Lions Watch 2017: The Locks
Following up on the preview of who should be picked in the Lions front row, we’re here now to take a look at the potential locks to take on the All Blacks next summer.
Devin Toner: Following the loss of Paul O’Connell’s leadership in the Irish set-piece, Toner has really stepped up and become a leader in this Irish camp. Being 6 foot 11 inches tall would also certainly make Toner a threat in the air as all 6 Nations viewers would know, but Toner has stepped up other parts of his game making him a real threat in the fight for the Lions second row starting position.
Alun-Wyn Jones: Jones, as he always has been, was key in the previous season for Wales in their Rugby World Cup and Six Nations campaign. Jones was also named as captain for the final Lions test against Australia in 2013. He was also nominated for Player of the Year in 2015 and no doubt will be right up there for contention.
George Kruis: Kruis is an essential player in the english set-piece which is now known throughout the world for being very consistent. Kruis calls the line-out and therefore is the mind behind the consistency. Kruis also offers a very powerful direct running style. A good example of the sheer power he has is, his try against Scotland in the first match of the Grand Slam 6 Nations campaign in earlier this year.
Maro Itoje: Otoje combined well with Kruis both at Saracens and England. The towering lock has shown huge potential and has had plenty of success so far in his relatively short career. Itoje has won an U20 world cup as captain, and since he broke into the English first team he has won a Grand Slam and played a pivotal role in his country’s whitewash over Australia. He also enjoyed success with Saracens this year, winning the Aviva premiership and the Champions Cup and was also named European Player of the Year at only 21.
Iain Henderson: People sometimes underestimate the sheer power of Ian Henderson, but any Irish or Ulster Rugby fan would certainly not have this problem. Henderson is versatile too, he is not an out-and-out second row like Devin Toner or George Kruis but he can fill in at flanker too should he be needed.
Luke Charteris: Charteris has been Alun-Wyn Jones’ partner in crime in the Welsh second row for some time now, having made his debut in 2004, and has to made a name for himself as a sure line-out option in the Welsh set-piece. At 33, Charteris should be looking to make an impact in a Lions set-up sooner rather than later.
Richie Gray: Gray has been the Driving force in the Scottish pack for some time now,having made his international debut when he was only 20 years old. Gray was included in the last Lions tour and made a reasonable impact on the tour of Australia, playing against all of the major clubs. his quality speaks for itself as Gray has just signed a 4-year contract with Toulouse after getting many offers from clubs around Europe.
Jonny Gray: Receiving his first international cap at the tender age of 19, Jonny Gray has been seen as an exciting prospect in Scottish rugby for the past 3 years, He has been starting consistently since the November internationals of 2014. Jonny Gray, plays his club rugby at the Glasgow Warriors and has been since 2012, closing in on 50 caps in the process. While still young, Gray has been in the game for a while, but is it long enough to be included in a Lions tour is the question.
Donnacha Ryan: Donnacha Ryan is an extremely hard worker on the field, he may have been included in the 2013 Lions tour, only due to injuries he was sidelined for most of the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons. Ryan really gives everything in terms of work rate when he is on the pitch, which is uncommon for a 32-year-old 18 stone lock and hence he has an Irish starting place and is a real contender for being chosen on the Lions tour.