Sir Ian McGeechan tips wildcard selections for British and Irish Lions squad
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 26/04/13 9:43am
Sir Ian McGeechan believes Warren Gatland will include one or two surprise selections when he unveils his British and Irish Lions squad to tour Australia.
The Lions will play 10 matches - including three Tests against the Wallabies - this summer, with Gatland set to reveal his squad on April 30.
With a wealth of talent to choose from and only 36/37 places available, there will be some quality players left behind.
However McGeechan, who led the Lions to 2-1 victories over Australia in 1989 and South Africa in 1997 as well as on 1993 and 2007 tours, insists there is still room for a player to break into the squad out of left field.
Ready to Roar
And McGeechan, who made the surprise selections of the likes of Will Greenwood and John Bentley in '97, thinks it is in the backs that Gatland might bring in a wildcard selection.
"I'm sure there will be a couple of surprises," McGeechan told Sky Sports.
"I think the coaches will have taken a long look at the squad since Christmas, and from the end of the Six Nations they will have had the top 25 or so sorted.
"They will have then been taking a really hard look at the last 10-12 players as those are the ones that can make the tour.
"Selection is a personal thing for a coach and he will have his own feel about the different players and combinations he is after.
"However I think at full-back or the back three there are a couple of possibilities for a surprise selection.
"Warren might just look at the hard pitches around Australia and decide that a certain player might just be right for the conditions."
Whether or not to pick an inexperienced player is just one of the decisions for Gatland to make, with the New Zealander having to weigh up whether or not included a number of seasoned campaigners like Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll.
"For a coach it is a big dilemma," said McGeechan. "Your experienced players have been there and done that but have they got another series in them or a last Lions tour?
"It is a similar dilemma with the younger players. Will they be able to build on their game and step it up a level?
"If you look at the likes of Jamie Heaslip and co four years ago we saw their games really come on."
Sir Ian McGeechan is the ambassador for FirstCape wine which has launched www.lionswineclub.com in association with The British & Irish Lions. For more information about FirstCape wine visit www.firstcape.com