Open thread: Who do you want as your Lions out-half?

Warren Gatland has two excellent options to start at 10 but there is room for one more.

Owen Farrell tries to block a Jonathan Sexton kick.
Owen Farrell tries to block a Jonathan Sexton kick.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

WE ARE JUST under 48 hours away from the announcement of the British & Irish Lions squad to travel to Australia this summer. Today, we are looking at the pivotal role of outhalf and asking for your selection choices.

Head coach Warren Gatland will name his playing squad, expected to be 35 men, at 11am on Tuesday morning. The New Zealander was in Montpelier yesterday to watch Clermont hold off a brave Munster side, with Ronan O’Gara putting in a classic outhalf’s display of clever tactical and grubber kicks.

O’Gara, having been jettisoned from the Ireland squad earlier in the year, is not expected to travel on his fourth Lions tour [his first was in Oz back in 2001]. Ireland should have one outhalf on the plane this summer as Jonathan Sexton, before his assured comeback from injury, was surely inked onto Gatland’s list as soon as he was announced as coach in 2012.

Neil Jenkins, newly added to the Lions coaching backroom, was at the RDS yesterday afternoon to witness a solid place-kicking display [just one missed] and the scything backline play that marks Sexton out as one of the best 10′s of his generation. The Dubliner also crossed for a try and played a couple of deft one-two passes with Isa Nacewa that set the winger up for a fine try.

We will get to see the other likely lads, England’s Owen Farrell, in Heineken Cup semi-final action for Saracens this afternoon at Twickenham. There may have been rumblings of unrests when Farrell was nominated for IRB World Player of the Year 2012 but Andy Farrell’s talented son has backed it up with a slew of matchwinning displays for club and country. He was immense in England’s 12-6 win over Ireland at the Aviva Stadium during a Six Nations that almost led to a Grand Slam but ended in a heavy defeat to Wales. He is in direct opposition with Toulon’s Johnny Wilkinson, who may yet force the issue with another ‘Wilkinson display [drop goals and strong tackling] today.

Dan Biggar, who featured for Wales that day but ceded the kicking tee to Leigh Halfpenny, had a solid Six Nations and excelled against France and Scotland. With Halfpenny a solid kicking option Down Under, he will be hoping for inclusion in the squad. James Hook has done well for Perpignan but has been on the Welsh fringes all season and is an outside bet at best.

Scotland’s hopes for a travelling outhalf look dim. Duncan Weir is out of the picture following an unfortunate leg break while Ruairidh Jackson lacks the dynamism and high kick conversion to merit selection.

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There will undoubtedly be surprises in Gatland’s squad on Tuesday and one of them may be a young man that has proved himself at fullback and outhalf this year, is the Pro12′s top points scorer, showed no fear on his first international outings and stepped up at inside centre yesterday. Ian Madigan could yet light up Australia.

What do you think? Who should Warren Gatland select as his out-halves?

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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