Thursday 31 January 2013

It's going to be a big 6 Nations for...

Loosehead Prop:

Ryan Grant
Gethin Jenkins
David Kilcoyne
Tom Court
Joe Marler

not including: Cian Healy

With Cian Healy should be at least guaranteed a touring spot, there are one and probably two loosehead spots up for grabs. With one main Scottish contender, three Welsh, two English and possibly two more Irish contenders. Ryan Grant seems to be making a name for himself up in Scotland, and recently was promoted to vice captaincy. With Jenkins not on top form, and Corbisero injured, he might just sneak on the plane, but a strong competition is needed. Speaking of Jenkins, I wouldn't be convinced he is guaranteed of his place in the Welsh team, but whoever gets the loosehead spot in the Welsh team has a great chance of making the plane too. Marler has a slight chance, but I'd be worried about his indiscipline, and he seems a bit raw. Dave Kilcoyne and Tom Court have both been in exceptional form. If either get a decent amount of game time, and no one else pulls up trees, Gatland might be inclined to pick one of these. It's unlikely, but not unheard of.


Dougie Hall
Richard Hibbard
Rory Best
Dylan Hartley

Hooker is the first position where no one has made a strong claim to the jersey. Most people outside of Scotland may have expected Ross Ford to be selected, but Dougie Hall has shown strongly this season, and has a chance to stake his claim for a plane seat. Matthew Rees seems to have fallen from grace from the Welsh side aswell, and there are calls for Hibbard to be the test hooker. I must admit I haven't seen too much of him, so will be watching with extra attention on Saturday. Dylan Hartley is a good player. An arrogant so and so, with a discipline problem though. I have to admit, I'm not sure I want him on the tour. Rory Best brings leadership and scrummaging prowess. He has a good chance, but I've been worried about his line-out throwing, especially recently. It hasn't been good in the Heineken Cup.

I would love for Richardt Strauss to be involved, as I think he offers different attributes especially at the breakdown that no other hooker offers. Sean Cronin has an outside chance, as he the best ball handling hooker out of those mentioned, but needs a lot more game time to come into the reckoning.


Mike Ross
Euan Murray

With Cole and Jones so far ahead of the rest, and Gatland might not even bring a third tighthead, but it has to be between Mike Ross and Euan Murray. It's all about scrums. With no games being played on Sunday, this means Murray won't be excluded from anything. It's a toss up, neither o 

not including : Dan Cole, Adam Jones

Second Rows:

Ali Kellock
Richie Gray

Joe Launchbury
Courtney Lawes
Mouritz Botha
Geoff Parling

Ian Evans
Donnacha Ryan

Mike McCarthy

Second Row is another where not many have put there hands up. Let me say now, that if Paul O'Connell plays any amount of minutes in at least two matches before April 30th, no matter what matches they are, I think he should go. He is a man that commands respect, and a titan of the game. His leadership and experience would be vital and lift everyone on tour. Richie Gray just needs to show something small to show that playing on two losing teams hasnt affected him. After that there are places up for grabs. Kellock is a fantastic line-out operator, Ryan is a great tackler and workhorse. Last year I thought Lawes was a certainity, but now he can't get in the team. Launchbury could be a bolter and has impressed.

The second row race is wide open, and any good performances will not go unnoticed.


Kelly Brown
Johnnie Beattie

Chris Robshaw
Tom Wood
Ben Morgan

Justin Tipuric
Sam Warburton
Toby Faletau

Peter O'Mahony
Chris Henry
Jamie Heaslip
Stephen Ferris

There is so much competition for places in the back row. All 4 home nations captains are back rowers. And with Sean O'Brien almost guaranteed a place in the touring party, and Dan Lydiate another certainity, it's likely that one of the captains won't be picked. On blindside, Fez if fit travels. Same sort of reasoning as Paulie. And with Lydiate there too, it doesn't leave too much for another blindside. Kelly Brown can cover all positions, but is mostly a 6. I think he'd be a great person to tour, as captain of the midweek side and performing well with Saracens.

I don't think Chris Robshaw is a 7. Nor do I think he is a backrower. He has some leadership skills, without great decision making skills, tackles a lot, but isnt that effective at ballcarrying as a back rower could be. In my eyes he is a short second row.

Conventional Opensides are essential, which leaves Tipuric, Warburton and Ross Rennie. I'd include Henry and O'Donnell, but then I'm just being irish. They won't go.

Jamie Heaslip probably has the most cushiest of positions of the captains. There arent too many 8s in contention, Ben Morgan needs a good showing, and Faletau needs to rediscover form. Beattie has performed well recently to give him a shout, but Heaslip is a distance ahead.

not including: Sean O'Brien


Greg Laidlaw

Danny Care
Ben Youngs
Mike Phillips
Conor Murray

Another position where no contender has pushed ahead. Care is possibly the best, but discipline problems cost him. And he isn't starting giving Youngs an advantage. It'll be interesting to see how Laidlaw goes at 9, or if Pyrgos gets a go. Laidlaw's versatility may help his cause. Murray needs to improve substantially. He is too similiar a player to Phillips for me to take both. I'd prefer to have complimenting scrumhalves, and Murray is behind Phillips for me. Saturday will be a test for both.

Out Half

Dan Biggar
James Hook
Owen Farrell
Toby Flood
Freddie Burns

Jonny is nailed on test spot. Farrell has been showing the most promise too, and will probably travel as he can cover centre too. It'll be between himself and Hook for that slot, and it looks like Hook wont start. Biggar has a big chance with Priestland out. I'm a fan of Biggar and think he can do it. Burns has the potential to be a bolter, but whether he gets a chance is another thing. I'd love to see it.

not including: Jonathan Sexton

Inside Centre

Billy Twelvetrees
Brad Barritt

I love the idea of bringing Billy Twelvetrees. If he can show that he is able for this level then I would bring him. He would offer a different attacking option to bring on instead of Jamie Roberts or Jonathan Davies or whoever plays 12. Brad Barritt wasn't rated by me at first, but he is solid in defence, and not totally useless in attack, a promising campaign for either helps their cause.

not including: Jamie Roberts

Outside Centre

Brian O'Driscoll
Manu Tuilagi

It seems strange to include the great man as needing a big campaign. It'll be his last, and his presence lifts players much like Paulie. A good campaign could see him as captain.

not including: Jonathan Davies


Tim Visser
Sean Maitland
Chris Ashton
Alex Cuthbert
George North
Craig Gilroy
Simon Zebo
Luke Fitzgerald
Eli Walker

Another area where we are blessed with such outrageously talented options. I mean, pick 4 of those players, not forgetting Tommy Bowe, and you have 4 great wingers that would grace any Lions squad. Big campaigns needed to get on the plane, and further competition right up until test time.

If it were up to me, I would try and bring as much balance and have wingers offering different things. Gilroy and North are both quality players, but bring different threats to the team. 


Stuart Hogg
Rob Kearney
Ben Foden
Mike Brown
Alex Goode
Lee Byrne

Just like the wingers, except there are two main contenders. Kearney hasn't been himself since he's been back, so a good tournament will help him. Apart from that, the others have all displayed versatility, and all are extremely talented. It's a surprise Foden wasn't in the 23 for England. It's going to be a tight race.

not including: Leigh Halfpenny

My touring squad;
Cian Healy, Ryan Grant, Gethin Jenkins,
Rory Best, Richard Hibbard, Richardt Strauss / Dylan Hartley
Adam Jones, Dan Cole, Euan Murray
Gray, Hines, Launchbury , O'Connell/ Kellock
O'Brien, Ferris / Brown , Lydiate
Warburton, Tipuric,
Heaslip, Beattie,
Phillips, Youngs, Care,
Sexton, Biggar, Farrell,
Twelvetrees, Roberts,
O'Driscoll, Davies,
Halfpenny, Bowe/ Visser, North, Gilroy/ Fitzgerald, Maitland
Kearney, Hogg, Goode

I know there are question marks there, especially in the back three. And I want 36 to go. Apart from that, I'd be confident of 90% of those travelling.
Back three, second row and back row are the toughest.

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