Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Lions Squad: Why is the main story Jonny Wilkinson ?

The Lions squad threw up little surprises after the comprehensive defeat of Wales in the final match of the six nations. The largest contingent was always going to come from Wales  followed by England.

Maybe the exclusion of England Captain Chris Robshaw and the exclusion of Irish hooker Rory Best was a shock and Scotland probably deserved to see more than three players on tour.

But for the London media the big story was that Jonny Wilkinson will not touring with the British and Irish Lions.

I turned to teletext just after 1am to find the squad after being frustrated that the BBC roiling news had not gone live .

But all I got for ages, was the announcement that Wilkinson who had not figured in the English side was omitted .

Only later it emerged that he had ruled himself out.

 Gatland said: 

I asked Jonny if he could tour and he said he wasn’t available.
“I wouldn’t have made the phone call if it wasn’t to offer him a place on the tour.
“I told him that we wanted ­everyone on the tour to be on the plane to Hong Kong. He couldn’t make that commitment because he’s committed to Toulon.
“He appreciated the call but he said he’s struggling with his body and managing himself week to week. I think physically he would struggle to do a tour.
“He was honest about himself and said, ‘I’m hanging on with my fingernails here at the moment and I probably need ­another operation’.”
Quite frankly I find with Sexton and Farrell the first choice for Ireland and England respectively. I would have thought Gatland would have taken a utility back like James Hook (but not necessarily hum) rather than a third fly half anyway.  

Mind you if any of the two are injured it might be easier for Gatland to contact the Welsh side touring Japan for any replacement.

We all would have picked a different squad but on balance Gatland got it about right . Its a pity the BBC and the rest of the media led with the story of the absence  of Wilkinson ( who I regard as one of the great Fly halves).  Who was not available any way,

Lions squad for 2013 tour

Backs: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Rob Kearney (Ireland), Tommy Bowe (Ireland), Alex Cuthbert (Wales), Sean Maitland (Scotland), George North (Wales), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Wales), Manu Tuilagi (England), Owen Farrell (England), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales), Ben Youngs (England).
Forwards: Dan Cole (England), Cian Healy (Ireland), Gethin Jenkins (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales), Matt Stevens (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Dylan Hartley (England), Richard Hibbard (Wales), Tom Youngs (England), Ian Evans (Wales), Richie Gray (Scotland), Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales), Paul O'Connell (Ireland), Geoff Parling (England), Tom Croft (England), Toby Faletau (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Sean O'Brien (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Sam Warburton (Wales).

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