We all know that making predictions about the thoroughly unpredictable and ever-changing world of international rugby is bound to come back to embarrass you. But that’s not going to stop us. Oh no!
So, after watching more 6 Nations and Heineken Cup games than is probably good for us, here are our nailed-on, already chosen their seats on the plane, top picks for the 2013 Lions Tour of South Africa.
We would pick the whole starting 15, but we’ll leave that for you to do while you’re sat enjoying a cold beer on one of our Lions Tour 2013 packages!
If he’s fit and available for the tour, surely the redoubtable Mr Jenkins will be one of the first names on the team sheet. The Welsh prop has been one of the standout performers in the last two Lions Tours and his partnership with Adam Jones in the Welsh front row should give the Lions pack a good solid base to work from.
Another victorious Welshman in the front row can’t be anything but a good thing. Jones played 81 minutes during the first two tests of the 2009 Lions Tour. In that time the team scored 30 points and conceded 15. In his absence, the Lions scored just 16 points and conceded 39. Those figures speak for themselves really, don’t they?
Another Welshman and another of the star performers at the 2012 6 Nations. A hard tackling and hard running flanker, Warburton was many people’s player of the tournament at the 2011 World Cup – despite that red card against the French in the semi-final.
One of Scotland’s standout players at the last couple of 6 Nations and the scorer of one of the tries of the 2012 tournament. The 6’ 9” lock will be looking to further increase his international reputation and make his Scottish presence felt in a Lions squad that is unlikely to feature too many of his fellow countrymen.
If Manu manages to keep himself fit, he could well be one of the Lions star performers. After an excellent performance against the Welsh and a powerhouse, try-scoring display against the French in the 6 Nations, the 2013 Lions Tour could be the platform for the Samoan-born outside centre to stake a claim as one of the world’s top players.
Another of England’s star performers in Paris, Foden deserves to be one of the first names on the Lions team sheet. His distribution, his try scoring and his understanding of the game should make him an integral part of the team, and he would surely flourish by being surrounded by the cream of British rugby.
O’Connell will probably captain the side as he did on the last Lions Tour. He’s regarded by those in the know as one of the very finest second rows on the planet. His aggression, his experience, his leadership and his magisterial presence at the lineouts will make a huge difference to the Lions.
Ferris is considered by many to be one of the most destructive players in world rugby – a real wrecking ball of a blindside flanker. Every Irish rugby fan remembers that tackle on Will Genia at the 2011 World Cup! And the Lions will need a few similar displays from the Ulsterman if they're going to be victorious against the Wallabies in the 2013 Lions Tour of Australia.
Ok, we admit it, O’Driscoll is very much a pick from the heart rather than the head. He’s hardly played over the last year or so, but (and we know it’s a BIG but) if he can rediscover his form and his fitness BOD will be a huge asset for the Lions.