Before the start of the 6 Nations, I wanted to do a few posts on the Lions; starting with who I think is a certainity to either a) go, and b) start in the text XV.
1. Cian Healy
That might be my Irish bias talking, but let me explain those.
Jonathan Sexton is the Lions 10, injury permitting. That's probably the only call that everyone in Europe agrees on, and he's in good form.
Being a 6 Nations captain gives you a boost to travel, and with not much alternatives in the number 8 shirt, Heaslip is almost a shoo in.
Cian Healy has been phenomenal so far this season, and with Jenkins his nearest challenger not getting enough gametime in Toulon, and Andrew Sheridan not certain of making with no English appearances, there is no one to stop him.
Other near certainities to travel include;
Rory Best, given the strength of the Irish hookers, and the leadership qualities that Best brings, he will certainly travel. I'm not backing Hartley to go, as I think he has too many disciplinary problems to be considered a definite.
Dan Cole and Adam Jones, both will go, but there is huge competition between these two for the test spot which is why I left it open.
Richie Gray, before the season, I had Gray as one of the few definites, but he has been involved in two poor teams which might affect him. Remains to be seen.
Paul O'Connell, less likely to go due to injuries, but I maintain that his presence on the tour would lift everyone, worth bringing if he can prove he can last a few games.
Sean O'Brien, He should start, but it's a question of where, depends on the other options in the back row, although there is a distinct possibility he mightn't due to
Stephen Ferris, who starts if he's 50% fit. What a colossus this man is. Thing is, he is rarely that fit.
Kelly Brown, I think Brown is a super player. Although he is one of the names mentioned here that I don't think will start in the test team. His presence on the touring squad would be a positive one, and I see him as a potential midweek captain.
Owen Farrell will probably go given his good form recently, and his ability to cover the centers. He's nowhere near Sexton though, and there aren't too many other 10's. This all depends if he starts in the 6Nations.
There are so many quality wingers in contention to go, so I don't want to name one that definitely will, but probably George North is ahead of everyone else at the moment.
Brian O'Driscoll, like Ferris and POC, if BOD is fit, he goes. His presence raises those around him. Jonathan Davies is pushing him hard for a test spot though.
Jonathan Davies, With the man above him meaning his XV place isn't guaranteed, I foresee at least one game where one of them places 12.
Rob Kearney and Leigh Halfpenny. Halfpenny has had an amazing year in the presence of mediocrity by his teammates at all levels. Kearney is just back from injury and would have been my front runner. Both will go, but it's close after that.