Greatest Lions XV of professional era includes eight Irish players 1 year ago

Greatest Lions XV of professional era includes eight Irish players

"Rob won't be happy with me. I'll be getting a text about that."

Over the past six weeks, during the House of Rugby Lions Series, Alex Goode and Seán O'Brien have debated and, ultimately, selected their greatest Lions XV.


We have already seen the pack decided upon - with four Irish players, two English and two Welsh making it up - while both men decided on Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton as the best Lions half backs of the professional era.

During a recent episode, O'Brien and Goode finished off their team selection by choosing their centres and back three.

Among the players to miss out - and this just goes to show the quality of player we are talking about - were Scott Gibbs, Jeremy Guscott, Jamie Roberts, Ieuan Evans, Rob Kearney and Shane Williams.

"There's only going to be one name at 13," said Goode, "and that's Brian O'Driscoll. Not even a question - first name on the team-sheet.

"Beside him, I'm going to select Jonathan Davies at 12, who was unbelievable in 2017 and not far off in 2013."


Brian O'Driscoll toured with the Lions in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013. (Credit; Richard Lane/SPORTSFILE)

When it came to selecting wingers, O'Brien went for former England flyer Jason Robinson on the left with Wales' George North on the right. Goode went for the "phenomenal" Tommy Bowe, while he agreed on North.

"I can't believe I'm leaving out Jason Robinson," he said, "but there we go."


That left only the No.15 jersey to fill, and the players vying for it were Liam Williams, Rob Kearney, Neil Jenkins and Leigh Halfpenny.

"I'm going with Leigh Halfpenny," O'Brien declared. "Mr Consistent. He kicked the Lions to victory [in 2013]. I think he only missed one penalty on that whole tour... very, very brave, attacked really well, tough player. But the point of difference for him was the kicking."

From the latest Lions tour, to South Africa, the only players making that legendary XV are Conor Murray and Toby Faletau. Both featured in the Test Series but did not have as much influence as they did in 2013 and 2017.

O'Brien got the swaying vote for the forwards and Goode got that honour for the backs. With this in mind, here is the Lions XV the pair settled on.



15. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland)
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland)
12. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
11. George North (Wales)
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)

1. Jason Leonard (England)
2. Keith Wood (Ireland)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Martin Johnson (England)
5. Paul O'Connell (Ireland)
6. Sam Warburton (Wales)
7. Seán O'Brien (Ireland)
8. Toby Faletau (Wales)

Let the debates begin!