Civil War – A Battle of the Lion’s second row

As the season rumbles on, more and more players are putting their hat into the ring for the Lions squad places; such as Elliot Daly, who at the weekend made his first start England and made a quality performance in the 37-21 victory against the ‘Boks. But it is not only a matter of injury or giving players a chance, but the fact that Britain’s national squads are consistently rock solid throughout that has brought the battle for positions in the Lions squad, and I think we can all agree that the second row of this diverse squad is no different, with strong performances and changes being no stranger to the second row.

Now let’s have a look at who is contending for a permanent spot in the Lions’ 2017 second row…

 

launchbury

Full name – Joseph Oliver Launchbury
Born – April 12, 1991, Exeter
Current age – 25 years 216 days
Major teams – England Under-20s, Wasps, England
Position – Lock
Height – 6 ft 6 in
Weight – 253 lb
Joe is a promising young talent with experience to spare already with his club career at Wasps, where he is just as comfortable playing in the second and back row. In his career at Wasps, he played a vital part in their 2012 survival in the Premiership. This then led to him being noticed by the senior England squad; taking him to England’s tour of South Africa, where he played the weekday games. Fast forwarding to the 2012 test series, Launchbury made the fold, making his first start against Australia and later playing key outstanding performances against South Africa and the All Blacks.
With a strong versatile style of play, will Launchbury be the man to hold the second row in the 2017 Lions tour…
lawesFull name – Courtney Linford Lawes
Born – February 23, 1989, Hackney
Current age – 27 years 265 days
Major teams – Northampton Saints, England
Position – Lock
Height -6 ft 7 in
Weight 249 lb
With Lawes having been around the international scene since his opener against Australia back in 2009, he is the image of experience, which is definitely something you want with a consistent starter for the Lions. From a young age Lawes was set for Rugby stardom, being promoted to the senior Elite Players Squad following his challenge cup title for the Saints. Although, Courtney has always been dragged down by injury, making his England place sceptical, which was later taken over by Joe Launchbury.
But will Lawes be able to up his game again and come back to full fitness for the Lions tour, making the second row as strong as ever…
maroFull name – Oghenemaro Miles Itoje
Born – October 28, 1994, Camden
Current age – 22 years
Major teams – England Saxons, England Under-20s, Saracens, England
Position – Lock, Back-row
Height – 6 ft 6 in
Weight – 242 lb
Maro began his Rugby career at Saracens, making his debut in the 2013-14 season at just the age of 19, making him another very promising British Rugby talent. He debuted against Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and also got his Premiership start later that season, showing the Saracens’ boss’ confidence in the young man. Just this year Itoje led Saracens to the European Champions Cup final where he in fact picked up the man of the match award, proving he’s ready to run with the big dogs.
Let’s see if this young lad can make the cut for the tour, maybe Warren Gatland will see it right to give the lad a chance…
dillaneFull name – Ultan Dillane
Born – November 9, 1993, Paris
Current age – 23 years
Major teams – Connacht, Ireland
Position – Lock
Height – 6 ft 6 in
Weight – 253 lb
Ultan was originally from France, with one Irish parent (mother) and one from the Ivory Coast (father); Dillane moved back to Ireland when he was a child to his Mother’s home province, from there his love for Rugby grew and he was in fact a big part in the set up of the youth at his local club Munster. He left Munster after a few years to join the only team the Ireland international has played for on club level; Connacht, where he plays until this date. Although his club career isn’t too mad, he has already racked up seven appearances for Ireland at a young age, starting one and being used form the bench six times, showing Lions and Ireland fans alike he is a trustworthy member of the squad.
Will this up and coming lad be able to brake through to the squad and begin to establish his Lions career…
grayFull name – Jonathan Douglas Gray
Born – March 14, 1994, Glasgow
Current age – 22 years
Major teams – Glasgow, Scotland A, Scotland Under-20s, Scotland
Position – Lock
Height – 6 ft 6 in
Weight – 262 lb
If there is one thing that Gray isn’t lacking on as a youngster, it is experience, with him having played a total of 26 test matches and 22 starts for Scotland since his career began, so if you’re worried about nervous legs on the pitch, Gray can definitely boost your confidence in that Lions second row! Jonny has impressed the Scottish national team so much that he actually started in every 2015 6 nations match, and this a prime example of why… he attempted a massive 85 tackles and only missed ONE!!
Do we hope to see Gray in our Lions second row? Let’s see if he can follow his Brother into the potential line-up…
iainFull name – William Iain Henderson
Born – February 21, 1992, Craigavon, Northern Ireland
Current age – 24 years
Major teams – Ireland A, Ireland Under-20s, Munster, Ulster, Ireland, Ireland XV
Position – Lock
Height – 6 ft 5 in
Weight – 246 lb
The Ulster Flanker had his first international call up for the Autumn Internationals back in 2012, putting smiles on Irish faces with confident and promising performances from the youngster. Being an Ulster key player with 53 caps, will he be able to show Warren Gatland and the Lions backroom team and make his way to the 2017 tour.
Let’s see if this young talent can push himself into the squad of British greats…
devin-tonerFull name – Devin Toner
Born – June 29, 1986, Moynalvey, Co Meath
Current age – 30 years
Major teams – Edinburgh, Ireland A, Leinster, Ireland
Position – Lock
Height – 6 ft 11 in
Weight – 264 lb

Toner plays for Leinster and is one of the most experienced players in the team, providing a strong back bone to their second-row. Toner went to Castleknock College in Dublin before becoming a professional with Leinster, making his debut in 2005. The second-row is the tallest player in the Heineken Cup at 6ft 11in, that’s pretty handy for the second-row! He played three times for Ireland A in 2009 before being named in Ireland’s starting XV to win his first cap against Samoa in November 2010. His size and gradual involvement within the club and international Rugby scenes shows Lions fans that he is definitely ready and raring to go to give the squad a strong and consistent look.

Will Gatland go with the raw size and power to control his second row…

alun
Full name – Alun Wyn Jones
Born – September 19, 1985, Swansea
Current age – 31 years
Major teams – British and Irish Lions, Leinster, Ospreys, Welsh Probables, Wales
Position – Lock
Height – 6 ft 6 in
Weight – 268 lb
Jones has had a more than memorable career, with much more to come! Making his test debut for Wales back in 2006 and gaining 109 caps for his country all together, giving a saving saint to Wales in the second row. Although, will the boss see it fit that he displays his talent for the Lions tour in New Zealand next year.
Only time will tell who will do their job in the second row next year, and Jones is hoping he’s part of the plan…
Warren Gatland will have some hard choices to make before next year comes around, especially with the great established and up and coming talent which Britain as a whole has to offer. Will Gatland go for some fresh legs to keep their opponents guessing; will it be experience that will show up for the Lions; or will it in fact be a mix of both, displaying the best of both worlds for the Lions, we will soon see!
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