Sport

Sam Marsh: My Lions 15

Sam Marsh picks the 23 names he feels deserve to be in the squad for the first match against New Zealand.

With the lion’s tour coming up in only a few weeks we turn to fantasy selection. With Andrew Baxter giving us his 15 it is now my turn to give my fantasy 15, plus replacements.

15 Stuart Hogg: Hoggy had an outstanding 6 nations and is probably the first name on the team sheet, and if he isn’t then there is something wrong with the management.

14 George North: Even if he plays poor he will be selected, a proven try scorer and can score even when he plays badly. A physical player which is needed against the likes of Julian Savea

13 Jonathan Joseph: Hard hitting centre, a proven try scorer and a player I rate highly, the Calcutta Cup showed that if he has the right centre partner and a good scrum half then he will be effective.

12 Owen Farrell: My choice for kicker, I find myself liking him more as a centre than a flyhalf. Decent in defence but lethal in attack. A good 6 nations which saw him lead the England side at several points when Dylan Hartley was taken off.

11 Jack Nowell: I’m not his biggest fan but have to concede he is a good player, tricky for defences to deal with. Which is something the Lions will need when taking on the All Blacks.

10 Jonny Sexton: One of the best 10’s in the world right now and rightly deserves a place in the starting 15. If he can keep injury free he will be a major part of the Lions plan for success.

9 Connor Murray: Again, one of the first names on the team sheet, probably the best scrumhalf in the northern hemisphere. Had a great 6 nations and fully deserves his place on the trip.

1 Jack Mcgrath: The Irish prop had a good tournament and his selection chances are bolstered by the fact that there are not many other loose heads god enough for a lion’s starting place.

2 Rory Best ©: My choice for captain, has the stamina to play most of the match and is on good form heading into the tour.

3 Tadgh Furlong: Completing the all Irish front row Tadgh had a good championship and was a standout in the scrum, stocky and powerful is what the lions need when the game breakdown.

4 Jonny Grey: The tackling machine must start for me in what will be a young second row pairing. Dependable is what the Lions need and the younger Grey brother is that and more.

5 Maro Itoje: England’s breakthrough player of the tournament can play as a lock or in the back row, but he is a breakdown machine and I feel a pairing with Grey would help give the Lions the edge over their foes.

6 CJ Stander: If Hoggy was the first name of the team sheet, Stander is a close second. He showed he was an absolute beast in most of the matches in the 6 nations especially with his performance against Italy. Brilliant in the breakdown and a good ball carrier he shows all the traits of the quality back rower.

7 James Haskell: Had a bit of a resurgence recently and as such, I feel he has earned his way into the starting 15. Solid and dependable, he’s the type of players that the lions will need against the Kiwis.

8 Billy Vunipola: He’s a beast who is an exceptional ball carrier. Will create gaps in defences as it takes several men to take him down. A shoe in for a start.

My replacements; 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Tauluape Faletau, 21, Dan Biggar, 22 Johnathan Davis, 23 Tommy Seymour

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