Former England prop Phil Vickery welcomes strong Welsh theme

Last Updated: 08/06/13 2:30pm

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Former England forward Phil Vickery admits he would welcome a British and Irish Lions Test team dominated by Welshmen should it be equipped to beat Australia.

While the Australian media continue to dub Warren Gatland's squad the 'Welsh and Irish Lions' it is conceivable the starting XV for the opening Test on June 22 may not feature any English players.

Vickery, who won five caps during the 2001 and 2009 Lions tours, is not surprised by the dominating start the 15-strong Welsh contingent have made to the tour.

"I get a lot of stick for my views on the Welsh presence in the Lions, but while I'm a proud Englishman, I'm also proud of northern hemisphere rugby," he said.

"The reality is that there's a large number of Welsh in the squad and that's because they're good, that's fact. They've played well and have consistently shown what they can do.

"I'd have no issues with a Test team based heavily on Wales if it was the best side."

"The reality is that there's a large number of Welsh in the squad and that's because they're good, that's fact."
Phil Vickery

Reality

The tour steps up a gear for the Lions on Saturday when they face the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, following easy victories against the Barbarians and Western Force.

After scoring 17 tries on their way to 128 points against the Barbarians and Force, the Lions face much stronger opposition on Saturday as Quade Cooper leads a Reds side which boasts nine internationals.

However, 37-year-old Vickery is cautious not to place too much emphasis on tour matches as he insists the threat of Australia is difficult to replicate.

"I remember 2001 and it was all the same chat then. Ultimately it's out of the Lions' control, and don't forget everyone raises their game for the Lions. It's everyone's cup final," he added.

"As it progresses the intensity levels will go up and up. The Reds match will be geared towards building for the Tests. The Lions are on the prowl because momentum is beginning to build.

"It's important when it comes to the build-up not to over-read it. I've had good build-ups where the team hasn't performed, and vice versa."

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