“In The Spirit Of Going For Broke” – Woodward Says Irishman Should Be Starting The Third Test
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All or nothing.
Former England and Lions coach, Sir Clive Woodward, reckons Warren Gatland should have gone “for broke” and started Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne for the third and final Test against the Springboks this weekend.
Beirne has been unlucky not to start in the first two Tests, instead, he has had to settle for a spot on the replacements bench. But he is nowhere to be seen for the final Test, having been dropped from the squad entirely.
With the series now tied at 1-1, Gatland has made six changes to the starting XV and Woodward thinks he has been “brave” to a certain extent but still feels the selection is rather “conservative” overall.
“This team feels a little conservative to me although, as ever, it comes down to how they play on the day, not how it looks on paper,” Woodward wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“On one hand, it is quite a brave selection — how many coaches would leave Stuart Hogg, Owen Farrell, Anthony Watson and Taulupe Faletau sitting in the stands in their suits, surplus to requirements?
“But I was hoping for a statement at fly-half in the form of Finn Russell or even Marcus Smith. But it’s Dan Biggar again, this time reunited with Ali Price at scrum-half.
“Unless Price can rediscover his fast-breaking game, I’m not seeing how this combination poses the threat or point of difference the Lions have been lacking so far.
“Liam Williams and Josh Adams — in for Hogg and Watson — were always going to feature after last week’s defeat but I was not expecting Duhan van der Merwe to keep his place…
“In the spirit of going for broke, I would have started Tadhg Beirne at blindside flanker, the Irishman has been unlucky on this tour not to bag a starting spot. Gatland has gone with Courtney Lawes who was brilliant in the first Test, but only workmanlike in the second…
“And at No 8, although my first instinct was to go with Faletau, after mulling over it for a few days I would have chosen Sam Simmonds.”
Say what you want about Woodward – but he makes some good points.