The British Lions: A No Bullshit Guide To What We've Learnt

The no holds barred take on the latest from the Lions tour.
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The no holds barred take on the latest from the Lions tour.


Paramount amongst current learning’s on the 2013 tour: Owen Farrell can take a punch, many will argue he could do with a few more. The front row resemble the ugliest drag act imaginable with the luxuriant locks of Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard both taking a pasting under the Hong Kong sun and if you're a loose-head prop for the British and Irish Lions then seemingly a bad case of jet-lag could rule you out of a test series - last count two sent home in the space of 24 hours.

Three games into tour and only 80 minutes of real competitive action to sculpt concrete opinions from, the Lions are stuttering to take form. The first game against a Barbarian team whose pedigree cannot be questioned, but suspicions on commitment and more accurately the exact levels of red wine a player can expect to have coursing through their veins during the pre-match warm-up, is however up for conjuncture. The second game against Western Force proved as taxing as a two word crossword with the Lions eventually running in 69 points. The game caused much hubbub and rhubarb about the opposition and lack of strength thereof, it's not as extreme as the Man United first team taking on their respected secretaries for a kick-about however, especially given that Jenny from accounts is looking quite handy this year.

Baring the injured Irishman Rob Kearney, everyone has now had a run out, what's clear is Johnny Sexton should be encased in cotton wool and perched high upon a chaise-lounge for fear of breaking, pulling, staining or tearing just about anything. Back-row places look as secure as Istanbul with a situation developing whereby captain Sam Warburton could conceivably lose his test place to an in-form Justin Tipuric, it would be best for all concerned if on Saturday against a decent Waratahs side, Warburton played out of his already taunt skin and banished those whispers to the cold.


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The sprinting tower block that goes by the name of George North however is put simply, scary. A man young enough to only know the true horror of Atomic Kitten's back catalogue through nostalgia based reality TV shows has all but nailed on his starting berth for the series. Elsewhere Leigh Halfpenny seems to have done away with the common consensus of humans functioning with an actual personality and has morphed into a Robo-kick 3000, slotting home 11 from 11 kicks so far, this is only good news for the Lions, the additional battle of muscular chess that awaits them will come down to precious few points, we can all but prey they stem from the laces of Robo-kick.

A word on the opposition, likely starting fullback Kurtley Beal has checked himself out of rehab and is apparently fit to play, and from the safety of my kitchen, some 3000 miles away, I'm prepared to say the re-emergence of the psychopathic junkie is not great news for the Lions, the man is a genuine talent and one to be wary of. The other big talking point is fly-half Quade Cooper, or the 'mercurial' Quade Cooper as the Aussie media like to label him. 'Mercurial' of course being the word used when 'Toss-pot' seems socially unacceptable. Either way and if he's in the team or not, he's world class and showed against the Lions on Saturday that given even the faintest rumour of a gap he'll cause mayhem. Even his teammates at times appear clueless as to what fizzes through his mental state, imagine a 15 stone latter-day Tino Asprilla of Newcastle for compassion. It should also be noted that he recently returned to rugby after a spell in professional boxing - so essentially could reduce Stuart Hogg to a simpering heap of purple bruise and blood loss.

Looking ahead the Lions has three games left until the big arena and a date with infamy. With two players already sent to drown their sorrows in duty free and three receiving a call informing them that Saturdays planned BBQ is most definitely off and they should report themselves to the nearest airport immediately in order to join the party. Gatland will now look to his stalwarts, namely the likes of Paul O'Connell, the man is a mountain few could hope to topple and has so far stalked the pitches of Australia like a moose with a migraine. He has the gift to galvanise those around him and with the sharp end fixed on the horizon terms like 'filling the jersey' really start to echo, and that is something he knows only too well.