Jeremy Guscott Q&A: The Lions, Richard Hill & Gareth Steenson

 

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Which scrum-halves he thinks should tour with the Lions

- What mind-set it takes to be a Lions player

- His view on the Lions chances of Christian Wade and Jonny May

- Richard Hill's departure as Worcester boss

- Whether Ireland will turn to Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson

Jerry answers questions posted on the website at the start of every week - entries are now closed for this Q&A. This week's answers appear below.

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Owen Farrell kicks penalties, tackles well and is a good tactical kicker, but just doesn't make enough breaks to be a real threat with the ball in hand

Hello Jerry, we have just experienced a fantastic weekend of rugby, but more importantly two master-class performances from England scrum-halves Ben Youngs and Danny Care. Both seem to be playing fantastic rugby and I think both would excel on the firm ground down under on this summer's Lions tour.

I would go with Care as he seems sharper but would you take them both if you were Lions boss Warren Gatland, and if so who would be your first choice? BigFatOlly

Hi BigFatOlly, that's a toughie, as you say they are both playing well and have very similar qualities. Personally I would go with Leicester's Youngs, he has a better box kick than Care and that helps any team's exit strategy, which is so important.

Harlequins nine Care loves to attack around the fringes and his speed in the last 30 minutes of games really exposes tired defenders. Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips was outstanding during the Six Nations, he will go along with Youngs, and then it's between Care and Scotland's Greig Laidlaw - we'll find out which trio makes it when the squad is announced on Tuesday, 30 April.

As a successful ex-Lion yourself what do you consider to be the top three qualities that determine whether or not a player has the X-factor for Lions selection? Cheers. Schoolies

Hi Schoolies, as a player you have to understand what the Lions is about and what it takes to win internationals with people you hardly know. A player shouldn't go with any expectations other than to look, listen, learn, and embrace the ethos of the group.

It's about the team and what as an individual you can add to the squad, what you can give that makes the difference to make the tour successful. It's all about giving yourself to the cause.

With Saracens playing Toulon at the weekend, what do you make of the battle between the current England players and the old guard, especially between Owen Farrell and Jonny Wilkinson with a Lions place at stake? smithh77

Hi smithh77, Farrell has it all to do. We know what Wilkinson can do but I'm not sure what more Farrell is capable of producing, other than what he already does well. Farrell kicks penalties, tackles well and is a good tactical kicker, but he just doesn't make enough breaks to be a real threat with the ball in hand - Wilkinson is the same type of player.

You know what you get from both of them, their performances on Sunday will depend so much on how their respective packs play at Twickenham.

Leicester and England blind-side flanker

The pace of Croft, here scoring against Bath, could be a real threat in Australia

Hi Jerry, is Leicester and England flanker Tom Croft playing his way into Lions squad contention? His pace and attacking instincts seem perfect for the hard, running pitches of Australia to me. Jack.

Hi Jack, there are going to be quite a few disappointed players who are very close to selection but will be left out by Gatland - and Croft could be one.

Croft has the advantage of being fresh and he's toured before, plus he's playing well, but there is a massive amount of competition in all the flanker positions. Personally I would take him because of his exceptional speed, that's his X-factor, no other blind-side is as quick.

Hi Jerry, I watched Wasps winger Christian Wade and Gloucester counterpart Jonny May this weekend and they both played well. However, although Wade is better regarded I think May has a better overall game and could still make the Lions, do you agree?

Also would you say Ben Morgan is on the Lions plane after his try scoring return? Swinglow

Hi Swinglow, if you put Wade and May up against the current home union international wingers there's a few differences, namely their lack of experience of playing in the big games and for teams that regularly play European rugby.

However, if you put Wade or May in the Test teams, with better players around them, I believe they would do the business. Are these two better than Lions contenders George North, Alex Cuthbert, Chris Ashton, Tim Visser, Tommy Bowe, Sean Maitland and Craig Gilroy? In some cases, arguably yes. I agree that May has the better all-round game but Wade is more devastating when running with the ball because of his speed.

Gloucester and England man Ben Morgan is the best ball carrying number eight in the UK and Ireland, Wales' Toby Faletau is the best defender and Ireland's Jamie Heaslip has the experience but not the current form. Morgan's X-factor is he beats defenders with greater regularity than the others, and I would take him.

Jerry, watching the Australian Super Rugby derby between Queensland Reds and the ACT Brumbies on Saturday morning I was astonished by the pace of the contest from 1-15. It really was like watching the Premiership on fast forward.

Lots of talk has revolved around Gatland picking a big pack against the Wallabies to belt them into submission but will a big pack last at that pace? How does Gatland get the right balance? Will

Hi Will, the game down under is played in the main in better conditions and with a different mind set because of no relegation. The game here gets close to being as dynamic in September and also during the last few games of the season, when the conditions are more suited to playing that style.

Gatland will pick a Test pack that he feels will dominate the Aussies, not one to try and play them at their own game, and I believe that's the right way to go. It will have a large front five and should have an out and out seven.

Ex-Worcester Richard Hill

Hill paid the price for Worcester's failure to challenge for a place in Europe

Hi Jerry, regarding Worcester, although I'm pleased Dean Ryan is now in place as the new boss, do you think it was a rational decision to sack Richard Hill considering how many players have come in/gone out?

I can't help but feel he deserved one more season with the players he wanted to move us forward. Or do you think it is because there is a real fear we'll go down next season if we don't change things? George Painter

Hi George, the reasons for letting Hill go seem to be reasonable from a Warriors perspective. Those of us that aren't privy to what is said behind closed doors between the respective parties don't have all the information to make an informed decision.

It would look like Hill didn't live up to the expectations of the decision makers and investors at Worcester. I'm not quite sure what they were expecting this season with their squad, you would only put them eighth at best.

Hi Jerry, Glasgow played some wonderful rugby on Friday night and players such as prop Ryan Grant and wing Sean Maitland have surely played themselves into Lions contention. Do you think the exciting brand of rugby Glasgow are playing can be transferred to the Scottish national side? Je ne sais quoi

Hi Je ne sais quoi, well done Glasgow - it's good for Scottish rugby they are doing the business. Both Grant and Maitland will either be going with the Lions, or on the reserves list.

The Scotland national team are redefining themselves after the Andy Robinson era and understanding what it takes to win internationals with new coaches, but Scotland can't expand their game too quickly, they've already tried that and it didn't work out.

Hi Jerry, I was wondering if Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson, providing he keeps playing with the form he has shown this season from the kicking tee and in open play (particularly in the win away to Wasps), deserves a look from Irish selectors for their tour this summer?

He can't be far behind Ulster's Paddy Jackson and Leinster's Ian Madigan in form at the moment. Having ousted Ignacio Mieres for the Chiefs, and with his nerve in pressure situations, he surely has put a hand up. Your thoughts? VeejayHF

Hi VeejayHF, as long as Steenson is playing in the English Premiership he will have to be so much better than Jackson and Madigan, because Ireland are reluctant to pick players for their national team who are playing outside the four Irish provinces.

Hi Jerry, this sunny weekend we saw a blizzard of tries in the Premiership, however we don't always see that kind of exciting rugby. This is often blamed on the poor weather conditions in this country. They can't be escaped, so what would be your solution to provide exciting rugby every weekend? Feargus

Hi Feargus, play summer rugby, or have no relegation, are the only answers.