Gatty’s bed is made, now he must Lion it* – but technique will always beat force, says Keego…
I was going to give you the summer off from my insane rugby ramblings.
I thought you may need some time to recharge the nonsense batteries, but then it happened. Yesterday morning mad Gatty did it. He finally crossed that barrier that we all thought he would never cross. He went and picked THAT team for the deciding test against Australia.
I am going to try and keep the green jersey off and be objective about this.
I thought I would break it down into a few different parts, just to keep the ramble to a minimum.
Firstly, the leaving out of the match day squad of Brian O’Driscoll. Even with the green jersey safely tucked away into the wardrobe; this is a call that beggars belief. If a team is picked on form and the stats are being looked at then Drico is in the team. He missed zero (ZERO) tackles in the last test. The only glimpses of inventiveness during the tests so far have come from him. The logical thing to do would be to make him captain from 13. But as we all know, using logic and Gatland in the one sentence doesn’t fit well. Picking Davies instead of O’Driscoll after missing 3 important tackles, 1 of which cost the Lions the match is crazy. Davies is dwarfed in terms of skill and tackling by O’Driscoll. If you ask Jamie Roberts who he would rather play with, we all know that answer. At least O’Driscoll got shown the respect of being talked to about the decision before the announcement. Something that Kidney never gave him.
Secondly, the leaving out of Jamie Heaslip from the match day squad. If you take it as read that Gatland wants to try and pulverize the wallabies with a monster team selection, leaving Heaslip in his suit is another mad call from a mad man. Look at the stats, look at the form being shown at the business end of the season, look at the lack of leaders on the pitch and you really can’t leave him out of the squad. He has been a tackling and carrying demon on the tour and has been in a better vein of form than he was in 2009. He has led his national team as well as his province but is still left out. Wynne Jones is picked as captain, even though he has minimal experience (one) of captaining his national side.
Thirdly, and lastly, the obvious game plan that Gatland and his team look to be going with on Saturday. Warren G (not the rapper, although he might pick a more sensible team) has picked the biggest team he can. The only stat he has looked at is the kg’s. It appears that he wants to try and batter the wallabies. After all this time plotting and planning, this is the best plan he can come up with. It is obvious he is rattled because he and his Welsh management team have picked 10 Welsh in the starting 15. This is not about national allegiances; this is about a coach who is under pressure. When we, as civilians, have our backs against the wall, or we feel out of our depth, we always revert to type. This is why 10 Welsh are in the starting 15. These are the players he feels he can trust. Even though Mike Phillips has been very much out of form and Roberts is coming off an injury, he is still picking them. Murray looked to be the best 9 of the tour so far last week, the only plus for him is that he is on the bench. Davies looked to be out of his depth last week, but he is picked ahead of the only proven leader left in the squad.
At the end of the day, in any kind of conflict, technique will always beat force. The Wallabies are not a great team; they are being made look like one by a rudderless Lions team and a coach who is frightened on the biggest stage he has ever been on. Barring some individual genius, such as the genius shown by George north in test 1, the Lions will struggle hugely to dent the wallabies, let alone win. The Wallabies already addressed the North issue in test 2.
Warren Gatland is killing the franchise that is the Lions. He decided to bring his Welsh coaching staff instead of sprinkling in some other top coaches such as Joe Schmidt. The Lions board are getting exactly what they deserve.
As usual, if you would like to debate / abuse / discuss the above with me then feel free to tweet me @nkeegan. And for more of the same head on over to www.thedailyclothesline.com
Until next time….
Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, former professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.
* = the editor takes full responsibility for that shocking pun.