Tosh is a pet expression in ole Blighty which embraces anything absurd, nonsensical or rubbish, the sort of drivel which has been spoken about how the All Blacks should play England. Or was that England needing to play the All Blacks?

Hope about arranging that duel this year died in the dirt of Dublin as the combative Irish exposed the limited range of expression from the white-jerseyed zeppelins who were stymied physically, and mentally could not get out of low gear.

World record run averted, global balance restored, thank you Ireland.

All the attention and angst now veers towards the Lions squad which Warren Gatland will assemble ahead of the mid-year series in New Zealand.


Will the decision to relieve Sam Warburton of the captaincy at Wales and his playing resurgence be repeated on the Lions tour, or will Gatland anoint his 2013 leader as the head of the 2017 challenge?

The selection permutations are significant and will be limited only by injury to those like Scotland centre Huw Jones, who was in the frame until he tore his hamstring in the final Six Nations round.

That damage will eliminate Jones from discussions, while men like Billy Vunipola are back in contention after returning from knee surgery.

Vunipola is short of match fitness but that will come and then be honed against Super rugby rivals on the Lions trip.

A fit Vunipola will be essential for the Lions just as Kieran Read will be key for the All Blacks in the rival No8 role at the head of the team spine and that crucial 8-9-10-15 artery of command and direction.

Using that axis as a gauge towards the series, you'd have the All Blacks collectively nudging ahead, winning most of the individual contests.

Read, Liam Squire or an explosive Ardie Savea offer wider skills at No8 to deflect the bulldozing Vunipola, CJ Stander, Jamie Heaslip or the enterprising Ross Moriarty, with his layers of work boosting Wales and nudging out Taulupe Faletau.

The Lions have an advantage at halfback, with Connor Murray, Greig Laidlaw and Rhys Webb bringing the acumen needed at the highest level topped with a healthy feel for the game to push them ahead of the Super rugby production from Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara. The heat is coming from Augustine Pulu and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Five-eighths is an arena for excellence with a barrel of All Blacks and Lions talent - Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga duelling with Jonny Sexton, George Ford, Dan Biggar, Paddy Jackson, Finn Russell and maybe Owen Farrell.

Fullback is crucial to any team's organisation where he must read the play and direct his troops with a balance of timing from strike counter-attacks, organising the runners, coming up in the line or sweeping on defence.

Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Damian McKenzie and the lively Jordan Barrett bring an all-round accurate zest, while Stuart Hogg, Rob Kearney and Mike Brown are strong candidates but have all shown different flaws during the Six Nations.

Nothing can be assumed in rugby, most of all any sense of entitlement or superiority. However, the All Blacks have found a consistent mental edge during coach Steve Hansen's time and developed a spine which is rarely outshone.