After a predictable round of Super Rugby, I want to change direction a little and talk about the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

When you look at the depth and challenges coach Warren Gatland has, there are going to be a lot of disappointed players who won't make the touring squad.

To give a prime example, and in view of the recent speculation that England wanted to play the All Blacks at Twickenham in November, plus their Six Nations victory, I believe there may only be one Englishman in the Lions' backline for the first test.

My argument is that Irishman Connor Murray is close to being the best No 9 in world and is definitely the best in the Northern Hemisphere. The two best first-fives are Ireland's Johnny Sexton, who would be my choice, and Welshman Dan Biggar.


England's George Ford is a future Lions player but possibly not there yet. The one England back who could be selected is Owen Farrell at No 12 but he is up against pretty stiff competition against the likes of Robbie Henshaw, of Ireland, and Jamie Roberts, of Wales. Farrell's England teammate Jonathan Joseph could also have claims here.

Welshman Jonathan Davis at No13 would be my preferred option, with the wings George North from Wales and Irishman Simon Zebo. There is a possible conundrum of fullback but you would think Ireland's Rob Kearney would be a leading candidate ahead of Welshman Leigh Halfpenny.

A case could also be made for Englishman Mike Brown to start there, so at best two, but probably one Englishman will be in the test backline, a number which could surprise a few people.

One of the most important decisions Gatland has before naming his squad on April 19 is his selection of captain; to have a man who sets the culture, brings the team together and is an approachable person who everyone can relate to.

He also has to be first choice in his position and I can't think of anyone better than Irish hooker Rory Best. The talk is that Sam Warburton is one of the front runners but he will have enough challenges just making the test team. He has also relinquished the captaincy of Wales and looks better for it. Dylan Hartley is another one but, for me, there's just too much controversy that comes with him.

Ireland have had a hell of a season under Best. They beat the All Blacks for the first time ever, stopped England's winning run and in my mind that points to a good captain the players like and respect.

He's a great hooker as well. At the basics of scrums and lineouts, he's probably the best in the world.

Best doesn't seem to get flustered and there will be pressure on the Lions throughout the tour, referees, adversity and different conditions.


That coolness is what you need on a tour here. Beating the All Blacks in New Zealand is the hardest thing to do in rugby, in my opinion, and Best will relish the challenge.