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'I redeclare my James Ryan outrage' - Beard was Gatland's preference all along

By Ian Cameron

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James Ryan’s recovery from an abductor injury to captain Ireland against Japan on the weekend suggests that Warren Gatland’s decision to call up Adam Beard to replace injured British and Irish Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones was a straight selection call.


Reports of Ryan’s injury [later confirmed by the IRFU] shortly after Beard’s call-up dampened down online outrage in Ireland at the decision to call up Beard. Despite Ryan’s mediocre form of late, many believed the Leinster second row was still the first cab off the rank should Gatland suffer an engine room difficulties, with few outside of Wales predicting that the giant Osprey’s forward would be summoned to South Africa instead.

But so it was.

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News that Ryan is not only fit to play, but that he will start as captain for Ireland suggests that his abductor injury was unlikely to have merited a non-selection by Gatland on its own merits. The 5-day turnaround didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter.

“I now redeclare my James Ryan outrage,” wrote well-known Irish journalist Rúaidhrí O’Connor.

He wasn’t the only one surprised.


“I won’t lie, I’m a bit surprised to see James Ryan starting considering five days ago he was an injury concern for the Lions. I imagine it’s more Gatland’s style of play doesn’t suit Ryan’s game. There’s gonna be plenty of shouting from some corners,” wrote The Loose Head.

“Great to see James Ryan captaining Ireland,” wrote another. “The reports last week were that he didnt replace AWJ in the lions squad because of injury. So was he not asked or did he turn it down?”


Former Leinster prop Jamie Hagan posted stats comparing Beard’s and Ryan’s performances from a statistical point of view in both the PRO14 and the Rainbow Cup. They both favoured the Leinsterman significantly.

“So Johnny Hill and Adam Beard are better than James Ryan , maybe your co-worker was correct,” said another poster, referencing Neil Francis infamously likening Gatland to a tub of margerine.


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