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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Open thread: Who do you want as your Lions scrum-half?

Wales’ Mike Phillips looks a certainty to start against the Wallabies but he will need some back-up.

Mike Phillips (right) studies Conor Murray closely.
Mike Phillips (right) studies Conor Murray closely.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

WE ARE NOW five days away from the official announcement of the British and Irish Lions squad that will travel to Australia this summer to take on the Wallabies.

Head coach Warren Gatland will name at 35-man squad in London next Tuesday morning and supporters of the four home nations will hope for the inclusion of as many countrymen as possible. After the squad is named, we’re all in this together.

We have previously asked for your selection shouts for front row, locks and back row. Today, we turn our attention to scrum-halves. Whoever Gatland selects will be up against a man the Kiwi calls ‘the best nine in the world’, Will Genia.

In 2009, Ian McGeechan selected three scrum-halves for the 2009 tour to South Africa – Mike Phillips, Harry Ellis and Mike Blair [a replacement for the injured Tomás O'Leary].

The unbackable favourite to travel again this time, and start the First Test in Brisbane, is Wales’ Mike Phillips. Plying his Top 14 trade with Bayonne, Phillips excelled for his country in the Six Nations and the extended French league will not affect his selection chances. Bayonne are currently 10th and have no hope of making the end of season shake-up.

With Eoin Reddan still recovering from a horrific leg injury picked up against France, Ireland’s sole selection hope comes from Munster’s Conor Murray. The Limerick man’s box-kicking has improved markedly this season and while still guilty of occasional ponderousness in distribution, he has added an extra attacking element in games. He is taking off on snipes and taking part in backline moves, leading to six tries for Munster and Ireland in the past 12 months.

Scotland’s best bet is Greig Laidlaw. The Edinburgh player has a great chance of travelling as he is a reliable kicker, booting 149 points from the tee in 18 international games. He held his nerve in Australia last summer to kick all three penalties in a 9-6 win over the Wallabies.

English supporters, as is their prerogative, want both Ben Youngs and Danny Care to travel Down Under. Youngs [23] has made 33 caps for England and was on course for a spot on the plane until he struggled behind a pack that caved in against the Welsh at the Millennium Stadium.

Danny Care has been backed strongly by his boss at Harlequins, Conor O’Shea, and is one of the six nominees for the Aviva Premiership Player of the Year. He has 41 English caps but has only started 19 games.

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

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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