World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward has gone heavy on England and Wales players in his latest British and Irish Lions XV, with a very odd choice at No.8.
Despite hammering England in Dublin yesterday, just one Irishman makes the team – Tadhg Beirne. Scotland, who also blew England away, in a convincing Calcutta Cup thumping in Twickenham, have done little better, with just two picks. Stuart Hogg is selected at fullback, while Rory Sutherland makes the cut at loosehead, which Woodward calls a ‘bit of a punt’.
There’s no room for the likes of Finn Russell, Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander or Robbie Henshaw.
Woodward has picked openside specialist Justin Tipuric at No.8, in a bid to get both Tom Curry and Tipuric on the same team: “Tom Curry starts at seven, and I’m going to take a risk and start Justin Tipuric at No 8.” A selection that comes despite Taulupe Faletau’s excellent form and track record with the Lions at No.8.
Woodward has also gone for Alun Wyn Jones as his captain, noting: “Alun Wyn Jones may have missed out on the Grand Slam but the Wales captain is my choice to lead the Lions against South Africa in the summer.”
He has rewarded form on the wings, with places for Louis Rees-Zammit and Anthony Watson, while he has gone for the tried and test Jonathan Davies at 12 and the relatively inexperienced Henry Slade at 13.
He has picked Owen Farrell at 10, saying that to beat the Springboks, one of either Johnny Sexton or Farrell must start.
Woodward coached the most unsuccessful Lions side of the professional era – the 2005 tour to New Zealand. His selection was highly criticised at the time, as it was accused of relying on a number of aging and out-of-form England players who had peaked at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
The side were infamously ‘black-washed’ three-zero in the Test series and Woodward would never coach again.
Sir Clive Woodward’s Lions XV: Stuart Hogg, Louis Rees-Zammit, Henry Slade, Jonathan Davies, Anthony Watson, Owen Farrell, Gareth Davies, Rory Sutherland, Ken Owens, Kyle Sinckler, Alun Wyn Jones, Maro Itoje, Tadhg Beirne, Tom Curry, Justin Tipuric.
'Everyone got so carried away with that New Zealand [semi-final] game… Eddie needs to look in the mirror and that’s the only person you’ve got to blame.'https://t.co/bEJ9ozDwcl
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 20, 2021
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