Three-time Lions tourist Will Greenwood has selected a Lions XV based on Six Nations form if the team were to face the Springboks this weekend.
With the Lions tour of South Africa confirmed to go ahead as scheduled between July and August 2021, former England centre Greenwood – who toured three times with the Lions between 1997 and 2005 – selected a form XV for Sky Sports.
While the XV will undoubtedly change between now and next July, there were a few noteworthy selections.
Greenwood backed England captain Owen Farrell at flyhalf ahead of the likes of Ireland’s Johnny Sexton and Welsh pair Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe.
‘[He] played 12 for the majority of the 2017 tour as he dovetailed with Ireland’s Johnny Sexton. Farrell has been a mainstay and leader for England as they reached the World Cup final, and for Saracens upon all their trophy success,’ Greenwood commented on his pick.
That meant that the inside centre position went to Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw, who was partnered with England’s Manu Tuilagi in midfield.
‘He has struggled massively with injuries through his career – indeed a serious pectoral tear against the Hurricanes in a warm-up match that ended his 2017 tour to New Zealand early,’ Greenwood said about Henshaw. ‘But when fit, his power and pace in defence and attack mark him out as a fantastic player.’
Interestingly, Greenwood has picked Wales’ Tomos Williams at scrumhalf, edging out Ireland’s Conor Murray and experienced English pair Ben Youngs and Danny Care.
‘The nippy Cardiff Blues halfback has a great kicking game and an all-round skill set which denotes him as a danger to all opposition defences,’ Greenwood said.
In the forwards, Greenwood picked a back row of Billy Vunipola, Justin Tipuric and Tom Curry – who starred for England during their 2019 World Cup campaign.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s James Ryan and England lock Maro Itoje – who has been touted for the captaincy – form the second row. Two of England’s 2019 World Cup pack are in the front row with Kyle Sinckler at tighthead prop and Jamie George at hooker. They are joined by Scotland loosehead prop Rory Sutherland.
Greenwood’s Lions XV – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Johnny May, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Tom Curry, 5 James Ryan, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rory Sutherland.
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