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British & Irish Lions watch: Edition 2

07th November 2012 10:28

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Lions Watch

2013: Who will make the plane?

With the excitement building ahead of 2013's visit to Australia, we decided to pump up the volume by bringing you our second British & Irish Lions watch!

Every three weeks or so Planet Rugby will update its leaderboard for who should pack their bags, who should keep the diary open and who should stock the fridge with a few beers, pizzas and ice creams for soaking up the tour on the couch, as the most coveted of selections fast approaches.

We must stress that long-term injuries have been taken into account for our calls. However, those nearing a return to action are accommodated.

Here we go - make sure to give your feedback.

FULL-BACKS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Alex Goode appears to have won the 15 shirt for England ahead of Mike Brown, putting him in the frame for the trip to Australia this summer. Starting all four games this November could prove to be the making of him. Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny has continued to dazzle with both hands and feet, making him a certainty.

On standby: Rob Kearney, Mike Brown, Lee Byrne

Best make other plans next June: Ben Foden, Stuart Hogg, Rob Miller, Delon Armitage

WINGS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Alex Cuthbert and Tim Visser continue to cross the whitewash with enough consistency to warrant starting spots. Wales wing George North has work to do but should travel, along with Tommy Bowe. Class is permanent as they say.

On standby: Chris Ashton, Andrew Trimble, Ugo Monye

Best make other plans next June: Simon Zebo, Keith Earls, Charlie Sharples, Christian Wade, David Strettle

CENTRES

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: The area of both greatest depth and intense debate. Brian O'Driscoll's absence from the November Internationals is a setback. Manu Tuilagi is a must, whilst Brad Barritt gets a chance due to Jonathan Joseph's injury. Welsh double act Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts will travel with Scott Williams a possible centre/wing.

On standby: Scott Williams, James Hook, Anthony Allen, Ashley Beck, Jonathan Joseph, Matt Scott, Owen Farrell

Best make other plans next June: James Downey, Dom Waldouck, Paddy Wallace, Gordon D'Arcy, Jordan Turner-Hall, Fergus McFadden, Billy Twelvetrees

FLY-HALVES

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: The number one contender? Still Jonathan Sexton, but there is competition. Toby Flood has responded to the form of Freddie Burns with some excellent play of his own. The Welsh battle continues but for the moment, Rhys Priestland holds the slightest of edges. Despite returning to Gloucester, Burns joins our third tier.

On standby: Dan Biggar, Jonny Wilkinson

Best make other plans next June: Ruaridh Jackson, Ronan O'Gara, Danny Cipriani, Charlie Hodgson, Freddie Burns

SCRUM-HALVES

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Mike Phillips is battling for his Wales shirt with Tavis Knoyle but should travel. Danny Care has been excellent for Harlequins with Ben Youngs doing enough to also make the plane. That leaves Greig Laidlaw as the final traveller.

On standby: Conor Murray , Lee Dickson, Tavis Knoyle

Best make other plans next June: Eoin Reddan, Richard Wigglesworth, Lloyd Williams

NUMBER EIGHTS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: We have a new contender who slipped through our radar last time out. Kelly Brown has been consistently good for Saracens and a big November could make him a shoo-in due to his ability to play six and eight. Nick Easter drops out due to his non call-up while Jamie Heaslip remains. Toby Faletau's start means he moves up.

On standby: Thomas Waldrom, David Denton, Ben Morgan, Toby Faletau

Best make other plans next June: Peter O'Mahony, Jordan Crane, Nick Easter, Andy Powell, Richard Baxter

FLANKERS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: The Lions' strongest area over the past 12 months but suddenly there are injury concerns at flank. Three key players, Stephen Ferris, Dan Lydiate and Sean O'Brien are currently on the sideline so at the moment we have Chris Robshaw and Sam Warburton, with Ferris and O'Brien still making the list due to their obvious class.

On standby: Justin Tipuric, Ross Rennie, Tom Croft, Dan Lydiate

Best make other plans next June: Phil Dowson, John Barclay, Alasdair Strokosch, Chris Henry, Rob McCusker, Tom Wood, Ryan Jones, Iain Henderson

SECOND-ROWS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: We stick with the experienced Paul O'Connell and Alun-Wyn Jones while we expect Courtney Lawes to recover and be peaking in the New Year. Geoff Parling remains in the mix while Jim Hamilton busts his way onto our standby list.

On standby: Donnacha Ryan, Richie Gray, Nathan Hines, Mouritz Botha, Jim Hamilton

Best make other plans next June: Bradley Davies, Al Kellock, Donncha O'Callaghan, Joe Launchbury

HOOKERS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Luck is most definitely on young Tom Youngs' side after Dylan Hartley's injury sees the Leicester Tiger become England's first choice. If he can make a statement this month then maybe he will be a bolter. Rory Best is also currently on the treatment table so Leinster's Richardt Strauss has a chance to shine in green/black.

On standby: Tom Youngs, Richard Hibbard, Ross Ford

Best make other plans next June: Sean Cronin, Matthew Rees

PROPS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Much like the Ferris situation, we look past the month-long injury of Adam Jones and keep him in the squad due to his quality. Dan Cole is his rival for the three jersey while Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins are our looseheads. Keep an eye on England's new loosehead Mako Vunipola this month as we feel five props will be taken.

On standby: Tom Court, Alex Corbisiero, Mike Ross

Best make other plans next June: Euan Murray, Andrew Sheridan, Allan Jacobsen, Geoff Cross

By Ben Coles and Adam Kyriacou