Monday, 6 April 2009

Of Wasps, Falcons and Lions...

Yesterday, I attended the Wasps v Newcastle clash at Adams Park and have to say that the lunch and beer were far more entertaining than the match itself.

That said, it wasn't that the two teams weren't trying to play an open game, it's just that both teams lacked precision and, apart from a late surge by the Falcons, there wasn't really what one might describe as a clear try-scoring opportunity.

The only flash of brilliance came from Danny Cipriani who slotted a dropped goal from just inside his own half, but it was a mixed bag again from him and, unless McGeechan does decide on a big dose of nepotism, I can't see any way young Danny can make the Lions trip this summer. Likewise Josh Lewsey, who was fairly ineffectual yesterday and whose pending retirement looks well timed.

Speaking of the Lions, there are now less than 2 weeks before Geech names his party. Based largely on 6 Nations form (and so ignoring possible "bolters" that may make it) I'd go with the following 36-strong squad:

Backs: Mike Phillips, Harry Ellis, Dwayne Peel, Stephen Jones, Ronan O'Gara, Toby Flood, Brian O'Driscoll, Riki Flutey, Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Tommy Bowe, Luke Fitzgerald, Mark Cueto, Lee Byrne, Rob Kearney, Delon Armitage.

Forwards: Gethin Jenkins, Andrew Sheridan, Adam Jones, Phil Vickery, Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Rory Best, Lee Mears, Paul O'Connell (capt), Donnacha O'Callaghan, Alun-Wyn Jones, Simon Shaw, Martyn Williams, David Wallace, Stephen Ferris, Joe Worsley, Tom Croft, Jamie Heaslip, Ryan Jones.

Not a huge contingent of Englishmen there - but probably a deserving quota based on the second half of the 6 Nations. A selection on these lines would also leave Martin Johnson with a decent bunch to choose from for the 2 Argentina test matches in June, for example:

Props: Payne, White, Corbisero, Wilson
Hookers: Hartley, Paice
Locks: Borthwick, Kennedy, Deacon, Crane
Flankers: Haskell, Rees, Moody, Armitage/Robshaw
No 8s: Easter, Narraway
Scrum halves: Care, Foden
Fly halves: Cipriani, Wilkinson
Centres: Geraghty, Barkley, Tait, Tindall
Wings: Monye, Sackey, Simpson-Daniel, Banahan
Fullbacks: Abendanon, Morgan

No doubt the front row will come under huge pressure and it could be a baptism of fire for the likes of Corbisero and/or Wilson - but there's plenty of opportunity here for Johnson to develop a few younger players whilst maintaining a degree of continuity from the 6 Nations.


bevvy said...

TF, been reading your blog for a while now, and I feel we are kindred spirits, albeit on different continents!
Reading this one - I was fortunate enough to go to one of the Premiership Finals days at HQ a few years back, and predictably sat up with the Gods. The first premiership game, between Leicester and Sale was a thrillride from start to finish, from where we were sitting. Lots of flowing running rugby, lots of points, we couldn't have asked for more. The Final, between Wasps and Bath was a much more tightly contested affair, and not much of a spectacle.
Contrarily, when I got home and called my Dad to tell him what a day he had missed, he said he had watched the whole lot on the telly, and said that the first game was rubbish, too many errors, from where he was sitting, and that the second game was edge-of-the-seat stuff from whistle to whistle. Just goes to show how differently the same game can be seen from different viewpoints.
Secondly, that proposed Lions team sends shivers down my spine - the first time I have actually looked forward to this Lions tour. Until now, it has felt a lot like a Lambs tour (to the slaughter) but that squad smacks of greatness.
Only time will tell!
Keep up the good work!

John said...

The only changes I have from your Lions tour are Blair for Ellis and Hook or Cipriani for Flood: their has to be room for a different fly half in there somewhere. Otherwise, superb squad.

I quote like the look of the England side as well, particularly adding the two above to your squad.