sport news JAMIE ROBERTS: Alun Wyn Jones comes straight back into my Lions side against ...

sport news JAMIE ROBERTS: Alun Wyn Jones comes straight back into my Lions side against ...
sport news JAMIE ROBERTS: Alun Wyn Jones comes straight back into my Lions side against ...

With less than a week until Warren Gatland unveils his first-Test side, this is the most competitive Lions selection ever.

The coaches’ meeting could be five hours long! However, Warren is no man for sentiment, which may help when agonising over several toss-up calls.

It is not just who are the best individuals, it is about what you need to beat South Africa.

So with that in mind, here are my thoughts on who makes the team.

The British and Irish Lions are now preparing for their first Test against South Africa on July 24

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The British and Irish Lions are now preparing for their first Test against South Africa on July 24

Coach Warren Gatland will already be thinking ahead to the Sprinboks clash in Cape Town

Coach Warren Gatland will already be thinking ahead to the Sprinboks clash in Cape Town

BACK THREE

Josh Adams has scored an outrageous eight tries so far, is in peak physical condition and has to play. Aerial skills are non-negotiable against the Boks, so Adams is nailed on.

Duhan van der Merwe is 90 per cent there with a small question mark around him defensively — I worry a little if he comes up against Cheslin Kolbe. But what he offers as a ball-carrier is arguably more important. He can cause chaos as the focal point of the Lions attack.

Between Anthony Watson, Liam Williams and Stuart Hogg, the in-form player is Watson. You have to make space for him at full back.

Williams has a concussion, which takes at least six days to return from, and Hogg might light up on Saturday after returning from isolation but I think Adams, Van der Merwe and Watson have played the best so far.

Louis Rees-Zammit has been immense for his age but I feel with what’s required against South Africa defensively and aerially, the others shade him.

Josh Adams is in magnificent form having already scored eight tries on the tour so far

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Josh Adams is in magnificent form having already scored eight tries on the tour so far

MIDFIELD

This axis is the most challenging call. No one player has said, ‘This jersey is mine.’

Chris Harris has stood out. Defensively he is strong, has carried and distributed well, he’s quick, intelligent and can cause the Springboks problems. He is my outside centre, in a toss-up between him and Elliot Daly. Robbie Henshaw is back against the Stormers tomorrow after a hamstring injury and it’s a big game for him. If he goes well, he starts at 12.

I don’t think Owen Farrell and Daly combine, nor Harris and Daly, as you need a ball carrier. Warren likes that.

Farrell would have been disappointed with his performance against South Africa A. He’s not quite at the top of his game at present. Bundee Aki didn’t get the momentum he would have wanted, either, and slipped off a few tackles.

However, there is no place in the starting line-up for Owen Farrell who appears off his game

However, there is no place in the starting line-up for Owen Farrell who appears off his game

HALF-BACKS

Dan Biggar

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