Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Forward Power Can Floor the All Blacks

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Forward Power Can Floor the All Blacks

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON LEONARD

I DO not envy Sir Clive Woodward and his fellow selectors as they try to pick the British and Irish Lions squad to face New Zealand this summer because it was hard enough coming up with my First Test side.

It has been a fascinating RBS Six Nations because some players who were expected to be Lions Test certainties have fallen down the pecking order while others have emerged really strongly. I was lucky enough to experience three Lions tours and some of the most important work to ensure it is a successful trip has to be done before the players board the plane.

When the lucky 44 players meet up at the team hotel for the first time, their natural patriotism has to be left outside because once they enter the building they are Lions. I'm a very proud Englishman but each time I linked up with Lions that was put to one side. You have to become a very tight unit and there is no place for cliques - everyone has to mix in together and become a strong unit.

One of the reasons the 2001 tour to Australia didn't go well was the fact we had no time for social activities.

There were players who went such as Iain Balshaw, of England, who came back and said they would rather be involved with England.

Having worked with Sir Clive, I know he will give players the opportunity to go out for a drink or a meal and socialise together because it's all about trust.

One of the big questions the Lions face is: can they win playing like Slam champions Wales? That style of rugby would suit the All Blacks. I believe we can pick a pack of forwards that would be the best in the world and our aim should be to take them on up front, fracture their defence and then release the brilliant attackers we also have in the squad.

That is why I have chosen this particular XV for the First Test.

THE BACK THREE

Geordan Murphy has produced something special in every match no matter how the rest of the Irish side has played and is very good under the high ball.

Josh Lewsey has been the best of the England backs and punches well above his weight in the tackle while 'Alfie' Thomas will relish the chance to face the All Blacks. …

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