Friday 14 December 2018

'I hate bashing the guy' - Luke Fitzgerald picks five Irish in his Lions Test XV but expects Warburton to start

Luke Fitzgerald wouldn't have Sam Warburton in his matchday 23 to take on the All Blacks
Luke Fitzgerald wouldn't have Sam Warburton in his matchday 23 to take on the All Blacks
CJ Stander and Conor Murray Newsdesk Newsdesk

Former Leinster, Ireland and Lions star Luke Fitzgerald believes Lions captain Sam Warburton shouldn't be in Warren Gatland's matchday 23 for the first Test against the All Blacks on June 24, never mind the starting XV.

Sean O'Brien have thrown themselves into the mix to start against Steve Hansen's men after impressing during the Lions 12-3 win over the Crusaders at the weekend.

Fit-again Warburton will skipper the Lions in Tuesday's Highlanders clash, but feels he needs to string two or three showings together to hit top form after recovering from an ankle injury.

For Fitzgerald, there is no way  the Welshman should start ahead of O'Mahony or O'Brien.

"I hate it but I think he will. I think he's the least talented of the three. I wouldn't have him in the 23. I hate bashing the guy but I think the other two are way more talented," he told today's episode of The Left Wing.

"He's not a patch on (O'Mahony and O'Brien) at lineout time or around the pitch. Seanie is very dangerous around the pitch. I don't think there is any comparison.

#WATCH Luke Fitzgerald on how Warren Gatland stumbled upon his best team and why captain Sam Warburton shouldn't start

Posted by Sport on Monday, June 12, 2017

"He's not even in consideration in my team but I think Gatland will try and get him in."

Fitzgerald revealed the starting XV he would choose to take on New Zealand in just under a fortnight and included five Irish men.

He includes the Leinster trio of Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong and Sean O'Brien and the Munster duo of Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray.

He also believes Robbie Henshaw, Jack McGrath and Jared Payne are on the verge of becoming Test starters.

Luke Fitzgerald's Lions Test team:

15. Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson dives over for the Lions’ only try. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

14. George North

George North in a fresh injury setback

13. Ben Te'o

Ben Te'o of the British & Irish Lions is tackled by Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, left, and Bryn Hall of Crusaders. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

12. Owen Farrell

British and Irish Lions' Owen Farrell kicks a penalty during the match in Christchurch. Photo: David Davies/PA

11. Liam Williams

Liam Williams of the British & Irish Lions in action against Matt Duffie of the Blues during the match between Auckland Blues and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

10. Johnny Sexton

Jonathan Sexton

9. Conor Murray

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Conor Murray of the British & Irish Lions following the match against Crusaders

1. Mako Vunipola

British and Irish Lions players, from left, Mako Vunipola, Dan Biggar, Jack McGrath, Anthony Watson and Ben Te'o during squad training at Carton House in Maynooth. Photo: Sportsfile

2. Ken Owens

58 SPORT RUGBYU Li (42).jpg
Ken Owens

3. Tadhg Furlong

RUGBYU L (136).jpg
British and Irish Lions' Tadhg Furlong

4. George Kruis

George Kruis

5. Alun Wyn Jones

Alun Wyn Jones of the British & Irish Lions following the match between the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians and the British & Irish Lions. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

6. Peter O'Mahony

Peter O'Mahony of the British & Irish Lions. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

7. Sean O'Brien

Sean O'Brien of the British & Irish Lions

8. Taulupe Faletau

Taulupe Faletau of the Lions charges forward

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