Rugby

Austin Healey Has Some Bizarre Selections In His Lions Test XV

Austin Healey Has Some Bizarre Selections In His Lions Test XV

Warren Gatland's team announcement for Saturday's game against the Maori All Blacks is being awaited with bated breath. The team he names is highly likely to feature the majority of those who will face the All Blacks in the first Test on June 24th.

In the meantime, plenty are having a stab at what they believe should be the starting XV for the game.

For The Telegraph, former Lions and England international Austin Healey has named his side.

Curiously, Healey has named a player at fullback who isn't even on tour at the moment - Mike Brown.

After Stuart Hogg was ruled out of the tour due to a collision with Conor Murray's elbow during the Lions' win against the Crusaders at the weekend, it was decided a replacement for the Scottish fullback would not be called up. Gatland and Co. felt they had sufficient cover at the position with Leigh Halfpenny, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Liam Williams and Jared Payne in the squad.

Despite this, Healey believes Gatland should call up Brown. His reason: there's no one else as dependable as the Harlequins man.

Leigh Halfpenny is currently favourite to fill the gap left by Hogg. And with good reason too, Halfpenny has been Wales' first choice fullback for much of Gatland's time as Wales head coach. While Halfpenny may lack in terms of attacking ability, it's hard to believe Gatland doesn't think him to be reliable.

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Mike Brown isn’t in the squad but if the Lions are playing a Warren Gatland style of rugby then he goes straight into my Test team - there is no-one left in the squad who is as dependable and solid at full-back as he is.

I’ve also gone for a really big pack, with Iain Henderson at flanker, on the basis that the most successful team against the All Blacks are usually South Africa, who base their game on physicality up front.

Healey's team does feature four Irish players - Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw.

Furlong and Murray are no surprises. Henderson certainly is, as is naming Henshaw at outside centre.

Irish names have been suggested to play blindside in the Test side. Mainly CJ Stander and Peter O'Mahony. Henderson has only played second row for Gatland so far. It really would be a shock to see him play ahead of the two Munster men.

Austin Healey Lions team

15. Mike Brown (England)
14. George North (Wales)
13. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
12. Ben Te’o (England)
11. Elliot Daly (England)
10. Owen Farrell (England)
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)

1. Mako Vunipola (England)
2. Jamie George (England)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. George Kruis (England)
5. Maro Itoje (England)
6. Iain Henderson (Ireland)
7. Justin Tipuric (Wales)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

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