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Don't look down: It’s Warren G’s slippery Lions ladder

Them Welsh lads would want to pull their socks up if they still want to go to Australia this summer.

Image: PA

WAY, WAY BACK in October, we brought you the first Lions ladder of the season.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. There have been disappointing displays from all four nations eligible for Lions selection, but also some intermittent rays of bright, gleaming hope from Ireland and England.

So (with their up or down progress from the last edition indicated in brackets) here comes part two of the tool Warren Gatland will almost certainly use to pick his squad for the long trip south next summer.

1. Sam Warburton (+3)

The most frightening thing about Australia is their ability to produce the perfect openside as if by order. Even if they are deprived of David Pocock they now have Michael Hooper to fill in.

Sam Warburton is the only thing that comes close to Pocock or Hooper for the Lions and he currently looks a shadow of the man who bossed the World Cup and Six Nations over the past 14 months.

Warren Gatland doesn’t just need Warburton. He needs that Warburton.

2. Jonathan Sexton (+7)

3. Gethin Jenkins (-1)

4. Richie Gray (+6)

5. Paul O’Connell (-4)

O’Connell’s fall from the summit and Gray’s ascension is only brought about by the uncertainty surrounding the Munster lock’s fitness in both the short and long term. If fit in the run up to June he should retain his captaincy; if he continues as he is, he’ll just be taking up a seat.

6. Mike Ross (-2)

7. Rob Kearney (No change)

8. Manu Tuilagi (+25)

9. Stephen Ferris (-1)

10. Mike Phillips ( -4)

11. Adam Jones (No change)

12. Jamie Heaslip (+4)

13. Cian Healy (No change)

14. Leigh Halfpenny (No change)

15. Jamie Roberts (-3)

16. Tom Wood (New entry)

17. Chris Robshaw (+5)

18. Geoff Parling (+14)

19. Brian O’Driscoll (No change)

20. Owen Farrell (+9)

He is nowhere near a Test class number 10 yet, but even after a week of heavy criticism when he was shortlisted for the IRB gong, he suited up and kicked his goals. His versatility and experience as a centre will ensure him a place in the travelling squad.

21. Rory Best (-7)

22. Richard Hibbard (-1)

23. Sean O’Brien (-3)

24. Toby Flood (-7)

25. George North (No change)

26. Dan Cole (No change)

27. Joe Launchbury (new entry)

28. Alex Corbisiero (No change)

29. Tommy Bowe (+1)

30. Simon Zebo (New entry)

As a winger with genuine pace and finishing ability and now international experience as a fullback, November has helped the Corkman’s cause no end.

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31. Dan Lydiate (-13)

32. Eoin Reddan (-8)

33. Alun Wyn Jones ( -7)

34. Ross Rennie (+1)

35. Danny Care (-4)

36. David Denton (-13)

37. Dan Biggar (+1)

The Osprey 10′s injury at the very start of Wales’ awful autumn campaign may well stand to him in the long run as Rhys Priestland’s deficiencies were again laid bare for all to see.

38. Chris Ashton (+2)

39. Craig Gilroy (New entry)

40. Tom Youngs (New entry)

41. Ben Foden (- 3)

42. Toby Faletau (+1)

43. Alex Cuthbert (-7)

44. Mike McCarthy (New entry)

45. Stuart Hogg (No change)

….182. Gavin Henson (+4)

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Sean Farrell

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