British and Irish Lions 2013: The ‘Welsh and Irish Lions’ are fine by Phil Vickery

 

Former England captain Phil Vickery would welcome a British and Irish Lions Test XV dominated by Welshmen if it was best equipped to defeat Australia.

Warren Gatland’s squad have been dubbed the “Welsh and Irish Lions” by the Australian media and it is conceivable that the team picked for the opening Test on 22 June may not contain a single England player. Many of the 15-strong contingent from Wales have started the tour strongly and Vickery, who won five caps on the 2001 and 2009 Lions tours, has not been surprised by the impact they have made.

“I get a lot of stick for my views on the Welsh presence in the Lions, but while I’m a proud Englishman, I’m also proud of northern hemisphere rugby,” he said. “The reality is that there’s a large number of Welsh in the squad and that’s because they’re good. That’s fact. They’ve played well and have consistently shown what they can do. I’d have no issues with a Test team based heavily on Wales if it was the best side.”

Vickery added: “The Welsh lads are such good boys, they know they have to mix and there are no better boys than the Welsh lads to do that. The worst thing you can have on a tour are players who you think, ‘why are you here because you’re not good enough’.There isn’t one Welsh guy on the tour who isn’t good enough. The most important thing is to justify your selection.”

Vickery dismisses the view that the Lions might possess an inferiority complex against Australia due to Wales’s poor record against the Wallabies – eight successive defeats dating back to 2009, albeit in some very close matches.

“As a player who consistently lost to teams likes Australia and New Zealand in the early days, losing makes you want to fight and win that little bit more the next time,” the former England prop said. “If anything Wales’s losing streak against Australia will be a bonus.”

After scoring 128 points and 17 tries in their two tour games against the Barbarians and Western Force, the quality of opposition facing the Lions improves in Brisbane today. Force faced criticism for the lack of strength in their team last Wednesday, but Vickery is cautious about placing too much importance on provincial games.

“I remember 2001 and it was all the same chat then. Ultimately it’s out of the Lions’ control, and don’t forget everyone raises their game for the Lions. It’s everyone’s cup final,” he said. “I was disappointed with the standard of the Force team, but the Wallabies will be very different.”

Phoney war: Jones goes on the attack

The Australian media have yet to sink their teeth into the touring Lions squad but the temperature is slowly rising in the build-up to the First Test...

  The CourierMail

“A Warren Gatland factory-produced team” featuring “big, physical, well-conditioned men”. It didn’t take long for former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones to start the Lions-baiting in his column. Or giving advice on how to beat the tourists – “play the game at a high tempo and don’t give them a chance to breathe”.

 The Brisbane Times

Rugby league normally rules in Queensland and three days after New South Wales’ captain, Paul Gallen, chinned home favourite Nate Myles in the opening State of Origin showdown, Brisbane’s other paper still had that incident on their minds rather than indulging in any comment on the tourists.

Sydney Morning Herald

Down in Sydney, though, Jason Robinson kicked off his guest column by echoing the thoughts of many locals and backing Quade Cooper and Will Genia to be the half-back pairing when the Lions return on 22 June.

Suggested Topics
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Travel
Streets ahead: Venice
travelWhat's trending on your wishlist?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect