With the 6 Nations done and dusted, the eyes of the rugby world are now turning towards the imminent tour of Australia by the Lions. Aussie coach Robbie Deans will no doubt be running a microscope over the 6 nations in an attempt to predict the Lions line-up and come up with a game plan that will see the mighty Wallabies repeat the success of 2001.
Here are the top 5 players that will be giving us Aussies some sleepless nights as the matches approach.
Even though he didn’t start the opening game of the 6 Nations – he was seen by some as an impact sub – Tuilagi was undoubtedly the best outside centre in the tournament. He put in perhaps the performance of the tournament as England beat France, and his power and energy constantly buoyed the English team. While the Wallabies know he can be countered – just see how the Welsh handled him – his constant menace to the opposition will have the opposition fearing both broken bones and leaked tries.
Another player with roots in the South Pacific, Faletau put in a series of performance for Wales at Number Eight to propel them towards 6 Nations glory. His ball carrying (63 metres in total) kept Welsh moves alive and always kept them heading towards the danger zone, while his constant try scoring threat was apparent for all to see. When you consider that Faletau is still only 22 years old, it is clearly apparent that Wales have unearthed a real gem.
Halfpenny is possibly only one of half a dozen players to already have his ticket to Australia booked, so impressive has he been for Wales in recent times. He would form an integral part of any back three in the world, plus his kicking has become as accurate as almost any other player in the Test arena. His ability to take the high ball, and therefore regain possession for his team, is unbelievable, plus his tackling is immense – amazingly he has gone nearly two years without missing a tackle in the 6 Nations.
The debate rumbles on as to whether Robshaw will be named captain of the Lions squad this year – the only other candidate seems to be O’Driscoll – but his performances on the field more than merit his place on the plane, even if he doesn’t get the armband. He put in 65 tackles during the 6 Nations, plus carried the ball 57 metres, and he also picked up two man of the match awards in five games. The open side flanker position is one packed with ability for the Lions though, so whether Robshaw plays, or whether it is Tipuric, O’Brien or Warburton, the Wallabies will have a problem on their hands.
In the loose-head prop position, no other player managed to carry the ball further than Healy throughout the tournament. When this is coupled with his immense strength in the tackle, he could be considered the perfect player to assist with foiling Australia’s attacking intentions. His stamp on Dan Cole could go against him though, but if he does get on the plane he will be an integral part of the Lions set-up.
Article written by our Australian correspondent Ilan Hurwitz. Ilan runs the Australian web site Football Jerseys Online where he provides soccer and rugby fans in Australia with Jerseys from the most popular teams including the British & Irish Lions and Qantas Wallabies.