'Everyone's mentioning selection as if it's a negative for players'
Tom Curry has taken issue with the perception that one player playing well for the Lions is possibly seen as a negative for another player trying to gain selection in that position. The England back-rower is the last of the 37 Lions originals to assemble in Jersey to get a chance to play when he lines out at openside against the Sharks on Wednesday.
Warren Gatland has so far gone with starting back rows consisting of Tadhg Beirne, Justin Tipuric and Jack Conan against Japan, with Taulupe Faletau in reserve, and Courtney Lawes, Hamish Watson and Faletau in the win over Sigma Lions, with Sam Simmonds providing cover.
Although Tipuric’s tour was ended by injury at Murrayfield, some other back-rowers have seriously impressed and it leaves Curry with it all to do to make a good first impression when he debuts for the Lions after a pectoral muscle injury kept him out of selection for the opening matches.
Curry will start in an intriguing Lions back row made up of Simmonds and Josh Navidi, the blindside summoned to tour in place of the stricken Tipuric. The narrative is that the Sale flanker has much ground to regain but he doesn’t go along with this negative slant, insisting it has been great for the Lions to see rival back-rowers playing so well on a tour that was hit by the news on Tuesday evening that next Saturday’s match versus the Bulls was off.
“Everyone is mentioning selection as if it is a negative thing for the players but it’s not. It’s brilliant to see Tadhg go well, it’s brilliant Courtney and Hamish at the weekend because it shows we are doing something right as a group.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 6, 2021
“Everybody who has played has played well and that is the brilliant thing about his side at the minute, the competition. I can’t wait to get my opportunity, to get stuck in and love it. Especially with Sam and Navidi, they are both unbelievable players… playing with those two is going to be really exciting. Sam, especially in attack, and then having Navidi around the breakdown defensively, it’s a really exciting combination and one that I have been excited to learn off.”
Curry has already been learning off Navidi in other ways, the Welsh forward who has been nicknamed ‘Navichi’ taking him and Tadhg Furlong under his wing to learn h0w to DJ. “Tadhg and I are coming along nicely. ‘Navichi’ is our mentor. He is a part-time DJ and we are trying to learn as much as possible from him.”
The 23-year-old, who has 33 England caps, had his availability for Lions selection delayed after his Sale season ended with an 80-minute run in the Gallagher Premiership semi-final loss to Exeter and his pec injury had him slightly worried.
“Yeah, a little bit. I got a little bit excited on bench press but it is what it is. It’s probably a good thing to put me back in check but it’s all good, ready to go,” he assured before touching on the presence of five colleagues from Sale – Faf de Klerk, Lood de Jager, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jean-Luc du Preez and Dan du Preez – being part of the Springboks squad and how he felt last Sunday at seeing twin brother Ben come off the Twickenham bench to make his England debut.
“I spoke a bit to Jean-Luc du Preez, just seeing how he is. Mostly talking about the altitude, to be honest. I don’t think he is a fan either,” he said about the Sale Bokke connection before switching to family matters.
“It saves my parents a lot of travelling. They are a bit happy with that. Pretty gutted I wasn’t able to see it and congratulate him [Ben] but watching it on the TV he went pretty well. Really excited and he will hopefully be able to push on for more things. There isn’t too much (contact), just good luck, how’s camp sort of thing. I know he is enjoying it and that is what matters really.”
In @BenKay5 first Lions column for @RugbyPass he says Courtney Lawes has put his hand up for a Test start and pinpoints the defensive frailties that need tightening up ahead of the Sharks game. https://t.co/0pOYd6kq52
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 5, 2021
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