It's the Lions Tour, and as ever I'm glued to the TV getting my fix of high class rugger. The tour so far has been intriguing seeing how the European players are adapting to the high veldt and the drier, harder grounds. Judging the players by the four games so far this is how I would see the first XV for the first test:
1. Gethin Jenkins. Best loose prop so far - especially as Andy Sheridan for all his size is lacking in stamina.
2. Lee Mears. Belies his lack of size with effective running and mostly accurate lineout throwing.
3. Euan Murray. A problem position this. Murray has hardly set the world alight, but Phil Vickery has largely been anonymous
4. Alun Wyn Jones. Just shades it above Nathan Hines, especially as the no.5 position is taken up by the Captain
5. Paul O'Connell. I haven't been entirely too impressed with O'Connell until tonight against the Sharks. Personally prefer O'Driscoll as Captain
6. Tom Croft. Industrious and seriously quick. Can cover the second row in a pinch as well.
7. David Wallace. Only just ahead of Martyn Williams at the moment. If Williams plays on Saturday and plays his usual effective fetching role, then I believe that he will be a good foil with Tom Croft.
8. Jamie Heaslip. Way, way, better than Andy Powell. No where near as one dimensional.
9. Mike Phillips. Physical and a real handful. Just needs to be a bit quicker at getting the ball away at the breakdown.
10. Stephen Jones. I like Hook, but his lack of experience tells against him and O'Gara is too weak defensively.
11. Ugo Monye. Probably the only person who could keep up with Brian Habana. Hasn't done anything wrong either.
12. Jamie Roberts. Powerful, punching holes in defences and more importantly has good understanding with both Jones and O'Driscoll.
13. Brian O'Driscoll. I'd have to have a lobotomy to even consider any one else here.
14. Tommy Bowe. Looks like he's as dumb as bricks, but he's a heck of a winger.
15. Lee Byrne. Excellent thus far, hell of a boot, and runs well and direct.
Subs: Lee Fitzgerald, Harry Ellis, Rob Kearney, Martyn Williams, Nathan Hines, Matthew Rees (but really needs to improve his lineout throwing), Adam Jones.
With any luck, this lot will give the Springboks a heck of a game!