The Real Winners And Losers of The British & Irish Lions Tour To New Zealand
The oracle has spoken!
Who is the oracle? His name is Lee Whitmore and hath a rugby mind like no other. He also has excellent hand skills (ahem) and plenty of time available to analyse the game of rugby.
He currently plays for his local rugby team and has been doing so from an early age. He has also been drinking from an early age and has been known to complete a Cheeky’s ‘meal deal’.
This is his first contribution to testosteronejunkie.com and once Gatland has got hold of his ass, probably his last!
So, as the first test approaches and the British (and Irish) rugby public watch with bated breath to see whether their favorite players have been selected, we at Testosterone Junkie have decided to review the series so far and look at the winner and losers of the new Zealand tour.
Testosterone junkie prides itself on the hours of vital research we do and this tour has been no different.
Every game so far we have selflessly planted ourselves in front of the big screen in our local Yates’ (obviously were all our good work is done) and studied the ins and outs of each game and each players individual performance.
From the lows of Jaegerbombs at 10am to drown our sorrows after the blues game to the dizzying heights of a few celebratory Sambucas watching big Ben Te’o tear the New Zealand Maori apart.
We have been there ‘studying’. Due to these many hours of research we have come up with our three ‘winners and losers’ of the tour so far.
Lets start with the winners, the lads that have done nothing but improve their standing in the rugby world.
This one may come as a surprise to many but the young coach keeps going from strength to strength in my eyes.
As a player he was known for his excellent work in the lineout and as a coach its much the same.
The only thing anyone can say has truly worked on this tour and really clicked is the set piece, and this is directly down to the fantastic work by Borthwick.
The man has taken England from a 50/50 lineout to the best in the world and he has certainly brought that Midas touch to the Lions lineout.
Wont be remembered by many for his efforts but testosteronejunkie.com always appreciates good work. Nice one Steve!
The big ‘Welshman’ came into this tour, in my eyes, lucky to be selected, a season full of injury and disappointment only salvaged by the last few games.
Going into the Provincial Barbarian game Faletau had a point to prove and he certainly did that, an incredible try saving tackle rounding off a top display in what was an incredibly poor performance by the Lions.
Suddenly thrust into the eyes of the armchair selector, Faletau went into the Crusaders game with a bit of a strut and you could see this from the start, carrying well and grafting harder around the park than I’ve ever seen the Bath man.
I cant help but think this upturn in form is partly due to the comments from Zinzan Brook questioning his ability, saying he hasn’t the mongrel to be the very best.
I just hope Eddie Jones keeps his mouth shut before next years Six Nations.
The big Samoan/New Zealand/Australian/Irish/English center was another surprise to make the tour, especially as he is mainly used as a bench warmer for England.
Many expected him to be a bit part player in the midweek team but how he has surprised us!
Its no coincidence that Te’o (as well as Faletau) have started in all three of the lions wins so far.
The big guy has brought a real go forward to the lions, a focal point for the forwards, giving the backs much needed front foot ball.
The running lines of Te’o have been Jamie Robertsesque and paired with a deadly offload this has made big Ben the player of the tour so far leading in to the first test. Well done Benny boy!
There are of course other winners on this tour and special mention must go out to Courtney Lawes, MakoVvunipola and Connor Murray on fine performances.
So that’s the good side of the tour, three lads that have pushed hard and done nothing but do themselves proud BUT as we know this tour has been a mixed bag so lets have a gander at the less successful tourists.
Jonny Sexton (first two games)
Coming into this tour the whole rugby world had Sexton and Farrell as their 10/12 combination, until they watched the Provincial Barbarians game.
His kicking game out of hand was totally aimless, his running of the back line looked confused and at times he had the hands of a digital watch, a truly awful display by the Leinsterman.
Surely that must have been the jet-lag, a man of Sextons quality couldn’t do that again well think again, a reasonably early substitute for Dan Biggar against the Blues just carried on where he left off.
Thankfully his last performance against the Maori All Blacks brought back a semblance of form, should he play in the test matches he’s seriously going to have to up his game.
The second time Sam has captained a Lions tour after 2013 where he spent much of his trip sat in the physios room.
Well much the same this year, I do feel a little bad about putting Warburton on the list as he can’t help getting injured but for me if you’re the Lions captain, unless your leg is dropping off you get out on that paddock and put a shift in.
So in summary either man up or hand the armband over to someone else and join the supporters club, as having a constantly crocked captained doesn’t help anyone.
Now this was an absolute given for me.
I was willing to give Gatland a clean slate and a chance to win me over, even after he didn’t pick Joe Launchbury in the initial squad.
I could put his warrenball tactics to one side and support the lions and their manager through thick and thin…until, the announcement on Saturday that he would be bringing 6 new faces into camp.
Now I, like many was probably a little excited to see the likes of Launchbury, Hartley or Jonny Gray being flown in but no, to my dismay Gatland announces Tomas Francis, Kristian Dacey, Cory Hill, Gareth Davies, Finn Russell and Allan Dell and citing ‘geographical reasons’ as his excuse.
From those 6 only Russell and possibly Davies deserve that call up, Gatland has devalued the sacred Lions shirt and cheapened the honor that many hold with pride as their greatest achievement.
I’m not going to lie this decision has really pissed me off and I sincerely hope that he never gets the honor again BUT if he comes out of the other end with a series win I’m sure that will go a long way in making up for it.
So that’s the testosteronejunkie.com winners and losers list for the tour leading up to the first test, let us know if you agree or disagree and who you would put in those positions.