The Lions squad to face the All Blacks is out!
A quick breakdown:
- Gatland hasn’t done a Gatland and picked his favourites. There’s no sign of George North, who’s probably still standing on the wing in Christchurch.
- The bench looks strong, filled with quality impact players such as Rhys Webb, Maro Itoje, and Kyle Sinkler. They will look to stifle the All Blacks onslaught in the last 20.
- Peter O’Mahony is quality and really deserves the captaincy.
- There are 0 Scottish Players.
- Alun Wyn Jones over Itoje possibly to provide more impact later in the game.
15. Liam Williams
Liam Williams played well against the Chiefs. Full-back is his best position, and he operates really well in the open field. My only concern would be that his defence can sometimes falter.
14. Anthony Watson
Quality player and well deserving of selection. Fast feet that should be able to keep up with the All Blacks and solid under high balls.
13. Jonathan Davies
Been a fairly solid centre all tour and is part of the best centre partnership that the Lions have. Lethal on the attack but can sometimes let men get outside him in defence.
12. Ben Te’o
Te’o has been sublime all tour and has consistently broken through the game line and performed a vital role in defence. The former rugby league man is the other half of the best centre partnership. He’s showed just how good he is after many had written him off as a mid-week player.
11. Elliot Daly
This one was a big surprise for me, a long time admirer of Daly. It’s a well-deserved start for him and clear that he showed Gatland what he is about against the Chiefs. He’s got pace, a huge boot, a great outside step, and a good rugby brain. It is great to see him get a chance to start against the All Blacks.
10. Owen Farrell
There were worries over his fitness which would rule him out for this game, but luckily he is back just in time. Hopefully, he hasn’t been rushed back too fast and is at his best. Farrell is among the best 10s in the world and it will be great to see him against the best team in the world. Faz brings placekicking, good defence, and an unparalleled ability to read the game.
Sexton will be waiting on the bench which provides a strong alternative if anything happens.
9. Connor Murray
Murray has the task of going toe to toe with Aaron Smith. This will really show who is the best scrum half in the world. Murray is fast aware and able to play the game at any tempo.
8. Taulupe Faletau
Good selection, Faletau provides a power game similar to his cousin Billy Vunipola. He does everything an 8 needs to do – carrying well, making hits, and breaking through the game line to get quick ball.
7. Sean O’Brien
SOB is a quality player. He has the opportunity to make this 7 shirt his and best the competition of the would be captain Sam Warburton.
6. Peter O’Mahony (c)
If Heaslip hadn’t got injured POM probably wouldn’t even be in the touring squad. He has really gone out there and shown Gatland what a great player and leader he is. There is no doubt that he has earned this captaincy.
5. Geroge Kruis
He will be missing his Saracen mate Itoje, but Kruis will surely go out and perform well. The set piece is where Kruis really shines, which provides a platform to attack from – he’s also quite handy in the loose.
4. Alun Wyn Jones
Standard Gats selection. Provides consistency and leadership although the same can be said for Itoje, who brings athleticism on top of this.
3. Tadhg Furlong
Quality scrummager, and is a barrel. Expect a very strong set piece.
2. Jaime George
Great to see George making the starting XV. He is quality in the set piece and normally pops up all around the field. Thinks he can kick too…
1. Mako Vunipola
One of the best looseheads in the world. Carries really well, and has the hands of a 10. Great to see him start and not at all surprising.
16. Ken Owens 17. Jack McGrath 18. Kyle Sinkler 19. Maro Itoje 20. Sam Warburton 21. Rhys Webb 22. Johnny Sexton 23. Leigh Halfpenny