Lions 2013: I would have had more Welshmen - JPR Williams

AUSTRALIA V BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS, THIRD TEST

  • Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
  • Date: Saturday, 6 July
  • Kick-off: 11:00 BST (20:00 local)

Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website, updates on BBC Radio 5 live

The fact that a record-equalling 10 Wales players have been selected to start the British and Irish Lions' crucial final Test against Australia is a source of great national pride.

Head coach Warren Gatland has decided to stick with the players that he knows best from coaching Wales. They won the Grand Slam in 2012, beat England in the final game to win this year's Six Nations and made the 2011 World Cup semi-final.

Welsh Lions to roar in Sydney

Adam Jones
  • Leigh Halfpenny
  • Jonathan Davies
  • Jamie Roberts
  • George North
  • Mike Phillips
  • Richard Hibbard
  • Adam Jones
  • Alun Wyn Jones (captain)
  • Dan Lydiate
  • Toby Faletau

Gatland knows what they can do, but his decision does put a bit of pressure on him.

If they win he is a hero. If they lose, everyone will be criticising him for picking so many Welshmen. His decision also puts added pressure on the Welsh players to perform.

All selections are a gamble in many ways, but it is a little surprising that five changes were made for the second Test and another six for the Sydney Test. It is unusual to have so many changes as successful sides do not do that - they are settled.

Gatland's front-row selection looks solid, although I believe England lock Geoff Parling is quite fortunate to keep his place in the second row.

And in the back row I would have had yet another Welshman - flanker Justin Tipuric - in the starting line-up!

The Welsh players will also have the added motivation of the nation's poor recent record - they have lost eight on the bounce - against Australia.

Wales have been really unfortunate against the Wallabies of late though, and they could easily have won two of their three most recent encounters.

With those defeats in mind, they will be bursting for revenge.

I am surprised that Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll has been left out as he would have been the ideal captain. But Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones is playing very well, and he will certainly lead by example.

JPR Williams factfile

JPR Williams
  • Full name: John Peter Rhys Williams
  • Born: 2 March 1949
  • Position: Full-back
  • International record: Scored six tries in 55 appearances for Wales between 1969 and 1981
  • Lions record: Made eight consecutive Test appearances on the 1971 and 1974 tours to New Zealand and South Africa respectively, playing in five wins, one defeat and two draws
  • Lions moment: His drop-goal in the fourth Test secured a 14-14 draw with New Zealand that won the 1971 series 2-1 for the Lions

Provided Wales centre Jamie Roberts is fully fit when he returns at the weekend, he has the ability to go across the gain line.

An inability to do so was a real problem last Saturday, when the Lions made no breaks at all.

To beat the Australians, we have to have somebody who can put us on the front foot.

While our regional sides have been very poor in recent years, luckily the national team has been very consistent.

Remembering back to the 1971 and 1974 Lions teams, of which I was a part, we also had a strong Welsh influence.

You can really take the positivity from the national side to the Lions - that certainly happened in 1971 when we were series victors in New Zealand, and in 1974 when we finished unbeaten in South Africa.

Let's hope the same thing happens again for the Lions on Saturday.

The last two games have been decided by two-point and one-point margins, and it could go down to the last minute again.

It will be very tight, and I think Australia will start as slight favourites.