The destructive loosehead is in fine form for French Top 14 leaders Toulon this season, keeping fellow contender Gethin Jenkins out of the starting line-up. His vast experience and scrimmaging technique makes him an ideal option for taking on the Wallaby’s up-front.
Although not having his strongest season domestically as indicated by re-signing for the Blues, a return to form during the 6 nations sees him squeeze in just ahead of a number of other contenders.
Despite an early, controversial end to his 6 nations campaign for a stamp on England’s Dan Cole Healy still remains one of the best looseheads in the northern hemisphere. Strong ball carrying and scrimmaging couple with a fantastic work rate in defence books him his seat on the plane.
The Welshman had an outstanding 6 nations campaign carrying strongly and making big tackles. It seems he has finally fulfilled his potential and is a strong contender for a starting berth in the first test.
The young hooker has now well and truly stolen the number 2 shirt from Dylan Hartley after an impressive series of debut games for England. Maybe lacks experience for a test start but his ball carrying could make him a strong impact substitute.
Despite not having the most impressive of campaigns during the 6 nations, this appeared to be more down to a collective failure than any individuals. Best has bags of experience and on his day is an impressive hooker and therefore books a seat on the plane.
Many fans shoe-in for the starting berth at tight-head until England’s defeat to Wales in the final game of the 6 nations. Despite this Cole is still a force to be reckoned with and has proven himself in recent weeks for Leicester.
What else can you say about Adam Jones. Showed his real world-class ability has he demolished the England scrum during the 6 nations. Back to his best after a slight slump on his return from injury, his experience will be a great asset against the Aussie scrum.
Murray continues to prove himself as a world-class scrummager and provides great cover for Jones and Cole to help dominate the Aussie scrum.
The Scotland lock had a fantastic six nations, strong in defence and a nuisance at the set-piece he was key in the win over Ireland. If he can get back to full fitness in time for the tour then should be on the plane based on current form
The return of Jones to Wales’s six nations squad seemed to galvanise the forwards. A great leader on the pitch who also offers a great line-out option. Barring any injury or loss of form a nailed on started for The Lions on this summer’s tour.
Ireland badly missed the presence of O’Connell during their recent international fixtures. His leadership and experience at this level will be a great boost to the Lions on the summer tour.
Despite a disappointing run of international results for Wales outside of the six nations, Ian Evans has remained a stalwart of the squad. Even though he came relatively late to the international scene Evans impact is always noticeable and should be involved with the mid-week team at the very least.
Despite recent revelations about a onesie Robshaw never fails to give his all when on the pitch. A key component of Lancaster’s England revival who is becoming a regular winner of man of the match awards. The only issue now is whether to play him at 6 or 7, however, options are never a bad thing on a Lions tour.
Tipuric has eased himself into the Wales number 7 shirt in the last couple of months ousting touted Lions captain Sam Warburton. Tipuric has shown himself to be more than just a good tackler and breakdown specialist with some impressive runs and off-loads being key to Wales’ 6 nations triump.
Despite losing the Wales captaincy and being dropped from the team during the 6 nations, Warburton came back strong and has shown a partnership between him and Tipuric works really well. This could make for a great combo for the Lions.
Despite a neck break last season, Croft has come back stronger than ever with strong performances for England at the end of the six nations and some fantastic turn-outs for Leicester. Croft really is back to his best and with his speed and ball carrying ability makes him a potent weapon for the Lions.
Faletau has really made the number 8 shirt his own for Wales in the last two years and looks set to do the same with the Lions. One of the key issues is a lack of genuine options in this position but of all the contenders Faletau looks the strongest.
If anything Heaslip’s Lions credentials slipper during the six nations this year with a series of average performances as captain of Ireland. However, his class is obvious for all to see when at his best and with this he brings a great deal of experience.
Youngs seems to have finally settled the debate over who England’s first choice scrum half is. Great tactical kicking, vision and running make Youngs a strong contender to start the first test of the series.
Until recently Phillips seemed to be slipping off the Lions radar, however, a series of top-draw performances for Wales in the six nations has once again thrown him into contention for a place on the plane.
Laidlaw seems to have finally settled into the scrum-half position after floating between the half-back slots in recent years. A strong six nations with some brilliant kicking performances helped lead Scotland to a top 3 finish for the first time in years. His ability to play fly-half means he slips in just ahead of Danny Care.
There seems to be a real dearth of top quality fly-halves in the Northern hemisphere currently, however, when at his best Sexton is right up there as proven by Racing Metro making him the top paid player in France next season.
With a lack of genuine option at ten for this summer’s tour, Wilkinson’s sparkling form for Toulon and experience in high pressure situations makes him ideal for the tour. He may not be the guaranteed starter he once was but if in need of 3 points at the end of a test there’s nobody else we would rather see taking the kick.
Despite seeming to lose his notorious cool during England’s defeat to Wales in the final game of the six nations, Farrell has been a key component of England’s recent revival in fortunes. His cool kicking and ability to also cover the centre channels makes him ideal to take as a mid-week player who can cover the bench during the tests.
Seemingly unstoppable when on the rampage Tuilagi has proven himself to be one of the stand-out centres in the world. Still only 21 this could be the first of many tours for the Samoan born centre. Recent try-scoring displays for Leicester have also begun to show a subtler side to his game that can be harnessed to take on the Australian backline.
What more can we say that has already been said about the legend that is Brian O’Driscoll. What a fitting way it would be for captain fantastic to retire from professional rugby than to go out off the back of a Lions series win.
Roberts has recently agreed a move to France and completed his medical degree, however, all whilst winning another 6 nations tournament with Wales. However, the celebrations shouldn’t stop there as the bulldozing centre should be set for a trip to Australia this summer with the Lions.
Despite being a relative new-comer to union and still yet to win his first cap, Tomkins off-loading game has been key to Sarries recent try-scoring form and should therefore go with the Lions as a wild-card option who can help match the Aussies ball-playing ability.
Luke Marshall burst onto the international scene in this year’s six nations campaign, playing a fantastic brand of running rugby. Marshall could prove to be the perfect foil for a battering ram style centre such as Tuilagi and help add another string to the Lions bow.
North seems to have been around forever with 31 caps for Wales and counting, however, it is hard to believe he is still just 21. Despite not having a stand-out six nations North has been involved with a lot of what Wales have done well in recent years and brings a real try-scoring threat to the Lions.
Seemingly for the first time since playing together Cuthbert outshone North in this year’s six nations tournament and announced himself as the genuine successor to the Welsh Wizard Shane Williams. Finishing as the tournament’s top try scorer Cuthbert is a must for the Lions selectors.
Another wild card option for the Lions, Wade has been in scintillating form for Wasps this season scoring tries out of nothing. His electric pace and ability to find space when there is seemingly nowhere to go make him ideal for competing on the hard ground in Australia.
Another exciting flyer who gets bums off seats. Zebo made an instant impact for Ireland this year before suffering an unfortunate injury. Whilst most will remember him for his magical piece of skill to kick the ball from behind him, he provided Ireland with a genuine threat down the wing.
The final berth on the wing was a tough choice and could easily have gone to a number of players but the Flying Dutchman takes it for his try scoring exploits. Key to Scotland’s performances in this year’s six nations, he also made an instant mark on his international debut with a try scoring effort in last summer’s tour.
This year’s 6 nations player of the tournament, unfazed under the high ball, impregnable in defence and calm as you like kicking, Halfpenny is a shoe-in for the starting slot in the Lions. A truly world-class player who can mix it with the best in the world.
Hogg has seemingly come out of nowhere for Scotland in the last year or so but looks to be here for some time. A strong boot and quick as you like, he offers a nice alternative to Halfpenny with his running ability and goes ahead of several other high profile players like Kearney, Brown, Goode and Foden.
This has been a nearly impossible task with so many great players missing out, however, I believe this squad offers the best possible options for taking on the Aussies and combines raw skill and pace with calm, experience heads. Have your say and let us know who you would take…