Rugby | 3 months ago
New Zealand media are quite confused over Johnny Sexton's role for the Lions
Not a foregone conclusion

It will be very interesting to see what Warren Gatland chooses to do on June 24.

Finally, speculation surrounding the make-up of the Lions squad can now be put to bed.

We now have our 41-man squad.

11 Irish men, 16 English, 12 Welsh and 2 Scots.

There was a little bit of disappointment to see the likes of Simon Zebo, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose and Donnacha Ryan miss out.

But we have seen with all Lions tours in the past, players will be ruled out through injury.

This offers hope to those not selected.

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Concentration can now shift to the likely starting XV to face the All Blacks in the first Test.

Most people would love to see Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell in the 10 and 12 shirts, respectively.

And it's not hard to see why.

Sexton is one of the best 10s in the world and he has pretty much all the attributes you want in a Test level out-half.

Kicking game, defence, great passing ability and an innate ability to attack the gain line has catapulted him into the bracket of world-class.

Farrell contains many of these qualities too but his recent Test experience has been at 12 which offers the attractive option of a second playmaker.

When you consider Dan Biggar is the third out-half in the squad - there would be a high risk attached to playing both Sexton and Farrell in the same 15.

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If one of them got injured, even both, all of a sudden Warren Gatland has a problem.

This, in addition to Sexton's injury record and Farrell's impressive performances at 10 for Saracens means that a 10-12 combination is not a foregone conclusion.

The Kiwi media also seem to believe this as Scotty Stevenson and former Connacht full-back Mils Muliaina discuss on Sky Sport NZ.

Stevenson: "Is this guy [Sexton] getting the first Test at 10?"

Muliaina: "You would have thought so but going on what Gats has just mentioned, possibly not.

"I mean...it's given me a headache and I'm not even a Lions fan."

The panel did agree that Farrell will be in the starting Test team, but whether that will be at 10 or 12 remains to be seen.

Just over two months until we find out!

You can watch the full discussion below.

Click play (below) for Episode 12 of The Hard Yards rugby podcast, with Ronan O'Gara and Stephen Ferris joining host Andy McGeady and Pat McCarry of SportsJOE to talk Munster, Leinster and.....LIONS!

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Lions 2017