Former Wales and Lions centre Jamie Roberts has identified seven Wales players he believes should be selected in the British & Irish Lions starting XV in the upcoming three-Test series against the Springboks.
It was confirmed earlier in the week that the eight-match Lions tour of South Africa will go ahead as initially planned, after months of speculation that the event could be relocated to the UK or postponed amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
Roberts, a two-time Lions tourist in 2009 (South Africa) and 2013 (Australia), has earned a combined 97 Test caps for Wales and the Lions, scoring 13 tries.
Following the completion of the fifth and final round of Six Nations fixtures this past weekend, Roberts has revealed his preferred Lions lineup. It consists of seven Wales players, four Irishmen, two Scotsmen and two English players.
Interestingly, there is no place for the likes of Ireland’s CJ Stander, James Ryan or Johnny Sexton, neither for England’s Owen Farrell, Jonny May, Billy Vunipola or Maro Itoje.
Commenting on his selections, Roberts who has vast experience of playing in South Africa after a stint at the Stormers, said: ‘Josh Adams is a potential Test starter and Liam Williams and Hogg are in a straight shootout for full back. Anthony Watson has to start on the right wing.
‘When I look at the midfield, I don’t see that many candidates putting their hands up to start. Robbie Henshaw was brilliant against England – he is a Test Lion in the waiting. George North is a Test Lion. He’s a special player and will make the Test side, it’s just a question of whether Warren Gatland starts him on the wing or in the midfield.
‘With the way the Lions will want to play against the Boks, Conor Murray is in pole position for scrumhalf. I don’t think Warren will want to play a high tempo; he’ll want to go toe to toe at the set piece and get it spot on tactically with a kicking game. At No 10, Dan Biggar is in great form at the minute and is very smart tactically.
‘In the back row, Taulupe Faletau is uber aggressive, brilliant over the ball – just a fantastically physical back rower. That balance in the back row will be really good against the Boks.
‘Alongside Ken Owens in the front row, Wyn Jones has been highly impressive. Mako Vunipola is the old stager along with Cian Healy, but Jones is the young guy. I think all three will tour. On form, Jones is the most impressive loosehead and a Lion in waiting. Tighthead is Tadhg Furlong.’
Roberts’ Lions XV – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 George North, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Hamish Watson, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
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