Planet Rugby

British & Irish Lions watch: Edition 3

20th November 2012 07:32

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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 third 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: Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny has remained a beacon of hope for his country despite consecutive defeats to Argentina and Samoa. Incredibly accurate with the boot, Halfpenny has shown great solidity under the high ball and with Rob Kearney still returning from injury, is the front-runner for the number 15 shirt when things kick-off in June.

On standby: Alex Goode, Stuart Hogg

Best make other plans next June: Ben Foden, Lee Byrne, Simon Zebo, Mike Brown

WINGS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: If they were getting enough possession, we might have a better idea. Tim Visser remains the firm favourite down the left with Alex Cuthbert edging out Chris Ashton and Tommy Bowe down the right. George North's form has dipped while a new face joins the outsiders as, following a hat-trick for Ireland XV, Craig Gilroy sneaks in.

On standby: George North, Andrew Trimble

Best make other plans next June: Fergus McFadden, Charlie Sharples, Ugo Monye, Sean Lamont, Keith Earls, Craig Gilroy

CENTRES

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Hands up anyone? Jamie Roberts was solid in defence on Friday but unable to break through in attack, whilst Manu Tuilagi has looked powerful but lacks the subtlety and skill set to upset the Wallabies. Secretly, everybody prays that Brian O'Driscoll is fit by time of departure. Jonathan Davies to travel as the Lions' fourth centre.

On standby: Ashley Beck, Jonathan Joseph, Matt Scott, Darren Cave, Owen Farrell

Best make other plans next June: Brad Barritt, Scott Williams, Dom Waldouck, Paddy Wallace, Gordon D'Arcy, Jordan Turner-Hall

FLY-HALVES

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Jonathan Sexton remains ahead of the pack, with Toby Flood breathing down his neck. Other names that continue to linger in the background include Greig Laidlaw and Rhys Priestland, but both have work to do. Dan Biggar's opportunity against Samoa last Friday was cut short but he should not be ruled out.

On standby: Rhys Priestland, Dan Biggar

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

SCRUM-HALVES

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Mike Phillips returned for Wales against Samoa and stood out on a disastrous evening for his country. Danny Care was influential in creating England's only try against Australia and remains a strong contender. Conor Murray squeaks in as the final traveller after some much-improved performances of late.

On standby: Mike Blair, Ben Youngs, Tavis Knoyle

Best make other plans next June: Henry Prygos, Eoin Reddan, Richard Wigglesworth, Lloyd Williams, Paul Marshall

NUMBER EIGHTS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: The Irish captaincy has seen Jamie Heaslip mature as a player over recent weeks while Kelly Brown continues to show his rugged edge for Scotland. Thomas Waldrom's carrying ability cannot be ignored and has been impressive so we opt for him and Scotland's David Denton as our eights, with Denton able to cover on the side.

On standby: Ben Morgan, Toby Faletau, Kelly Brown

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

FLANKERS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: A new face joins our lowest tier of contenders and that is Iain Henderson after impressive recent form for Ulster and Ireland. However, we stick with Stephen Ferris and Sean O'Brien despite their short-term injuries while Sam Warburton and Chris Robshaw also sneak in. Tom Wood may start this weekend so watch him go.

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

Best make other plans next June: Tom Johnson, John Barclay, Alasdair Strokosch, Chris Henry, Tom Croft, Ryan Jones, Iain Henderson

SECOND-ROWS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: One change from edition 2 as Nathan Hines overtakes Geoff Parling in our pecking order. Hines' Lions experience could be invaluable in Australia so he joins Alun-Wyn Jones, Richie Gray and a hobbling Paul O'Connell. England long for the dynamism of Courtney Lawes so once he returns, it will be interesting to monitor his form.

On standby: Donnacha Ryan, Jim Hamilton, Courtney Lawes, Geoff Parling

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

HOOKERS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: We have decided to leave things alone in the hooking department as Rory Best, Dylan Hartley and Richardt Strauss remain, despite the formerly mentioned duo being on the sidelines. There's been nothing spectacular from their rivals thus far in November as England's Tom Youngs and Scotland's Ross Ford live in hope.

On standby: Tom Youngs, Ross Ford, Matthew Rees

Best make other plans next June: Sean Cronin, Richard Hibbard, David Paice

PROPS

Kiss the wife and kids goodbye: Despite apparent unhappiness in France, Gethin Jenkins should turns things around and join Cian Healy, Dan Cole and Adam Jones as the four key props on the plane next year. Meanwhile, Mike Ross could be the third tighthead travelling.

On standby: Ryan Grant, Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola

Best make other plans next June: Paul James, Euan Murray, Andrew Sheridan, Tom Court, Joe Marler

By Ben Coles and Adam Kyriacou
@bencoles_ and @PlanetRugbyAK

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