'Warburton, Tipuric and Faletau should start for Lions on Saturday'
Phil Edwards explains why Warren Gatland should select an all-Welsh back row for the first Test.
Last Updated: 19/06/13 11:54am
It seems everyone has the same 12 or so names, with differences maybe at hooker, number 8, and loose-head prop - but I thought I would have my two penneth and set off down a slightly different avenue.
Cast your mind back to the final weekend of the Six Nations tournament and the Wales versus England match at the Millennium Stadium.
On that occasion Rob Howley (presumably after a phone call or two with Warren Gatland) picked both Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric in his starting line-up.
The rest, as they say, is history. Wales didn't just beat England, they thrashed them by a record margin. The same England that had recently trounced the All Blacks.
When it comes to the back-row, the accepted reasoning over here in Brisbane seems to be that the Lions have to pick Croft at 6 because of his lineout prowess. Makes sense at first.
Until you remember that in Cardiff, on March 16, the lineout was pretty indecisive. Messrs Croft and Parling were both playing that day, but I don't remember Wales being denied decent set-piece possession.
What I do remember is poor old Chris Robshaw and co getting a right old pasting down on the deck and Wales winning decisive turnover ball. Sometimes it was Warburton, sometimes it was Tipuric. Toby Faletau was also pretty useful in the loose and carried brilliantly that day.
My big concern heading in to the first Test is that the Wallaby breakaway, Michael Hooper, gets to be remembered as the player of the series. This guy, as I'm sure you know, is one serious operator at the breakdown. The Aussies always seem to be superb in this area.
My misgivings were compounded by what happened in the Brumbies match in Canberra. I will admit that Tipuric did not have his best game that night, but he has plenty of credit in the bank as far as I am concerned, while Faletau was one of the Lions' few bright lights on a dark and cold evening.
In my view this series will be decided by the side that wins the battle of the breakdown, not the battle of scrum nor the battle of the lineout.
So here is my team. It is certainly NOT the one that I expect the Lions selectors to pick., but what the heck, it's a free country:
15: LEE HALFPENNY
14: ALEX CUTHBERT
13: BRIAN O'DRISCOLL
12: JONATHAN DAVIES
11: GEORGE NORTH
10: JONATHAN SEXTON
9: MIKE PHILLIPS
1: ALEX CORBISIERO
2: TOM YOUNGS
3: ADAM JONES
4: ALUN WYN JONES
5: PAUL O'CONNELL
6: SAM WARBURTON (C)
7: JUSTIN TIPURIC
8: TOBY FALETAU
16: RICHARD HIBBARD
17: MAKO VUNIPOLA
18: DAN COLE
19: GEOFF PARLING
20: TOM CROFT
21: BEN YOUNGS
22: OWEN FARRELL
23: ROB KEARNEY
Right, I have my tin hat on, so hit me with your comments please!
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