Lions 2013: back-row competition 'frightening' - Scott Quinnell

Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau and Justin Tipuric

Former Wales number eight Scott Quinnell says he does not envy back-row players awaiting news of British and Irish Lions selection on Tuesday.

Lions coach Warren Gatland is set to name a 37-man squad for the three-Test Tour of Australia in June.

Quinnell, who played three Tests for the Lions as they lost 2-1 to Australia in 2001, says competition for back-row places is intense.

"I wouldn't like to be a back-rower sitting at home now," said Quinnell.

"You would be recounting every time you missed a tackle - 'Was there a line-out I could have won?' And all these doubts that start coming through the players' minds.

"I'm certainly glad I'm on the other side of the camera."

But he says he thinks Gatland's squad will have the ability to be the first Lions touring party to win a series since victory over South Africa in 1997.

"The great thing for this group of players is that they can make history," said the ex-Scarlet, who won 52 Wales caps and also played rugby league for Wigan and Wales.

"Everybody is saying it's going to be one of the strongest [Lions] squads and when you look at it on paper it certainly does look like that."

He says one of the strengths will be the ability in the back-row, with players from all four home unions challenging for selection.

He highlights England's Tom Croft and Ben Morgan, Irishmen Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip, Wales' Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau, and Scotland's John Beattie and Kelly Brown as underlining the strength in depth available to Gatland.

"Croft has come back from injury. Sean O'Brien - he brings something totally different to the back-row. Faletau had been absolutely superb.

"Dan Lydiate has come back to form and we know that Warren Gatland likes Dan Lydiate and the way he plays the game," said Quinnell.

"Beattie and Brown have played well for Scotland. Ben Morgan had a great start to his international career at eight. Heaslip was brilliant in '09.

"A couple of those guys aren't going to make it. It's frightening."

There has been a lot of debate about the open-side berth for the Test matches, with Wales' Sam Warburton and England's Chris Robshaw - both candidates to be Lions captain - and Justin Tipuric all being mentioned as candidates for a starting place.

But Quinnell believes Tipuric is best placed if Gatland wants a a traditional number seven on the fast grounds in Australia.

"Tipuric is the genuinely out-and-out open-side," insisted Quinnell.

"Sam Warburton will come in there if you want someone more robust and the likes of Robshaw will come into it as well.

"But if you want an out-and-out seven then you have to go for Tipuric."

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