Lewis Moody column for the British and Irish Lions: Making Alun Wyn Jones captain is genius. I can't wait for the coin toss with James Horwill

Moody Views

As a Lions fan it would have been much better on the nerves if that last Leigh Halfpenny kick had crept over a week ago, but as a neutral you would not have wanted any other finale to this nail-biting series than the one that awaits on Saturday. All the excitement, the pressure, the hubbub, the chat around the squad and the selection made by Warren Gatland, all building to the biggest game of the last decade, probably since England won the World Cup here, certainly since the last Lions tour. It just makes for a great spectacle.

Being here in Sydney you can feel it. The place is teeming with Lions fans; red jerseys, green jerseys, blue jerseys, white jerseys, everybody is waiting for the game and all of them are talking about the choices Gatland made, the 15 men who will start and the eight waiting to come off the bench. Among the decisions is one stroke of genius – making Alun Wyn Jones captain. He is exactly the sort of person to lead in a game of this magnitude and pressure.

Jones is a great choice. He has had an outstanding tour and having him as captain – especially after the incident with James Horwill – is just genius. I would love to be there at that coin toss and hear what is said! There will be tension there, but there will be huge tension around the whole occasion. There is no question he deserves his place in the side and he is an utterly level-headed guy, just the sort of leader you need for a contest like this.

BOD's dimmed light no match for reliable Roberts

I was not expecting seven changes. That did come as a surprise, in particular leaving out Tom Youngs, who has had an outstanding season and has been one of the most consistent players on the tour. I would have had Justin Tipuric at seven rather than Sean O'Brien, and it also strikes me as odd that Ben Youngs is not even given a place on the bench. He came in from the cold for Melbourne and has now been sent back into it.

Out here you have 100 different discussions with 100 different people who come up with 100 different team selections. That's the fun of it all, but ultimately it is down to Gatland alone. You can see why he has made the choices he has, even if you may not agree with all of them. Richard Hibbard brings extra bulk to the scrum, as does O'Brien, and in Mike Phillips the coach is going back to a player he has depended on during his time with Wales. Gatland is going back to what he knows best, which brings me to Brian O'Driscoll.

For players of this and my generation he is one of the most talented players we will ever see. But Gatland is thinking only of winning the game in front of him.

He is not thinking about Wales, he is thinking about the Lions. Brian has not done anything massively wrong but he has not been the sparkling, shining light that we have seen for so long. Gatland has gone with Jamie Roberts, one of those players he has always relied upon. He has picked Roberts for every game for which he has been available since he first capped him back in 2008.

Much as we would all love O'Driscoll to be out there and come away with a series win, there is no place for sentiment. Gatland has been brave and made big and very tough decisions. This was without doubt one of his toughest. Gatland has gone back to what he knows and what he trusts and that is what any coach would do. You cannot hang his reputation on this. His record with Wales speaks for itself.

The simple fact is that his choice didn't work last week and we lost the Test, so he is responding to that with a side he believes can get it right this time. His response has been to throw all his eggs into one basket for the decider. Anyhow, now the choices have been made, everyone connected with the Lions must come together. It is about being positive, the whole squad backing each other and focusing on winning on Saturday.

Pack must lay down the law straight from kick-off

The last 20 minutes of each game have been the worst parts of the match for the Lions. Australia came out on top in Melbourne and Brisbane over the closing quarter. The Lions need more off the bench, and to that end Tom Youngs, Manu Tuilagi and Tipuric will bring energy, enthusiasm and impact, tearing pieces out of the opposition over the last 20 minutes. There has been a big emphasis on making the bench stronger, but then of course you have to make sure you are in a position to win the game in the last 20 – which takes us to the first 10!

I see this as a potentially pivotal period. It certainly could have been in Melbourne when the Lions started so positively and drove at the Australians – a kick for the corner, a couple of drives and the referee told the Aussies that if it came down one more time a yellow card would follow. Another kick for the corner and another drive could have seen a massive advantage to the Lions. But in Test match rugby turning down three points is not an easy choice to make. The Lions must start well – with Alun Wyn Jones marshalling the pack and going at the Aussies – look for the corners and then drive. Take it to them.

I was chatting about it with Steve Thompson. Those first 10 minutes are going to be so important. It is a chance for the captain to impress on the opposition, "this is what we are going to do to you". What the Lions have to do throughout is retain the ball better – it was poor on both sides last week. The backs had very little ball in Melbourne and they have to get some good possession to hurt Australia.

Roberts is a big-game player, a big enthusiastic ball carrier who is expert in giving little off-loads that create openings. You have seen how good George North is – it is imperative we get these guys into the game.

George Smith's return for Australia is fantastic. Michael Hooper has been quiet – he has been easy to knock off the ball, which is unlike an Australian No 7 – and I am not surprised coach Robbie Deans has made a change. The breakdown has been a chaotic area and Smith's experience and tenacity will count for plenty in there. I played against him a number of times and he is a wonderful player. Is he slightly past it? We will find out, but on his domestic form he deserves his opportunity.

Expect nothing else than another nail-biting finish

So who is going to win? It is just about impossible to call. If Alex Corbisiero comes in and dominates that scrum with Adam Jones and Hibbard, if Geoff Parling gets it right in the line-out with Hibbard and his jumpers, if they can get enough ball to launch Roberts and North in the backs, bring Tommy Bowe into the game, if O'Brien can keep that wily old dog Smith out of the breakdown and off our ball…

There are plenty of ifs, and one moment of brilliance, one mistake, one kick could settle it. But I still have the Lions to win – by the narrowest of margins. It is going to be a nerve-racking game. Enjoy it!

ESPN Classic continues its Lions and international Rugby Union coverage every weeknight from 7pm. Airing tonight is the Rugby World Cup final from 2003. Visit: espnclassic.com for details

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits