After all the speculation, now we know who can start getting the jabs and building up their tolerance of that unrelenting Aussie confidence. In keeping with his persona of a gruff, single-minded Kiwi who does what he wants, Warren Gatland named a Lions squad that won’t please most people outside of Wales, but one that suits him perfectly.
The knee-jerk media reaction to Jonny Wilkinson’s excellent performance for Toulon against Saracens in the Heineken Cup semi-final wasn’t enough to book his ticket and the absence of England captain, Chris Robshaw has raised many an eyebrow. The omission of Rory Best is another another puzzler, while the wisdom of selecting just two out-halves is being questioned, particularly in view of taking three scrum halves.
The squad in full is:
Halfpenny, Hogg, Kearny
Bowe, Cuthbert, Maitland, North
Davies, O’Driscoll, Roberts, Tuilagi
Murray, Phillips, B. Youngs, Farrell, Sexton
Cole, Healy, Jenkins, A. Jones, Stevens, ,Vunipola, Hibbard, T. Youngs, Hartley
Evans, Gray, Wyn Jones, O’Connell, Parling
Croft, Faletau, Heaslip, Lydiate, O’Brien, Tipuric, Warbuton (captain)
That’s 15 Welsh, 10 English, nine Irish and three Scots. Understandably, Twitter was rife with comment and opinion. Here’s some of the more interesting stuff:
Will Greenwood highlights the notable list of ommissions through the medium of e-sympathy:
Feel for… Wilko.. Zebo… Wade.. Morgan…. Madigan…. Care…. O'Mahony… Ryan… Grant….Brown… Robshaw…. To name a few….
— Will Greenwood (@GreenwoodRugby) April 30, 2013
Mrs. BOD wish Brian the best of luck. I think.
Then she congratulates the other Irish lads:
— Amy Huberman (@amyhuberman) April 30, 2013
Wallaby, Quade Cooper celebrates the prospect of going head to head with Scotland’s Sean Maitland:
Hooooly omg my cousin made the lions!!!! I'm so damn proud of my lil cuz. Came along way from the back yard tokoroa boys with snotty noses!!
— Quade Cooper (@QuadeCooper) April 30, 2013
Jamie Heaslip allows himself to get a little soppy:
Dreams do come true….
— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) April 30, 2013
OPTA Jonny turns to the stats to burst a few bubbles:
7 – Wales have lost their last seven matches with Sam Warburton as captain, including four against Australia. Skip. #Lions
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) April 30, 2013
Brian Moore says something quite angrily, as you might expect:
Those Welsh fans mocking Robshaw's non-selection – what does that say about your sense of humour> Or humanity come to think of it.
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) April 30, 2013
Paul Kelso of Sky News humourously kicks the hornets nest:
Will make a change for Lions skipper to be doing the tip tackling as opposed to receiving it.
— Paul Kelso (@pkelso) April 30, 2013
The BBC’s Dan Roan provides a Twitter friendly biography of suprise pick, Matt Stevens:
Prop Matt Stevens is quite a story. Suspended for 2 yrs in '09 after drugs scandal, retired from England last year, now picked for Lions
— Dan Roan (@danroan) April 30, 2013
Frankie Sheahan consoles Munster’s Peter O’Mahony, Colm Tully spots a subtext:
EDITED… “@FrankieSheahan: Gutted for (my client) Peter O'Mahony….”
— Colm Tully (@colmtully) April 30, 2013
Austin Healey critiques the selection in a not especially specific way:
#lions2013 strange squad missing a spark and both 10's going to be in match squad for all tour games… tiring.. plenty on standby
— Austin Healey (@IamAustinHealey) April 30, 2013
The Welsh Dai Lama doesn’t feel too sorry for Chris Ashton:
— Dai Lama (@WelshDalaiLama) April 29, 2013
According to the odds, it hasn’t impacted the Lions chances of victory much. The tourists are still narrow 8/11 favourites to record their first series win since they visited South Africa in 1997.
As our office abacus tells us, 37 into 15 doesn’t go and there’s going to be fierce competition for a place in the starting XV. Johnny Sexton looks nailed on at out-half, as does Jamie Roberts at centre, but elsewhere the picture is less clear. The full range of selection headaches are available here.