Friday, 26 April 2013

It's a Massive Weekend for...

Luke Charteris

The forgotten man plays for Perpignan. Had a stellar 6 Nations a year ago and it's conceivable a strong performance might remind Gatland of his qualities. His chances are slim, but not non-existent.

James Hook

With Gatland declaring that there will only be 2 out-halves, Hook's versatility and familiarity with Gatland might be in his favour. He's been missing from Wales in recent years, but a big performance would help his cause. PERPIGNAN IN TOP 14?

Cian Healy

Healy still has some doubters in England, Wales and Scotland, especially over his scrummaging and discipline. A strong showing in the tight against a Biarritz scrum will do wonders in his battle for a Test spot.

Richardt Strauss

As a complete alternative at hooker, Strauss brings a different set of skills than Tom Youngs and Richard Hibbard. An influential performance might sneak him onto the plane, after injury wrecked his chances of impressing in the 6 Nations.

Mike Ross

In what appears to be a two way battle for the third tighthead spot, Mike Ross has an extra go at impressing the watching Howley and Rowntree. Euan Murray is the other contender, and a dominant scrum performance would help his cause and extend his season even longer.

Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip has come in for a lot of criticism this year. A matchup against Imanol Harinordoquoy is not a meaningless challenge, and maybe Heaslip can show he can still put in the big performances. It's been a big fall from grace for him, but he's not out of it yet.

Jonny Sexton

Just back from injury, Gatland will want his main man match fit come Lions time. Is this game too soon for him though? Great opportunity to shore up the test spot.

Ian Madigan

Still has an outside bet for the Lions, however small, although it might be in his favour to be seen play well at 12. Not that that will help. This game is important for him going forward in Leinster, and whether he starts or not and how that effects him. He's in form right now.

Brian O'Driscoll

How the great man isn't class a shoe in for the test yet is beyond me. One last chance to prove what he brings to the team is more than his skills, but his influence and leadership pn his teammates.

Rob Kearney

For me, Kearney has gone from a definite, to missing out completely. He's still in contention, but needs to show the world that he can get back into form.

Nathan Hines

He's an automatic choice for me, and despite Clermont almost guaranteed to be in the Top14 final, he must travel.

Lee Byrne

He's a contender, but it's unlikely as I think he's behind Rob Kearney

Paul O'Connell

After that furore, a big performance against a tough pack cements his spot in the Test XV.

Donnacha Ryan

On the edge of the plane, I have him as fighting for the last 2nd row spot on the plane with Nathan Hines. A big chance to get one over on his opposition with a performance.

Peter O'Mahony

His performance against Harlequins earned big reviews and puts him in contention. Probably on a standby list at the moment, but if Munster pull off a miracle, O'Mahony will have been a major reason for it. Outside chance.

Conor Murray

Very much in contention. Almost definitely on the standby list though. A big performance against Morgan Parra would be a big boost to his chances.

Simon Zebo

Zebo has been fantastic this year, and to me is a shoe in for the IRUPA player of the year. He's sneaking onto the plane at the moment, and has the chance to fully get himself inside.

Mako Vunipola

The push from the English media is strong to get him on the plane. He hasn't done enough for me, but if Gatland decides that the French based props aren't worth the hassle, then he is in with a chance.

Matt Stevens

For the sake of completeness. I saw Stevens on someone's selection, and it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on him tomorrow.

Owen Farrell

The competition for the 2 outhalf spots are fierce, and Farrell has it at the moment, but any slip up against Toulon could open the door to a Madigan or a Biggar charge.

Brad Barritt

The 2nd inside centre berth is arguably still up for grabs. Barritt's defensive capabilities are well documented, can he show us that he has more aspects to his game?

Chris Ashton

I am not a Chris Ashton fan. At all. But he scores too many tries when in form to discount him from the reckoning.

Alex Goode

Still a back three place up for grabs, and with Goode's ability to play ten, he has to be a front runner for the slot.

Andrew Sheridan

A devasting scrummaging performance might mean the hassle would be worth it.

Gethin Jenkins

Not being selected could mean that it's easier for him to leave early?