Sir Ian McGeechan's latest Lions XV

Sir Ian McGeechan's latest Lions XV

Sir Ian McGeechan has picked the British & Irish Lions team he thinks should take the field against the World Champion Springboks in the upcoming three test series. 


On Saturday evening, the Lions crushed the Sharks for the second time that week after the latter were very competitive in the first half but were forced to play almost all of the second with 14 men.  


McGeechan has picked several teams in the lead-up to the tests and nearly all have looked somewhat unorthodox compared to the mainstream thought, and this latest one is no different as the former Lions player and coach has left out some big names. 


Speaking on Sky Sports, McGeechan began with the loose forwards: 


"I think Tom Curry probably needs another start to really get involved, we haven't really seen him come through yet. 


"Hamish Watson has played consistently well, and Tadhg Beirne edges it at six for me. You need a big six because you have to get pressure on the set-piece, on the lineout. 


"I think we have more to see from Faletau, but with two new Test Lions in the back-row, having an experienced player who has drawn and won a series before is important." 


With regard to the tight five, he said: 


"Forwards wise, I just think you need the technical expertise first and foremost.

"You've got to get the set piece right. I think Sutherland has gone well, Jamie George has been consistent and his lineout throwing is the best of anyone I believe, and that has to be right.

"Tadhg Furlong is quite simply, to me, a world class tighthead, so he is going to be so important to the Lions in their set-piece but also around the field.

"I think Henderson is coming through really well, he's impressed me in his game involvement and he's got the experience. Itoje is a big-match player, and again is skilful.


McGeechan then turned his attention to the backs:


"Dan Biggar is the form 10. He is a competitor, you see that in his attitude. And he's the one that has the ability to draw out and adapt, attacking at different points.

"Owen Farrell is a Test match animal. I wouldn't go far without him to be honest. And having him gives you that second decision-maker and somebody to step in between the two of them.

"If you've got those two [Biggar, Farrell] in, you do need a big runner and good defensive player at 13. Harris is a very good defensive player. He's a defensive captain, knows Steve Tandy well, knows the systems and did very well for Scotland.

"And then I have three players in the back [Adams, Watson, Liam Williams] who on any counter-attack or under high balls - which I think will happen a lot, South Africa tactically kicking from nine and 10 in the first Test - are solid."

McGeechan’s team: 


15 Liam Williams,  

14 Anthony Watson 

13 Chris Harris 

12 Owen Farrell 

11 Josh Adams 

10 Dan Biggar 

9 Conor Murray (capt) 

1 Rory Sutherland 

2 Jamie George 

3 Tadhg Furlong 

4 Maro Itoje 

5 Iain Henderson 

6 Tadhg Beirne 

7 Hamish Watson 

8 Taulupe Faletau 


Most interesting is that McGeechan opted to leave out the robust Irish centre Robbie Henshaw and Scottish full back Stuart Hogg. 


Owen Farrell was tactically sublime against the Sigma Lions not long ago and, many feel, actually used the game to play himself into the test team.  


It will be interesting to see how closely Warren Gatland’s final choice resembles his old mentor’s. 

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