Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lions Selector: Fullback

The question that plagues rugby clubs up a down the nation, when ale flows and drunks talk the inevitable question rears its head; “Who would make your Lions XV?”

Now the time has come to meaningfully ask this question again, with Warren Gatland’s selection being the most important.

Here at Ruck ‘n’ Roll we are going to take a look at some of the decisions the Kiwi will have to make.

We start at fullback and with the player of the Six Nations, as Leigh Halfpenny’s place is surely nailed on. The diminutive fullback with a PhD in reliability silenced any doubters with assured performances. Kicking (both from hand and tee) was excellent and under the high ball no hands are safer.

It is Halfpenny's heart, however, that opens the chasm between him and his nearest rival for the number 15 jersey. The Blues fullback could teach the 'king of the beasts' a thing or two about bravery, with a never back down, never give up attitude that should draw admiration from even the most casual of rugby followers.

England offer no real alternative to the boy from Gorseinon. Alex Goode seems to have claimed the white 15 shirt of England despite Ben Foden's return. However, though dependable, Goode is rarely outstanding and seems to lack a sense of attacking creativity. That said, the stats show that Goode was this years top carrier for the Six Nations, so is it just a that his reputation precedes him?

Ireland's offering Rob Kearney may have entered the Six Nations as the man with a Lions starting place and his plane ticket almost booked, but he leaves it with his boarding pass in jeopardy and his passport possibly staying in his sock drawer.

Stuart Hogg seems the only man capable of wrestling that 15 jersey away from Halfpenny's assuring hands. His attacking skills have been electric as, at the ripe old age of just 20, he already starts delivering on the promises his talent has shown before. There may be plenty more Lions tour chances ahead for Hogg, but have no doubt he will want to travel to Australia and do so with a starting spot in mind. Should he get it, it certainly wouldn't be a case of a token spot for a braveheart of Scotland.

Surely though, it should be Leigh Halfpenny's lion heart that deserves to beat under a Lions shirt.

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