June International Tours

Greenwood puts his faith in BOD for Lions



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Former England centre Will Greenwood says that Ireland’s Grand Slam captain Brian O’Driscoll should lead the British and Irish Lions in South Africa this summer but says that his former world cup winning team mate Jonny Wilkinson will not make the 10-match trip.

The Lions squad will be revealed in just under two weeks time and Wilkinson was not named in Newcastle Falcons squad for their European Challenge Cup Quarter final which leaves him little time to show Lions coach Ian McGeechan that he is matchfit.

The 55 England cap Greenwood who was a Lion in 1997, 2001 and 2005 feels that there are probably only seven or eight places left for McGeechan to decide upon.

Greenwood also says that the Lions captain will be from Ireland and said, “I think his surname will begin with the letter O,” he said.

“Personally, I would take O’Driscoll , but there would be no arguments if he picked (Paul) O’Connell.”

“O’Driscoll captained Ireland exceptionally well to the Grand Slam. He has scored tries in key games when the team wasn’t performing that well, and he even dropped a goal against England.

“While there is no room for sentimentality on a Lions tour, to go as captain to New Zealand in 2005 and be up-ended one and a half minutes into the first Test match and stretchered off, you sort of get the feeling that if a guy is owed one then maybe it is him.

“They won’t pick him for those reasons, it will be pure rugby reasons and what gives them the best chance of winning.”

Back in 2005 when O’Driscoll was taken off in the first test it was Greenwood that came on for the Ireland captain in Christchurch. That day Wilkinson was the Lions number 10 but Greenwood feels that Wilkinson wil not be there this time.

“Ronan O’Gara and Stephen Jones are number one and two fly-halves on this tour, in my opinion,” Greenwood told PA Sport at an HSBC Lions event.

“They are going to take a third fly-half, you would have thought. Has Jonny got enough game-time underneath his belt?

“Would I be putting him in that squad on April 21? No I wouldn’t, but if McGeechan puts him in the squad you certainly wouldn’t get any arguments from me.

“As for Gavin, (Warren) Gatland and (Shaun) Edwards are coaches on the Lions tour, and they obviously rave about him. I think he has got all the skills and attributes.

“Take this in the appropriate manner, but sometimes you almost want to ruffle his hair and say ‘come on Gav, you’ve got so much talent.’

“He can kick the ball a mile off either foot, if someone runs down his channel he will absolutely bury them, and he can pass off either hand.

“For the confidence player that he clearly is, you just feel he needed a run of more games.

“But anyone who tells me right now who is playing inside centre in the first Test against South Africa and puts their house on it, I would call them a fool.

“Riki Flutey had a games against both France and Scotland in the Six Nations, but they were armchair rides.

“His form has been indifferent for Wasps, but he showed what he can do against France and Scotland. The thing about this tour is getting on the plane.

“Riki Flutey, if he gets on the plane, will have bigger tests in the first two weeks of the Lions tour than he had against France or Scotland at Twickenham in front of 80,000-odd English fans.”

Traditionally the Lions take along an uncapped player and in 1997 an uncapped Greenwood joined the tour as their “bolter”.

“I think most people would be pretty convinced that 27 or 28 names are pretty much nailed on, and there are seven or eight names to fill,” he said.

“Would you count, for example, (Ireland scrum-half) Tomas O’Leary as a bolter? Possibly, at the start of the season most people outside of Munster may not have heard too much about him.

“And what is the definition of the word bolter?

“Is it

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