Jeremy Guscott Q&A: The Lions, Jonny Wilkinson, Warren Gatland

 

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Why Jonny Wilkinson won't make the Lions squad

- If he would have Sam Warburton as captain

- Who his 'wildcard' pick would be

- How much reputation counts against form

- What his 37-man Lions squad would be

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.

With Jonny Wilkinson awarded man of the match in Toulon's Heineken Cup semi-final triumph over Saracens, who would you select as the fly-halves for the Lions? JamesB

Hi JamesB, I would go for Ireland's Sexton and Wales' James Hook. In my opinion Sexton is the number one stand-off playing for any of the home unions at the moment. It is thought that Wilkinson won't go because he would only be able to join up with the squad late because of his club commitments with Toulon - Lions boss Warren Gatland has suggested he won't take anyone not available for the whole tour. 

I've gone for Hook instead of England incumbent Owen Farrell because he offers a broader range of options - Farrell isn't a threat with ball in hand whereas Hook is. However, if Gatland takes three 10s then Farrell will probably go.

If Wilkinson was available to leave with the touring party at the same time as everyone else I would take him. But whether people like it or not, with the Lions you can't start making concessions for certain people because it's divisive, no matter who the player is.

Is England captain Chris Robshaw even good enough to tour with the Lions? Yes, he does the basics well, but he doesn't have a significant impact on the pitch with his carries and his defence is average, so how can he tour? All other the other back rowers have something special to offer such as Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien's carrying or Wales blind-side Dan Lydiate's defence. Jordan E Davies

Hi Jordan E Davies, Robshaw has a great all round game and his defence is normally very good. However, I don't think he'll make the tour both because of his relative inexperience at this level and because in my opinion his rivals - as you say - add more than just doing the basics well.

Brian O'Driscoll on the attack for Leinster against Biarritz

Brian O'Driscoll is an Irish sporting icon and respected throughout the rugby world

Hi Jerry, I saw in your article in the week you hinted that Brian O'Driscoll should lead the Lions and a reason for that is because people know who he is globally. Please could you explain why that should have an impact on the captaincy selection over Sam Warburton? Will13

Hi Will13, it's my opinion that O'Driscoll has a higher standing and is respected more amongst his peers than Warburton. If I go by the bookies then Warburton is rubber stamped as captain, it's just my view that to make him captain when he has not toured with the Lions before is the wrong call.

Add in the fact that, if the rumours are true he didn't want the Wales captaincy after returning from injury during the Six Nations, and I don't think he's ready. I think Warburton at his best is a very good player, world class in fact, but I think it would weigh heavily on his mind to captain the Lions. He's better at the moment just playing without the thought of being captain being a burden to him.

Jerry, I have watched former England prop Andrew Sheridan very closely this season. On Sunday he did not take a single backwards step in the scrum as Toulon beat Saracens, and he has also consistently kept Wales loose-head Gethin Jenkins out of the starting XV. Why is Jenkins touted as a definite Lion and potential starter but not Sheridan? Garrod13

Hi Garrod13, good question. It's simply Gatland's personal choice and he knows Jenkins much better than Sheridan. In addition, Jenkins had a very good Six Nations and that might be the difference because Sheridan hasn't been playing international rugby since his move to France. There is a big step from Heineken Cup to international level and Sheridan isn't up to speed.

Jerry, will the injured players such as Ireland wing Tommy Bowe, Scotland lock Richie Gray and Wales flanker Lydiate be at a disadvantage come the Lions squad announcement on Tuesday? Or will their reputations keep them as tourists? Rugbyman

Hi Rugbyman, reputations are high on Gatland's selection agenda and if established players are in reasonably good form, I think he would pick someone with a reputation before a newbie playing well. I would select Tommy Bowe and Richie Gray, provided he is fully recovered from his injury, but I'm 50-50 on Lydiate. However, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Gatland takes him because again he knows him so well.

Jerry, how many performances over this weekend would have swayed Lions boss Warren Gatland on any 50-50 calls? Either by people either finally putting their hand up (such as Leinster duo Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney), or by not doing as well as expected? BHHooker

BHHooker, Kearney makes my squad all day long, never mind because of his performance at the weekend. Heaslip didn't make the cut for me because his form in the Six Nations was well below his best, but he put in a fine display at the weekend so he will have done himself some good.

The Ireland captain and number eight has toured before and has talent - Gatland will have that in his mind and will probably select him. Personally I would take England's Ben Morgan, because he's the best attacking eight in the home unions, and Wales' Toby Faletau because he consistently plays well.

Hi Jerry, there are usually a few wildcards on the Lions tour. Do you think there'll be many on this one and if so who do you think could be in contention? Chris Woosnam

Hi Chris, I seriously don't think there will be any wildcards, although if Gloucester and England inside-centre Billy Twelvetrees is considered a wildcard then he's it, because he makes my Lions squad.

John Barclay on the attack in Scotland's 9-6 win over the Wallabies in Australia in 2012

John Barclay was on the flank for Scotland when they beat the Wallabies in Australia in 2012

The Lions back row debate is perhaps the most contentious area of selection. I think the Lions need an out-and-out open-side. Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton are most people's picks, but John Barclay is back to his best for Glasgow. Has he any chance? Who are your eight back rowers? Scott Hastings

Hi Scott, I don't think Barclay has a chance because like you say there is so much competition from current internationals. I would take Tipuric, Warburton, Tom Wood, Tom Croft, O'Brien, Toby Faletau and Ben Morgan. But you could go for Kelly Brown, Peter O'Mahony, Dan Lydiate, Jamie Heaslip and more, and still have a very good back row.

JG, do you think it's hypocritical that English rugby fans are complaining about a potential Welsh majority, despite being the form nation, especially considering England in the past have enjoyed the greatest share of players? On this comments section it's already been described as a Welsh tour, should we refer to the 2005 debacle as an English tour then? Interested to hear your thoughts. Andrew Morgan

Wales will have the majority on this tour because they deserve to. I look at it like this: how many other players from England, Scotland and Ireland would get into their team? Not that many.

Hi Jerry, surely after that fine performance for Leinster in the Amlin Challenge Cup win over Biarritz, Ian Madigan must have given himself a big chance at getting on the plane for the Lions - he can obviously be great cover. If the squad is picked with form in mind surely he must be picked. Ulster man

Hi Ulster man, it's not his time, he's a great talent but there are better players currently playing international rugby.

Hi Jerry, what wingers would you take on the Lions tour? Most people would say George North is a certainty, but not much has been mentioned of Scotland's Sean Maitland. For me he must go, he has been in good form for Glasgow, and he is used to playing open expansive rugby, plus he has the experience of playing against most of the Aussie players in the Super XV last season. Dlloyd

Hi Dlloyd, check out my selection below - Maitland makes my squad.

Jerry, what are your thoughts on the French-based potential Lions. There will be injuries on the tour so what is the difference between a Toulon (for example) player turning up late and a player joining the squad as a replacement through injury? Al4One

Hi Al4One, the Lions tours are all about being together right from the start and if you can't get released then it's doubtful you will go. All the players who decided to play in France knew the risk they took in not getting selected because they play abroad.

Jerry's 37-man Lions squad to tour Australia

This is Jerry's personal view on who should go to Australia - not necessarily who he thinks Gatland will take.

Props

Cian Healy, Ryan Grant, Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Dan Cole

Hookers

Rory Best, Richard Hibbard, Ken Owens

Locks

Alun-Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell, Joe Launchbury, Ian Evans, Richie Gray

Flankers

Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton, Tom Wood, Sean O'Brien, Tom Croft

Number eights

Toby Faletau, Ben Morgan

Scrum-halves

Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs, Danny Care

Fly-halves

Johnny Sexton, James Hook

Centres

Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Manu Tuilagi, Brian O'Driscoll, Billy Twelvetrees

Wingers

George North, Tommy Bowe, Simon Zebo, Sean Maitland, Alex Cuthbert

Full-backs

Leigh Halfpenny, Rob Kearney