Thursday, 18 June 2009

No surprises

So now we know. After the last few weeks of sparring and of mixing and matching, Geech has finally announced his team for the 1st Test against the Boks and the only real surprise is that it contains no surprises.

You really can't argue with any of he selections based on form - perhaps the 2nd row combination isn't quite right and the backrow mix has caused a bit of debate but the 15 starters are largely those I, and most other observers (including the South African management no doubt) expected to see.

And therein lies the problem. Personally I would have liked to have seen Geech throw a couple of curve balls just to keep the Boks guessing a little - maybe Sheridan at loose-head to test Smit's propping prowess, possibly Croft as a rangy 2nd row option or perhaps both Wallace and Williams on the flanks to contest the breakdown.

It's the bench, however, that concerns me the most, where those selected can best be described as "solid" rather than "impact" players. No Sheridan, no Andy Powell, no Simon Shaw, no Shane Williams, no Gordon d'Arcy- if the Lions' Plan A doesn't work there does not appear to be anyone on the bench who can come on and change the game and it could prove to be the Lions' undoing.

Plan A might, just might, be enough...but I have my doubts that 'safe and solid' will be sufficient and would have liked to have seen the Lions prepared to gamble, even if just a little bit.

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