Tuesday 30 April 2013

Lions Reaction

I wasn't planning on writing a piece about this, but some things can't go without a rant.

While I may have guessed 31 out of the 37 going, a lot of poor decisions were made.

Central to my frustration is the inclusion of Dylan Hartley, which I am not alone in, and said so in advance:

Dylan Hartley is a good player, and on reflection, possibly isn't the worst player that has ever, or will ever play for the Lions. 

But the Lions aren't picked solely for their playing credentials. 6 weeks with completely new teammates need good personalities, likeable people and the success on the field is directly related with team harmony on it.

Team harmony is something that will be helped by situations with this: 

Hartley's record includes: 
  • 26 week ban for gouging two different players in the same game, 
  • 8 week ban for biting
  • 2 week ban for elbowing

Hartley's inclusion comes ahead of Rory Best, Ken Owen, Richardt Strauss, Ross Ford, Sean Cronin and Dougie Hall.

It's something I really can't fathom. He isn't the hooker that is strong at ball-carrying and handling.

Rugby Onslaught summed it up well 2 years ago

Other less important issues:

Matt Stevens inclusion is a surprise, they might be hoping that his experience will help. Surprised not to see Euan Murray or Mike Ross in there, but it's ok.

Mako Vunipola is an impact player, but is unfit and a horrible scrummaging.

Richie Gray was a name that was a certainty a year ago. He is one of the most out of form players in the world right now. Strange call, but if he's a good player if he can get back to it.

2 Outhalves is a strange call, but was well flagged. Seems strange not to have a back up utility player to cover in the mould of Twelvetrees, Madigan, Hook, Laidlaw or Goode. The options were there. 3 Fullbacks and 2 outhalves seems daft.

I still wouldn't have picked Jonny Wilkinson, good kicker, good defender. Offers nothing else. The game has moved on from then.

Only one recognised Inside Centre is a worse call than the Outhalf position.

Overall the backline looks a bit ordinary. The best explanation of it is:

With no Zebo, or Wade, or Ian Madigan, there seems a lack of spark. Let's hope I'm wrong.

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