Stuart Barnes Questions Irish Player’s Lions Test Starter Credentials
Stuart Barnes doesn’t think CJ Stander has what it takes to start a Test for the Lions this summer.
The outspoken Sky Sports pundit reckons Toby Faletau will start at eight against the All Blacks in the absence of Billy Vunipola, and that the Welshman would have lined out at blindside if the Saracens star was fit.
Barnes has casted doubt over Stander’s credentials to be a starter against the All Blacks, suggesting that while Stander has impressive numbers in terms of carries, he does not back it with metres made.
Speaking on The Times’ Ruck podcast, Barnes explains:
There was a chance that they were going to play Taulupe Faletau, who has had a sensational end to the season, at six. He’s a lineout forward, he’s another carrier. He’s going to have to go to eight. He’s a class act, he’s a top level eight.
So what do you do at six? You then say, ‘Do we need another ball carrier there?’ Sean O’Brien comes into it because with Faletau going to eight and Vunipola dropping out, you’ve lost your out and out ball carrier. That’s the thing, someone’s got to just go bang, bang, bang.
Some people have been saying CJ Stander but Stander I think does it to a certain level, it’s an international level as well, but I’ve been watching him the last two months and I’m thinking he carries a lot, but it’s this awful statistics thing. ‘He’s made 28 carries and it’s, ‘Wow, let’s make him Man of the Match.’ Then you realise he’s gone minus two metres.
It was the old Steve Borthwick thing, we used to say, ‘Borthers has carrier really well today.’ Then you see he’s gone backwards over 12 carries.
The number of carries doesn’t matter, it’s the impact of the carries. Billy has massive impact. He carried so hard and fast, he could have pulled Kieran Read of the wing, where’s he’s so dangerous for New Zealand, and changed the way New Zealand play their game. That has gone now so there has to be a major restructure of the back-row.
Barnes however thinks Stander’s Munster and Ireland teammate Peter O’Mahony, could work his way into the Test side.
I think Peter O’Mahony is another one who may have been taken on the tour to play in some of those mid-week games but could actually end up forcing his way into the test side.