From Paul Morgan, editor of Rugby World Magazine
Emerging Springboks 13 Lions 13
From what we hear four Lions went into the game against the Emerging Springboks with the hope of forcing their way into the side that takes on South Africa this Saturday, and will be picked at 12.30pm (UK time) on Thursday: Shane Williams, Luke Fitzgerald, James Hook and Martyn Williams.
But unfortunately for Shane Williams and Luke Fitzgerald the extreme conditions didn’t present them with the opportunity to state their case, even if Williams showed some of the best form of the tour. Some rugby was played in the first half but the awful wind and rain ensured the second half was a kick-fest and nothing more.
Martyn Williams again showed his exceptional link play and his battle with David Wallace for Test selection will again go to the wire!
My feeling is that the Lions will keep the faith in Ugo Monye, meaning that Shane Williams and Fitzgerald will miss out again. They simply didn’t get enough ball to knock Monye out of the team.
Other things to note:
James Hook is providing a big challenge to Ronan O’Gara for the bench spot. Hook is a very good footballer, who could change the game off the bench.
Hats off to Tim Payne: He got off the plane on Monday and pulled on a Lions jersey on Tuesday to play all 80 minutes. Exceptionally good Lions spirit.
Keith Earls – This guy is going to be an exceptional player! The way he has come back from the depths of despair on this tour has been been exceptional. He is a great runner and could be the outside centre to eventually take over from Brian O’Driscoll in the Ireland and Lions side. Munster’s desire to play him at 15 could get in the way of that, but little else.
So upwards and onwards the Lions caravan moves to Pretoria on Friday. Why Friday? Well, Pretoria is at altitude and the received knowledge is…to play at altitude effectively you either need to be there eight days before the game or one day. With the Lions playing the Emerging Springboks on Tuesday the Lions had no choice but to stay in Cape Town until Friday. Not the ideal preparation!
But what do you think? Did anyone else from this side do enough to make the Test team?