5 Talking Points Following Warren Gatland’s Lions Team Announcement
Time to get down to business.
Warren Gatland named his side for this weekend’s clash against the Maori All Blacks early this morning. The Lions head coach, as expected, has named a side that most reckon is very close to what he will put out against the All Blacks next week.
The good news is he’s surprised us with a few selections that we wanted, but weren’t expecting. Sam Warburton for example needed to be dropped, but we weren’t sure Gatland would actually do it. Thankfully he has and we get another chance to look at the awesome back-row that took the field against the Crusaders.
Here are five talking points.
Peter O’Mahony is Lions captain.
I never thought I’d be writing those words, but man does it feel good. A born leader, the Munster captain proved his worth against the Crusaders in an excellent performance. The Cork native is the perfect man for the job, and could potentially captain the Lions in the Tests.
Another shock move. It’s the correct one, but we didn’t expect Gatland to do it. O’Brien was immense agains the Crusaders, while Warburton is way off the mark. Another good performance from the Irishman and we could see the captain dropped for the Tests. Gatland will be left with no choice.
Murray & Sexton start together.
Owen Farrell was originally named on the bench, but was forced to withdraw this morning with a quad problem. This is the first time we’ve seen the Irish pair start together on this tour and it could be huge. Sexton hasn’t been firing on all cylinders, and if Farrell doesn’t make the Test, the Irishman will be needed to step up. Even if Farrell does make it, it would be great for Sexton to give him a headache that might make him start the duo at 10/12.
Itoje & Kruis finally together.
Alun Wyn Jones hasn’t impressed, while Kruis was immense agains the Crusaders. We haven’t seen enough of Itoje, so you’d imagine it’ll be a straight shootout between him and Jones for a Test jersey. We need a big game from the Saracens duo, because when on form and at their best- they’re one of the best second-row partnerships in world rugby.
Anthony Watson came off the bench against the Crusaders and was outstanding. He looked dangerous in attack and made a number of clean breaks. Liam Williams in contrast, hasn’t looked lively. Watson should start on one wing for the first Test, providing he can impress once again.