 24 Apr 2009 15:46:01 GMT+1 leinsterlegion http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=66#comment176 I beg any of the irish readers to stop trying to argue with the likes of England2003! They r stubborn, synical and bitter. They're trying to argue why there should be more english player? Why would there be, there are more irish players in the squad because the irish players are better atm! Fri 24 Apr 2009 15:23:52 GMT+1 ellfromgavenny http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=65#comment175 Hi greybelfastmikeI wouldn't waste your pressure pads in your fingers debating matters with england2003. Anything written will just be turned into him trying to justify too many Irish/welsh players in the squad and lack of English players touring.O'Gara is a quality player playing in a quality side, i think if he was that bad Munster would have looked for an overseas flyhalf themselves instead of sticking with him. As a welsh fan, i watched as we targeted him in the final match of the 6n yet he still had the last laugh.Lets just hope the small minority of England players touring don't have the same attitude as england2003 and we can unite as a team. Anyway, england2003 quoted in a previous blog that he wasn't going to watch any of the lions tour so why is he spending endless hours writing useless blogs?C'mon the Lions Fri 24 Apr 2009 14:24:27 GMT+1 greybelfastmike http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=65#comment174 England 2003Fitzgerald is in the lions party because: a)he is an outstanding young player b)who had a great 6N c)and a superb HC. He is adaptable, centre or wing, and has great defence. And into the bargain he may well be good looking....lucky himCueto is not in the lions cause these days he'd rather try and go thru someone than try to take him on the outside, or inside. Accept it there are others, and lo n behold who are NOT english, who are better than Cueto. O'Gara now: please accept the fact that this man is currently the best available choice to play 10 for the Lions. In the 'head 2 head' with Hook, he won the kicking duel and kicked ALL his points whilst your young welsh tyro missed more than 50% of his attempts and finally got the 'hook' from the bench. It was a high stakes-winner takes all game-and he came out a dismal 2nd best. Meanwhile ROG continues to do what he always does...yes plays to his and the teams strengths...isin't that what you want your play-maker to do. Please remember that he is the leading points scorer in the HC AND RAPIDLY APPROACHING Wilko's 6N record, he may even have taken that one. He must be doing something well thenYou also seem aggreived when I mentioned that Earls missed 6N selection because of injury. How lucky are we Irish then when we have someone who didn't make the 6N but have an OUTSTANDING HC, still make the lions and you guys don't have ANYONE...other than a KIWI. You must be sick. Just think if you had our backline and our forwards you may well have won the 'slamVanstoobing Fri 24 Apr 2009 14:05:21 GMT+1 VonStoobing http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=65#comment173 Lightbluepaddy - you clearly weren't watching Kearney in the 6N or when Leinster played Quins a couple of weekends ago. Picking his performances a while back v Wasps (abysmal this season) and Edinburgh (totally inconsistent, very poor in the game you refer to) doesn't really count as checking on his current form. Delon Armitage, Thom Evans and Mark Cueto however . . .As for Quinlan, this Irish pique defending a player with a sense of humour apparently comparable to other Irish chuckle merchants like Frank Carson or Jimmy Cricket is commendable, but Quinlan's tour will not be judged on how many yards he makes in his two midweek starts, but on how his one liners sound on the Living With Lions DVD.The Cooper-Hayes contenders remain Kearney, Fitzgerald, Ellis, O'Leary, Quinlan, Worsley and Rees. Quinlan can rise above this with some slapstick from the bench of course. Fri 24 Apr 2009 13:08:58 GMT+1 tri2009 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=64#comment172 VonstoobingAgreed, I would pick Thom Evans over Cueto! (who I consider is past his best and at his best only benefited at being on the end of great ball provided by a dominant England team.) Evans is more likely to fight his way out of a corner if we are up against it, much like Shane W and Rob Kearney. Fri 24 Apr 2009 13:08:01 GMT+1 VonStoobing http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=64#comment171 Thom Evans is the top try scorer in the Magners League, and this is playing for a Scottish side who only occasionally get the ball wide. He scored a hat trick v Bath, and played outstandingly away to Toulouse when Glasgow won.Cueto's track record is proven and dates back to before the last Lions tour.Luke Fitzgerald is Irish, and has blond hair and blue eyes. Fri 24 Apr 2009 12:58:07 GMT+1 tri2009 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=63#comment170 Always a tough task, to pick a squad to ensure you have the right balance on and off the field, build partnerships etc. Clearly McGeechan was the right choice to head up the coaching team. It the follows that he has hand picked his coaching team - it is inevitable that player selection will then be swayed by those coaches knowledge of players. Quinlan, whilst fortunate, is well know to the coaching team (and the captain) so they must feel he has plenty to offer.Shane Williams is going as he is unique - whilst not currently on form, he is one of the few world players that can break down tight defences, which he has proven countless times in recent years. I am not suprised that the English backs are not well represented as they lack invention and creativity, although Flutey bucks the trend. Blair rather than Ellis for me (Ellis is too one dimensional) The oddest omission for me is Ryan Jones. Whilst he has not had a great season, he has proven what he can do in a Lions shirt and I think he is a cool head that will be sorely missed on the tour. Finally, I hope that the inclusion of the likes of Worsely, Vickery, O'Callaghan and Sheridan does not mean that we will try and go toe to toe with SA. We need to play an expansive game and keep the ball out of contact as much as possible. Fri 24 Apr 2009 12:55:37 GMT+1 sirjuzza1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=63#comment169 Willrobinson 937 as well as cripple 62.Both not picking Gethin Jenkins, you guys probably thought the budget was good too!Nobody at all who writes any response will ever convince me that barring injury this guy will not be the first name down on the sheet after O'connell and that includes BOD. He would be in the SA team if he had swapped Beddau for BlomfonteinGreyingfast Mike (like it?) please give up on O'gara, great kicking to the lines from hand and getting a pack going forward, but will bottle place kicking underpressure and will in no way please the likes of Edwards with his nofence (slang for the absence of defence). Steve Jones is more solid generally and although not as good kicking from hand does have a good defence no matter what some of these misinformed bloggers say. Its true his kicking can sometimes falter, but he is probably slightly ahead of O'Gara.Did Ogara have a better game against Wales, yes but will he get in the test team, no. There will be no English/New Zealander in the starting xv unless injuries play their part.My biggest concerns are at scrum half where the likes of Ellis and Oleary are no more than average and the pass of Phillips takes 2 mins to wind up, he fails to drive a pack and is a poor decision maker. O leary will probably get the nod at present and yes that does mean mixing partnerships at half back. Remember Howley is there and will probably still do a better job than the other 3!! Fri 24 Apr 2009 12:52:28 GMT+1 england2003- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=63#comment168 smartOLDboy-I unfortunateley believe you are spot on.....I really suggest that people on here start watching super 14 and then they will realise the sheer superiority that the SH has at the moment....If you really think taking a 'battle hardened' (estate agent speak for old) back rower who can tell a few jokes will win the the test then think again....we live in an era of professional rugby, not the days of bonding over a yard of ale AKA keith wood and the crew of '97...we should be taking the best 15 professional sportsman/athletes, not the 15 guys who get on the best...this is the british 'amateur' mentallity that is holding NH rugby back......As for Ireland/Wales being the best NH teams I do agree however I believe this is less due to them, than to the tansitional phases that both england/france are going through...is this irish team really that different to that of 5 years ago???I'd say the key players are still the same, having said that I do believe there are talented english players whom for some reason have not had a shout a international rugby but I would have liked to see on the hard grounds e.g foden,simpson-daniel,strettle to name a few....greybelfastmike...I tried to be objective when discussing O'gara but you seem unable to do this- the term 'battle-hardened' again should never be used when talking about o'gara! only recently against england you saw the tears of this 'battle - hardened' fellow getting in the way of his ability to kick and generally play rugby, why, I don't know as he was only playing a mediocre english team at home! what'll he be like in SA.....close your eyes for a minute and imagine munster playing and doing all the things they do well, then look at the fly half and it's.....charlie hodgson!!!!what skill set has o'gara get (including defence/lack of) that hodgson hasn't , would hodgson playing for munster and o'gara playing for Sale have any impact on their teams success or lack of??O'gara is unimportant to monster as I think I'd do a decent job behind that pack!!As for your ignorant writing off, of lee mears' 88% accuracy rate for bath as 'it's only in the premiership' you may like to take a look at my previous post regarding the impact of the 3 regional teams you mentioned being in the semi-finals of the HC, ultimateley when a club side like bath or whoever come up against munster they are effectiveley playing against a top 6 internationally ranked side! the weakness of the magners league (which i watch on setanta and BBC wales) effectiveley means that any decent talent from ulster/connact/dragons/scarllets end up playing for munster/cardiff/ospreys/leinster.....during the 6 N's ospreys played connacht missing over 20 players and still won (connacht at full stregnth)...the credibility of the magners league has only been confounded by the desperate attempt to add interest by inviting the Italians to join (of course italy do have some top players-non of which play in italy)......also when the ospreys play munster how is that a head to head of hook/o'gara? hook can't influence the game if doesn't get the ball and I doubt the score would of been any diff if they had played on opposite teams....as for keith earls being selected if fit for the 6N's, for who???for O'driscoll??for kearney? for fitzgerald?? for Bowe?? someone would have been left out so by your logic one of the above would not be on the plane to SA..... Fri 24 Apr 2009 12:29:28 GMT+1 smartOLDBOY http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=62#comment167 TinoflyerI wonder how an SANZAC (I think they refered to themelves as) would fair on tour. The last time such an event happen (in my memory) it was a flop as the (admittedly amateur days when I played) fans wanted to match up against NZ, SA or AUS not an amalgum. At present the Lions ARE the only real test for the SH from the NH. This is a travesty imo for rugby when 4 nations get together to try and beat one nation. As for questioning my love of the game - it is exactly my love of the game which makes me question the validity of the Lions. Fri 24 Apr 2009 12:23:40 GMT+1 Tinoflyer http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/simonaustin/2009/04/lions_winners_and_losers.html?page=62#comment166 lightbluepaddy Fizgerald v Cueto Played Tries Opps Scored AgainstFitz 9 5 3Cueto 12 9 7 smartOLDBOYAs far as the world cups go, I was only refering to the fact that French were written off just as the Lions have been - these predictions can come back to bite.As far as tours go, at the minute, I would much prefer to see the Lions play once every 4 years than the standard summer/winter tours. Besides, it can only help the NH rugby.As for being bigger than the World Cup, one of the articles on Rugby365 (from the southerne hemisphere perspective) said because of the traditions, the Lions visiting (once every 12 years, is bigger than the World Cup) - I am sure others who think the Boks will trounce the lions will think differently, and those in love with the Game will agree.Either way, the stadiums are going to be sell outs, the coverage intense, and whatever side of the fence you are on - its going to be one amazing spectacle - at least the hype is. I hope the rugby matches it. Fri 24 Apr 2009 12:15:28 GMT+1