By Paul Mallon | British and Irish Lions Tour 2013
Warren Gatland is not a man who likes leaks. The British and Irish Lions coach wants to keep things tight ahead of the squad announcement next Tuesday.
Speculation on the chosen few who will represent England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, will reach fever pitch this weekend but Gatland has vowed to remain tight-lipped.
The Paddy Power Blog, less so.
“The players are going to find out with the rest of the rugby world,” Gatland said. “In the past we’ve texted players and there has been a bit of a leak but this time no one is going to know.”
Well, Warren, this is less ‘loose-tips’ and more customer insight.
Leinster’s Ian Madigan looks a cert to make the trip Down Under, given the activity around Paddy Power’s shops in the last week. By ‘activity’ we mean ‘trolley of cash’.
Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton (3/10), although still recovering from injury, and Owen Farrell (7/2) head the market in the battle to start in the No10 shirt.
Madigan is a distant 12/1 to get thrown in at the deep end, but a squad role looks increasingly certain.
After reducing the loss of Sexton to Leinster, Madigan’s team manager there, the former Ireland player Guy Easterby, said he thinks he has the ‘whole package’. We hope that’s a reference to his ability on the pitch.
“What has been impressive about him is the work he does off the pitch in terms of his preparation because he realises if he gets his preparation right, that has a huge effect on how the team plays,” Easterby said. “If Ian knows where he wants to be, then he can direct the team around.
“That is where he is learning, where he is coming on. It is not just what you see in him kicking his goals, making his breaks or defending well. It is the whole package that has been the impressive thing.”
Warren will look to leader Warburton
The other key market move this week at Paddy Power has centred on the skipper role. Since Wales’ first-half mauling in the RBS 6 Nations by Ireland, Sam Warburton has grown in stature with every game. That’s been noticed in all quarters and he’s now just 2/9 to captain the Lions. Paul O’Connell has drifted from 4/5 a few weeks back to 5/1. And while Gatland will travel to watch him in Montpellier on Saturday as Munster take on Clermont in the Heineken Cup semi-final, the giant Irishman’s chances of leading the Lions look scuppered. Ain’t that a kick in the head.
As for the outright market, Paddy Power makes it 10/3 that the Lions come back from Australia with a 3-0 margin of victory which is the most popular bet with our customers. There’s been a nibble too in the last few days on British and Irish Lions 2-1 but very little interest a home series win.