It’s one of the hottest debate topics egg-chasing has to offer.
Given we live in something of a green goldfish bowl on these Irish shores, there’s no harm getting input from elsewhere.
And so we have the HarpinOnRugby Lions Selector Panel, made up of one fan from each nation, with even the Irish panellist based abroad.
They have each already given their preseason selections, time to start basing them on this season’s form. However, since there has only been one week to go on, English panellist Rich Church-Keen is using his turn to look at replacements & possible captains.
[Edit – a lot has happened since I wrote this post…we’ll just ignore the Gloucester result shall we and I will give my thoughts on the Gatland appointment and the French clubs’ hold over players the next time my turn comes around!]
Well, rugby kicked off last weekend with a record breaking Gloucester win (I hope. I am writing this 90mins before kick off for a blog that will run next Friday!) and the new season will be upon us at last!
The fact that the season has yet to begin means I will be making NO changes to my starting XV. If I left it there, it'd be a boring blog, hey! So I'll discuss my bench, and my skipper! First I'll remind you of how I would field my starting XV.
15. Leigh Halfpenny - Wales
14. Tommy Bowe - Ireland
13. Brian O'Driscoll - Ireland
12. Jonathon Davies - Wales
11. George North - Wales
10. Owen Farrell - England
9. Mike Phillips - Wales
8. Jamie Heaslip - Ireland
7. Sam Warburton - Wales
6. Sean O'Brien - Ireland
5. Paul O'Connell - Ireland
4. Richie Gray - Scotland
3. Dan Cole - England
2. Ross Ford - Scotland
1. Gethin Jenkins – Wales
I'm not sure if the Lions tour will involve the 7 or 8 man bench, so I will stick to the current international standard of a 7 man bench.
16 - Dylan Hartley – England - Dylan is Marmite. He's certainly a feisty little sod and that kind of aggressiveness may be needed against the likes of Stephen Moore!
17- Cian Healy- Ireland - Same reasons as Dylan. Aggressive in the loose and a very capable scrummager.
18 - Donncha O'Callahan - Ireland The second best second row for Munster and Ireland, but no shame in that behind PO'C! Cool head, tough competitor. Toss up between Wyn Jones and him, but DO'C gets the nod for me!
19 - Dan Lydiate- Wales - I have a feeling Lydiate will be a starting Lion by the end of the season. Big hitter...no... HUGE hitter, consistent and a somewhat under the radar player. Could prove a key man.
20 - Ben Youngs- England - Terrifying when used as an impact player in the last 20 mins, his sniping ability and pure pace against tired legs, plus he's Phillips polar opposite, style wise, would put defence on back foot late on.
Now, sense would tell me that this next space should be Sexton or Priestland.....but, I will go for
21 - James Hook- Wales - His goal kicking and ability to play in multiple positions makes him the perfect substitute!
With Hook on the bench, the last place would be tailor made for a wing specialist...
22 - Chris Ashton- England - Another that would be unplayable against tired legs. and another who is a Marmite player. JUST takes the spot from Alex Cuthbert, but with Ashton’s worrying dip in form last season, this is another that could easily change!
My skipper would be Brian O'Driscoll, with vice captain going to Warburton or O'Connell. BO'D has been a magnificent player for a decade or more, and with relatively young players around him in the backs, I'd be looking for him to lead by example.
My next blog should be a few weeks into the action, so hopefully I'll be able to shuffle my players and see who looks like they may be in for a good season! I'll be looking to see if any more of the Scottish boys can force their way in to the side, especially as they have short numbers at the moment!!!
My name is Richard Church-Keen, born in Coventry, live in Dudley, yet by God's grace, I'm a diehard Gloucester Rugby and also an England rugby fan (and yes, in that order.) I'm a rugby mad husband to a rugby mad wife with a rugby mad stepson and indeed, rugby has taken over every facet of my life. I am a chef by day, and #RugbyUnited’s charity director and blogger in chief by night. Oh. And a twitter addict (@RichC_K)!!!
Thanks Rich! This of course means the HoR Lions Composite XV remains unchanged as well. Next week it’s the turn of our Welsh panellist Hywel Davies (@HywelV2) to tell us if he has seen anything to change from his preseason selection.