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The British & Irish Lions Tour fans’ team pick contains very few Welsh players

November 30th, 2020Rugby
Lions’ fans have voted for the selection of players who they see as making up the most effective Lions touring side to take on South Africa next summer and there are only two Welshmen that make the team.

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has had to navigate accusations of preference towards Welsh players while in charge on previous tours, after all he did own the lead role at Wales for twelve years, however based on the fans’ choice that issue seems unlikely to arise in 2021. 
 
The fans’ final British & Irish Lions line-up has been released and should their opinions prevail, there will be just two Welsh players included in the starting line-up. In truth Wales have not enjoyed a good 2020, with only a recent 18-0 victory over Georgia in the Autumn Nations Cup on 21st of November calling a halt to a run of six Test defeats on the bounce. However, as I write, Wales have just recorded their seventh defeat, at home to a superior England team in the same competition.

Predictably, speculation as to those in form players destined to secure themselves a seat on the plane ticket to South Africa has already begun. If you’d care to look back through the related articles on the Expat Sport website, hopefully as you book your tickets and tour packages for The British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa 2021, you’ll see we’ve already had our own stab at a squad member forecast at the backend of  May, entitled First Pass Squad Pick -.

Anyway, a fans’ XV based on their votes per player/position was published through the Lion app. Only two Wales players, Liam Williams on the wing and Jonathan Davies at centre made the team. Davies lines up alongside Manu Tuilagi, who is in a group of ten England players voted into the side.

While Wales produced a better performance against England, they were still comprehensively beaten. Although it is a tad early to determine whether a national side’s poor form will affect the chances of a place for normally outstanding players in Gatland's squad, the fans clearly do not see much space for Welsh representation at this point in time.

For example, there is no opportunity for lock Alun Wyn Jones, as Ireland's James Ryan joins Maro Itoje in the second row.

An all England back row of Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola and Sam Underhill slots in behind a front row of made up of Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Ireland's Tadhg Furlong.

Stuart Hogg becomes Scotland's sole representative at full-back, while Jonny May of England takes the other wing position.

Yet more England players, Owen Farrell claims the number 10 spot, while Ben Youngs is selected at scrum-half.

Obviously, there is still more water to pass under the bridge before main-man Gatland must finally  make up his mind, yet the current consensus says that England are likely to contribute a significant body of players to next summer’s Lions squad.

The British & Irish Lions will face Japan in a historic 'home' game on 26th of June at Scotland’s international ground Murrayfield in Edinburgh before flying down to South Africa, the first Test is due to kick off in Port Elizabeth on July the 7th.

Fans' Choice Lions : Stuart Hogg, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, James Ryan, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong. 

Lion’s Fan Comments:

“Regarding Welsh players we shouldn’t forget about Taulupe Faletau, who’s very much coming back into form and demonstrating that he is still a Lions contender. He offers a lot in attack being able to operate across the outside channel as well as in the tighter areas. Good feet, beats a lot of first tacklers, never huge yardage but generally two metres beyond the gain line which can be all that’s needed. Given he is fit and in form then Faletau’s up there among the most effective number 8s in world rugby. Billy Vunipola is favourite for the slot of course, but both Taulupe Faletau and Ross Moriarty should be there or thereabouts in the conversation.”
 
“We know that Wales’ current mediocre form will be weighing heavily on Alun Wyn Jones, if the team is not playing well over time it can get on top of you, both as a player and a captain. The desire to compensate for your team-mates and lift them by putting in that extra personal effort can eventually have a downside effect on your form.

Despite that AWJ’s still a proven world-class player and you don’t lose that overnight, and with regard to age, he is by no means the oldest lock to have played for the Lions. His captaincy skills alone still make him a strong candidate to go on this tour. He has a presence, so at the very least you’d want him on the tour for his leadership capability. Also Alun is one of those players who, when things aren’t going well, are able to take themselves to a different level on the big occasion at the right moment. I think Warren is acutely aware of that, which might just swing it.”

“The captaincy is still up for grabs for me. Personally I still like the look of Jamie George. He’s not that all singing, all dancing cabaret headline player, much more understated and I think that might suit the Lions. Jamie’s a level-headed sensible tactician reminiscent of Ireland’s Rory Best and a steady option I feel - all qualities which could serve the Lions well against the Springboks.” 

“Personally I think Jack Willis might have a real shout for the tour. His winning turnover count is twice that of his nearest rival in the English Premiership; that is an exceptional statistic. The Springboks are fiercely combative in the breakdown, they love to take the upper hand and bully the opposition in that aspect of play. Jack is virtually guaranteed to win a respectable number of turnovers per game, potentially making him a seriously effective weapon for the Lions.”

Well there we have it, an anthology of Lions fans team talk, but naturally you’re all considered part of that pride of Lions’ supporters. If you haven’t already committed to The British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa 2021 don’t miss out on your tickets and tour packages. 

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