Thursday 21 September 2017

Five players who put their hand up for selection against the All Blacks against the Hurricanes

British and Irish Lions players, including Dan Biggar, centre, following the match between Hurricanes and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
British and Irish Lions players, including Dan Biggar, centre, following the match between Hurricanes and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Jack Austin

The British and Irish Lions let a 14-point lead slip as the Hurricanes fought back to earn a deserved draw in Wellington.

With the second Test is on the horizon the final midweek game of the tour offered the last chance for those outside the team to force their way in and show Warren Gatland what he's missing

Here's who put their hand up to give the coach some food for thought:

Dan Biggar

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British and Irish Lions' Dan Biggar is tackled by Hurricanes' Mark Abbott during the tour match at the Westpac Stadium
 

The Welshman has next-to-no chance of making the Test side with Owen Farrell and Jonathan Sexton both ahead of him in the pecking order, but Biggar has barely put a foot wrong all tour. He has been one of the Lions’ best performers consistently, in comparison to Sexton who has been erratic and was very poor when he came on against the All Blacks on Saturday.

Biggar put in yet another high-class performance with the boot against the Hurricanes, including one monster penalty from the halfway line. He was involved in three tries too, as his superb, long pass set up Tommy Seymour’s second try, while he also sent up a perfectly weighted kick which led to George North’s score and a big tackle to eventually lead to the interception for Seymour’s first. If Elliot Daly and Liam Williams can play their way into the Test team then why can’t Biggar?

Courtney Lawes

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British and Irish Lions' Rory Best (left) and Courtney Lawes appear dejected during the tour match at the Westpac Stadium
 

Lawes, has had a very impressive tour but, like Biggar, he has been a victim of players with bigger reputations playing ahead of him, with the likes of Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones and George Kruis all in front of him in the pecking order.

But Lawes showed his power, but more importantly his lineout prowess with one classy steal in the first half. Kruis and Jones were poor in the first Test and as a result Lawes could take advantage. Brodie Retallick was sublime during on Saturday and maybe the Lions need to take a different approach to him in the second Test with Lawes. His 54th-minute substitution would suggest Gatland is thinking the same.

George North

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British and Irish Lions winger George North stands on the line as dives for a try which is disallowed against the Hurricanes
 

This was last-chance saloon for North, with the Welshman surprisingly omitted from the first Test with Daly taking his place in the squad. He had only had play twice on the tour before this game and had not been given a huge chance to impress as he was seemingly being saved for the Tests.

It looked like it was tour over for North when Robbie Henshaw went off early in the first half, leaving the 25-year-old to have to move to centre, a position that hadn’t worked for him in the past. However, he ended up getting involved in the game a lot more, making line-breaks more frequently and even touching down to score his first of the tour. Could he sneak a place on the bench?

Iain Henderson

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Iain Henderson of the British & Irish Lions is tackled by Brad Shields of the Hurricanes during the match between Hurricanes and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
 

It’s as if both Lions locks on Tuesday knew there was something to play for. Henderson was as good as – if not better – than Lawes against the Hurricanes. The Irishman made a number of clean breaks and a lot of metres and he pummelled the hosts.

His beautiful flick-pass set up North for his try and we was withdrawn in the 57th minute, three after Lawes, by Gatland and was one of the best players on the pitch. But he came back on and soured his performance with a yellow card for an awful spear tackle which cost the Lions the game. It’s up to Gatland to decide whether his performance was good enough up until that moment of madness.

Tommy Seymour

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British and Irish Lions player Tommy Seymour scores a try
 

A left field option going into the game considering the abundance of talent available to the Lions back three but two tries for the Scotsman will do him no harm, as it did for Williams and Daly last week.

He proved he could tackle hard and finish efficiently in his first try and show a great turn of pace for his second after good work from Biggar. He could be the final man on the bench to stretch some tiring Kiwi legs and provide an energy outlet for the visitors.

Independent News Service

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