British & Irish Lions
Scrum.com experts name Lions Test side
Scrum.com
April 18, 2009
British & Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan, flanked by Tour Manager Gerald Davies, faces the media during the Lions media briefing at the Heathrow Sofitel in London, England on December 11, 2008.
We asked our correspondents to second guess Lions coach Ian McGeechan with their own selections for the Lions' 1st Test against the Springboks © Getty Images
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With the Lions squad announcement looming, we asked our experts to gaze into their respective crystal balls and name the side that will face South Africa in the 1st Test in Durban on June 20.

Lions coach Ian McGeechan will name his squad of 35 or 36 players, and his captain, in London on Tuesday which will give a fair indication of his thinking when it comes to the Test series against the Springboks. But we asked our own team - former Wales and Lions international John Taylor, respected journalist Huw Richards, ex-Scotland international Iain Morrison and our very own Editor Graham Jenkins - to name the players they think will line-up in the famous red jerseys at Kings Park.

With the European domestic season still to reach a climax and the small matter of six bruising tour games before the opening Test there are set to be a few injury-enforced or form-related changes to the likely line-up but we will not let that detract from our own attempt to second-guess McGeechan and his coaching team.

So what did their combined rugby knowledge and experience offer in terms of selection? As expected Six Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland and Wales dominate in terms of playing personnel but England and Scotland also provide key players. The headache facing McGeechan appears to be the luxury of strength in depth in some positions and relatively few options in others.

Only five players feature in every selection suggesting there is still plenty to play for over the coming weeks. Those players are the Irish quartet of outside centre Brian O'Driscoll, No.8 Jamie Heaslip, openside flanker David Wallace, lock Paul O'Connell and Welsh loose-head Gethin Jenkins.

The positional spread of these Lions-in-waiting may give cause for concern with no-one yet laying claim to the influential half-back spots or the hooker berth. In contrast the lack of a fullback or a winger in this shortlist is perhaps due to the glut of talent vying for these spots in the team.

As ever with such selections, we have a few surprise names in the mix. England hooker Dylan Hartley and winger Ugo Monye, Wales youngster Leigh Halfpenny and Scotland speedster Thom Evans are all favoured for Test status.

All will become clearer come Tuesday afternoon from which point the real selection battle will begin. Stay tuned to Scrum.com for full coverage of the Lions squad announcement.

Here's our team's selections in full:

John Taylor - former Wales and British & Irish Lions international

15. Delon Armitage (England); 14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland), 12. Gordon D'Arcy (Ireland), 11. Shane Williams (Wales); 10. Stephen Jones (Wales), 9. Mike Phillips (Wales); 1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales), 2. Dylan Hartley (England), 3. Phil Vickery (England), 4. Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales), 5. Paul O'Connell (Ireland), 6. Tom Croft (England), 7. David Wallace (Ireland), 8. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Huw Richards - Wales correspondent and Scrum.com historian

15. Lee Byrne (Wales); 14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland), 12. Gordon D'Arcy (Ireland), 11. Shane Williams (Wales); 10. Stephen Jones (Wales), 9. Mike Phillips (Wales); 1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales), 2. Ross Ford (Scotland), 3. Euan Murray (Scotland), 4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 5. Paul O'Connell (Ireland), 6. Joe Worsley (England), 7. David Wallace (Ireland), 8. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Iain Morrison - Former Scotland international and Scrum.com columnist

15. Lee Byrne (Wales); 14. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), 13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland), 12. Tom Shanklin (Wales), 11. Ugo Monye (England); 10. James Hook (Wales), 9. Harry Ellis (England); 1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales), 2. Rory Best (Ireland), 3. Euan Murray (Scotland), 4. Nathan Hines (Scotland), 5. Paul O'Connell (Ireland), 6. Tom Croft (England), 7. David Wallace (Ireland), 8. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Graham Jenkins - Scrum.com Editor

15. Lee Byrne (Wales); 14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland), 12. Jamie Roberts (Wales), 11. Thom Evans (Scotland); 10. Stephen Jones (Wales), 9. Harry Ellis (England); 1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales), 2. Jerry Flannery (Ireland), 3. Phil Vickery (England), 4. Alun Wyn-Jones (Wales), 5. Paul O'Connell (Ireland), 6. Tom Croft (England), 7. David Wallace (Ireland), 8. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Peter Martin - Ireland correspondent

15. Lee Byrne (Wales); 14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland), 12. Tom Shanklin (Wales), 11. Shane Williams (Wales); 10. Stephen Jones (Wales), 9. Tomas O'Leary (Ireland); 1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales), 2. Jerry Flannery (Ireland), 3. Euan Murray (Scotland), 4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 5. Paul O'Connell (Ireland), 6. Joe Worsley (England), 7. Martyn Williams (Wales), 8. David Wallace (Ireland)

What do you think of our selections? Let us know your thoughts in the Scrum Forum

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