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'I had him and scrubbed him out': Shock Lions XV calls as Rugby Pod co-hosts agree on only nine picks

By Liam Heagney

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The latest episode of The Rugby Pod has seen co-hosts Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton agree on the identity of nine players who should be in the Lions XV to play the Springboks following the recent completion of the Guinness Six Nations, but the half-dozen differences in their respective selections are startling.

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Whereas ex-England out-half Goode has gone for Wales’ title-winning skipper Alun Wyn Jones to captain a Lions XV containing Dan Biggar at out-half and George North on the wing, ex-Scotland lock Hamilton has omitted Jones and instead picked Ireland’s Iain Henderson to partner Maro Itoje at lock.  

Hamilton caused further consternation with co-host Goode by picking Jamie George at hooker and going out on a limb by nominating Owen Farrell, another of his old Saracens pals, to not only be the starting No10 but to also captain the Lions XV versus the Springboks. 

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How will the Springboks prepare for the upcoming Lions tour having not played since November 2019?
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How will the Springboks prepare for the upcoming Lions tour having not played since November 2019?

It was a controversial choice given how Farrell played poorly throughout a championship where he skippered England to a worst-ever fifth-place finish, but Hamilton stuck to his guns and refused to budge despite Goode’s bemusement. 

The Lions’ Test series versus the Springboks is set to begin on July 24 in Johannesburg and the country by country breakdown of the respective XVs suggested on The Rugby Pod read Wales 7, Ireland 4, Scotland 3 and England 1 for Goode while Hamilton’s consisted of 5 Scotland, 4 Ireland, 3 Wales and 3 England.    

RugbyPass has reviewed the seven-minute-long selection process, highlighting the reasons why Goode opted for his Wales dominated XV and why Hamilton came up with a Scottish influenced pick. Here is how it all unfolded on the latest Rugby Pod, starting with their selections at loosehead:  

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AG: Wyn Jones.

JH: Have you gone for Wyn Jones? I tweeted that after week two and people were sending me laughing emojis. I don’t know whether it was laughing or crying. 

AG: Hooker, Ken Owens. 

JH: Jamie George. 

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AG: Not on form, you’re picking him because he is your mate.

JH: Mine’s a bit of everything, mine’s not just form. 

AG: I’m going on form. I’m going on Lions XV if you are picking a Test match to start tomorrow. 

JH: I am going off the back of what we have seen knowing that Jamie has got a big game against Ampthill coming up and he can play his way into the team.   

AG: I’m just saying you picked your mate. Carry on.  

JH: A hot-stepper at tighthead, Tadhg Furlong. Easy.

AG: An easy decision. 

JH: These are the interesting ones, the back five are interesting. Will you go first? 

AG: Maro Itoje. 

JH: I have put Maro Itoje in there but my other lock is Iain Henderson. 

AG: Really?

JH: That’s quite a ballsy call but the work he got through and the physicality that he produces every game, if he is fit he is in.  

AG: My other second row, it was a close call between the old school and the new school, the new school being James Ryan but I have just got to go with the skips, Alun Wyn Jones. He is my skipper. Alun Wyn Jones, give him the armband, second row, captain of the winning Six Nations team in Wales, performed beyond expectations of most people. He has got it in his locker, he knows what the Lions is, knows how to win in a Lions jersey. 

JH: I had him and scrubbed him out because that is what is in me. 

AG: Horrible.

JH: That is what is in me. I actually messaged him on Instagram when I was drunk on Friday saying congratulations, you need to put more pictures up. Didn’t reply but he put a picture up so he must have seen it. No6 I have gone for a friend of the show, Tadhg Beirne. 

AG: Exactly, same here. Tadhg Beirne down at six. At No7, Hamish Watson.

JH: Yes sir, me too! 

AG: You have to. He’s English, he came through the Leicester academy, we have sent him off to Scotland, he is playing unbelievably well with the best mullet you have ever seen in your life. It was a close call between him and Tom Curry and also (Justin) Tipuric and loads others but I just went with Hamish Watson on form. 

JH: There is a few of them, Sam Underhill as well, but we are not talking about the outsiders at the minute. We are talking about the insiders. 

AG: No8 Jim, who have you got? 

JH: I found this one difficult and this is more on form and a big-game player and because I love Wales, Taulupe Faletau. 

AG: Yes, yes. 

JH: Look at us, look at us…

AG: I had Sam Simmonds written next to him but then I can’t pick him to start a Lions Test match because he hasn’t played in the Six Nations so that was my thought process but I have gone Toby Faletau as well. 

JH: Here we go then, I think this could look very different because I am an expert on the backs.

AG: You are, Jim. Scrum-half Conor Murray. 

JH: Ali Price. I’d say Conor Murray because of his box-kicks, I have never seen him get charged down. Ali Price is physical, quick at the base, he has got a kicking game. 

AG: He got charged down quite a few times by Maro and (Eben) Etzebeth would be all over him like a rash. That is why I have gone for Conor Murray with experience, and you will understand why I have gone for Conor Murray in a minute. It’s your turn, Jim. 

JH: I have gone Faz (Owen Farrell), as captain. 

AG: Really? On form, or is it because his dad (Andy Farrell) is going to be a coach?  

JH: Just because I might be working with the Lions so I want to make sure I am onside with everyone that I have bad mouthed. I just think it’s because Alun Wyn Jones isn’t captain, that’s why. Owen Farrell, regardless of his performances and question marks, I don’t think there is anyone else. I say that with the utmost respect. He is a big Test match player. Johnny Sexton was close. Finn (Russell) hasn’t done enough for me, he is going to be on the bench. Deep down there is a love for Owen Farrell whether he feels that or not. I feel it, Owen. I feel it from you, mate, and I have gone for you as captain. 

AG: Fly-half, I really wanted to go Finn, I really did, but I have gone Dan Biggar. 

JH: I can agree, I can nod to that.  

AG: I don’t think you can pick Owen Farrell on any form at all. If we’re going Test match animals, this is what Eddie Jones did, he picked what he thought was the right play whether they are playing well, in form, out of form, whatever, and that got England fifth place and our worst ever Six Nations. I couldn’t pick Owen Farrell because of that. Sexton got knocked out again at the weekend. I thought about going Sexton, but I have gone for Biggar at 10 and we’re not naming our bench but I would definitely go Finn Russell on the bench. 

JH: Controversial unless you have gone for Faz at 12? 

AG: Nope. My centre pairing, and again you can’t put someone like Manu Tuilagi in as he has not played yet, on form and on what we are going to face, I am going Robbie Henshaw and Jonathan Davies.

JH: Oh, so close. I have gone Robbie Henshaw and Chris Harris. 

AG: I like Chris Harris, played with him at Newcastle. 

JH: He’s big, he is physical… I sound horrible, Jonathan Davies, how fit is he? Chris Harris, I’ll stick to my guns. 

AG: Wingers, Jim? 

JH: I realised when I was putting these down that maybe I don’t know much about back play because I desperately wanted to put Keith Earls in because of how he has played but I didn’t. I went for Duhan van der Merwe and Liam Williams. 

AG: No Louis Rees-Zammit?

JH: He’s on the bench? He’s coming on, he’s skinning Cheslin Kolbe when Ches has got a sore ankle.

AG: I have gone George North and Duhan van der Merwe. North was close to going in the centres with Henshaw but I love Jonathan Davies. He is a great player. 

JH: And shall we just say the 15 together? 

AG: It’s obvious, isn’t it, Stuart Hogg. 

JH: Hogg, my old lid. 

ANDY GOODE’S LIONS TEST XV
15. Stuart Hogg; 14. George North, 13. Jonathan Davies, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Duhan van der Merwe; 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Conor Murray; 1. Wyn Jones, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 6. Tadhg Beirne, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Taulupe Faletau.

JIM HAMILTON’S LIONS TEST XV
15. Stuart Hogg; 14. Liam Williams, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Duhan van der Merwe; 10. Owen Farrell (capt), 9. Ali Price; 1. Wyn Jones, 2. Jamie George, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Iain Henderson, 6. Tadhg Beirne, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Taulupe Faletau.

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'I had him and scrubbed him out': Shock Lions XV calls as Rugby Pod co-hosts agree on only nine picks

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