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Stuart Barnes says that the Lions can win the series on Saturday but have to make some changes.Back to story
You've got to see this in the context of Gatland's career. He came to Wales hoping that like Henry he would then be given the All Blacks team. That didn't happen., and no-one else is too keen to employ him either. So he's stuck with Wales. He's using the Lions simply to ensure his adoration inWales. Otherwise, why on earth dig out poor old Shane Williams and take him out to Oz for how long? A couple of days? Four hours? What on earth could that be about other than ingratiating himself with the Welsh. It's a wonder he hasn't picked Gareth Edwards for Saturday. So it is with all his selections: they're all made with en eye on his home crowd. Hogg, Tuiilagi, Twelvetrees and all the rest might just as well have stayed at home.
Posted 14:09 5th July 2013
My three concerns when Warren was appointed, first he'd appoint Sam as captain, two he'd take a large squad of Welsh players and third he'd play the Welsh way, Sam has been a no-no, at least three or more Welsh should not be there, Phillips, Evans, Tiperic and Roberts who's past his sell by date Sheridan, the Aussies hate him, and he's still regarded as the strongest player in the game,the Armitage brothers, regarded as the best street fighters in the French game, Laidlaw, a No9/10 and another kicker, the young English second row who's name has slipped my mind, he's like a back row forward, maybe Darcy to have partnered BOD, then backed up by Jonathon Davis and Manu and Easter the best No 8 ball carrier in the UK and Ireland. By starting the test with 10 Welsh players Warren has done the Welsh players a big favour for the Autumn series and next 6 nations, its called getting experience, but done no favours for the last test. What he's saying is that there's only five worthy players capable of starting the game from three other countries, that's an insult. The Aussies know the Welsh style and brute force and ignorance isn't going to win the game. Who takes over the captaincy if W-jones gets injured, there's no one, the last Autumn series, Wales where a disaster and not one of the so called senior players stood up to be counted, and no plan B, maybe Farrell should be wearing that captain's arm band, he's very vocal and points fingers at players when he has too, just like his dad, let's hope he gets a go. AND l wonder if all the coached where in agreement with Warren's selection, something tells me maybe not. l'm a Welsh man so fingers crossed. Best of luck Lions Sandy Powell
Posted 20:14 4th July 2013
Regarding criticisms of Stuart Barnes' "blessing in disguise" comment (made on Australian/New Zealand TV coverage), which was in relation to Sam Warburton's hamstring strain. A little mystified by the criticism of Stuart Barnes here. Critics of Stuart might be perfectly entitled to think that Warburton is actually performing better than O'Brien. However you also imply that Stuart should be ashamed for using the word "blessing" when alluding to a hamstring injury, on account of it being "insensitive". Could these critics please take a yellow card for bringing their politically correct gibberish into the game of rugby. "Blessing in disguise" was a fine piece of journalistic metaphor that conveys very well the cruel realities of test rugby and the selection decisions involved. Stuart Barnes has a flair for finding insightful words on the fly, and these eloquent turns of phrase were a breath of fresh air to all of us who were tuning in Down Under. This journalistic artistry is why Australians and Kiwis like to hear what this Brittish commentator has to say. In almost the same breath, Stuart told the Australians that he felt very sorry for Sam Warburton. So what more do you want? If you prefer your journalism watered down, it surprises me you are following the Lions on Stuart's pages at all. Perhaps you should be following the Lions via the Rob Andrew column in Cosmopolitan.
Posted 12:17 2nd July 2013
Just been reported that James Horwill has been cleared to play in the 3rd test. a sensible result and thank god those ignorant idiots in the IRB did not get away with this rubbish. Go the mighty Wallabies.
Posted 04:28 2nd July 2013
For me guys like vunipola and Cian Healy empitimise exactly what is wrong with European rugby such a big emphases is put on creating props who are exceptional with ball in hand but in scrum time are well the less said the better. If there is anything that test should have showed us its how important the scrum is. I mean Munster pretty much based there past hineken cup successes on there dominence in the gritty scrum and ruck forwrds play that is no longer exsistent in the game and yet a combination of some of the best props in Europe can't even compete with a relatively weak by Southern Hemisphere by the big boys standard scrum
Posted 02:22 2nd July 2013
Stuart, be careful what you wish for. If Horwill is given a suspension it sets up a very dangerous precedent for everyone. Most importantly, there is history around infringements in Lions games - think about Umaga's tackle on BOD (who missed the entire series). No-one can argue that Horwill's incident was worse than a spear tackle with the resulting injury...it is this precenedent that nneds to be considered, not an off-hand statement that "he deserves about a week".
Posted 00:33 2nd July 2013
I believe it is vitally important to win the battle up front allowing players such as Roberts , O'Brien and Tuilagi as ball carriers to do what they do best (make yardage with ball in hand)... This allows guys like North,O'Driscoll and Bowe to feed off Sextons game management... The lions need to play with the same intensity as Wales did against England in the Grand Slam decider a few months back as the platform set by the forwards allowed Wales the freedom to exploit weaknesses in Englands defence..If I was Warren Gatland I'd lay the law down.....no pussyfooting around get stuck into them ....Ferociously !!
Posted 19:11 1st July 2013
Stuart, I have always been a great admirer of your view and opinion, but I have to say that you are teetering on the brink of commentator' slippery slope in courting controversy for it's sake. I as others have seen your comments regards Sam Warburton on aus tv. The comment that it would be a blessing in disguise is hugely disrespectful to say the least and bordering on the offensive to be positive about one man's huge misfortune in sustaining a serious injury whilst giving his all for his team. I challenge you to re watch the game and not come to the conclusion that Warburton was immense and almost single handed kept the lions in the game. No coincidence they lost upon his departure. You have damned him with faint praise throughout the tour and I am very sorry to say that you appear to be coming across as keen to see negative in all aspect. Your highlighting of Vunipola elbow on Ash-coop!! A complete non event. As I said a big supporter of yours previously but poor comments re Warburton who I believe deserves an apology for insensitive comments.
Posted 18:30 1st July 2013
Hi Andrew, I know that's what he meant but I have seen the footage and it's what he said. I just think whoever it might be that's just been injured and going to miss the biggest game of his career then you don't say it's a blessing in disguise. We need to get behind them all now. We were poor on Saturday but still came close. If the selection is right on Saturday then I truly believe we will win the match because we won't play that bad again. Maybe we should just get George the sack carrier North too carry the whole Aussie team on his back and win it that way!!!
Posted 18:10 1st July 2013
Chris, i wouldn't take it too personally. I believe stuart was saying that with O'Brien starting it would help the Lions' attacking game and provide a(nother) ball carrier in the pack - the Lions definitely looked short of ball carriers on saturday.
Posted 16:32 1st July 2013
So are you saying that gatland has tried to play the only game he knows (power) but has been missing roberts? if so then why not play tuilagi as a like-for-like? The Lions need to play with the verve and high tempo that has become synonoymous with them. Gatland deployed them tactically like Wales and they lost all three of their recent tests against the Wallabies narrowly. But they still lost. Time to deploy the attacking talent and go for broke. if you're going to go down then go down playing Lions rugby. The fans will not mind that. I'm still watching the matches from SA !!
Posted 15:05 1st July 2013
Greg Lewis, you really are one-eyed aren't you? In the first test they knew how he reffed so why did they not prepare? in the second the Lions scrum got away with boring in all game - if a NH ref had reffed that they would have been blown off the park.
Posted 15:01 1st July 2013
I have just seen your interview that you did on Australian tv and I have to say what you said about Sam Warburton is not just disrespectful but couldn't be further from the truth. He was outstanding and yes most of his work was in defence but surly that wasn't down to Sam. Look how many turnovers he had for starters!! I like Sean o' Brian but he wouldn't be as effective as Warburton in that area. There is no coincidence that when Sam went off, the lions conceded. For you to say Sams injury is a blessing in disguise is disgusting and completely offensive. I think you should think before you speak, even if it is on a different countries television screen and maybe a public apology to Sam Warburton wouldn't go a miss.
Posted 13:16 1st July 2013
I thought the Lions were one dimensional and very predictable. The Aussies knew how to defend, the Lions were relying on running over them. Once that did not happen we were stuck. The lack of a genuine 12 has shown, the Lions have gone with outside centres only. Once Sexton is under a ruck there is no inspiration. The lions need a second 5/8 and someone to run better lines, not simply into people. Picking and driving one up doesn't work, it needs to go two out using the 7 as a link player. There needed to be a bit more invention with the line-out as well, why not one right over the top to the inside centre or a waiting 7? or to the 9 to run through the line out?
Posted 12:41 1st July 2013
The only reason this series isnt over and the Lions victorious is that the first test ref was a complete joke only missing the red nose and the second test ref made four or five critical errors, all in favour of the Aussies gifting them the game. With anything approaching even handed competent refereeing this would be a done deal.
Posted 12:08 1st July 2013
I couldn't agree more about the lack of attacking intent (such a shame given the history of the Lions). I don't actually see many players in that team who break the gain line frequently. the entire back row is defensive and not good with ball in hand, O'Brien has to start, simple. The lack of an attacking No8 is showing now aswell as Heaslip was almost invisible (Ben Morgan would have been perfect for this role). If Roberts isn't fit, Tuilangi has to start. the current midfield has no punch at all. I agree that Phillips has to start, but only if Roberts/Tuilangi starts. Corbisero for Vunipola if fit. It is there for the taking, its as poor an Australian team as I've seen for some time, without mavericks like Cooper & Guiteau the backs just aren't firing.
Posted 11:25 1st July 2013