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Oval ball gazing
Richard Seeckts
July 17, 2013
Wales' Jonathan Davies emerged as a key figure in the Lions' recent success in Australia © PA Photos
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Modesty probably forbids the editor of this site saying, "I told you so", but exactly one year before the Lions' first Test in Brisbane, Graham Jenkins bravely predicted the following starting XV for that match:

Graham Jenkins' prediction:
Halfpenny; Ashton, O'Driscoll, Roberts, North; sexton, Phillips, Healy, Hartley, A Jones, Grey, Parling, Croft, Warburton, Faletau

Actual 1st Test line-up:
Halfpenny, Cuthbert, O'Driscoll, Davies, North, Sexton, Phillips, Corbisiero, T Youngs, A Jones, A-W Jones, O'Connell, Croft, Warburton, Heaslip

Actual 3rd Test line-up:
Halfpenny, Bowe, Davies, Roberts, North, Sexton, Phillips, Corbisiero, Hibbard, A Jones, A-W Jones, Parling, Lydiate, O'Brien, Faletau

Predictions made a year in advance should be taken with a pinch of salt, particularly in a sport where injury is so prevalent. With a full season of internationals, European and domestic competition to run, well over 500 matches for eligible players (excluding those in France), there was ample time for form and favour to change, injury to hit and, at the last minute, suspension.

With eight correct predictions in each match, five that played in both first and third Tests, and 11 that filled their predicted slot in either the first or third Test, Graham should take a bow.

The successes are there for all to see. Knowing that the Six Nations winner usually dominates Lions tour selection, it's worth noting that Graham tipped England to win a Grand Slam in 2013 but that Gatland (yet to be appointed in June 2012) would go for a largely Welsh Lions team.

The predicted side highlights significant losers; Chris Ashton whose form dipped alarmingly over the year, and Dylan Hartley, whose verbal outburst in the Premiership final saw him banned from playing for 11 weeks.

All the others made the tour, though Cian Healy's trip came to an end in the first match in Australia, and Jamie Roberts and Sam Warburton were picked as predicted when fit.

The dark horses, Jonathan Davies, Alex Corbisiero and Alun-Wyn Jones in particular, played vital roles in the success in Australia.

Two quotes from Graham's piece in June 2012 catch the eye: in respect of O'Driscoll, "there is no room for emotion when it comes to selection", and, showing misplaced faith in the errant hooker, Hartley "looks poised to silence his critics once and for all." Ah, well.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
WRITER BIO

Richard Seeckts' rugby career consisted of one school match where he froze on the wing and despite no substitutes being available he was withdrawn from the game at half-time for mocking the opposition's line-out calls. Thereafter Richard and the sport agreed active participation was not the way ahead, but that has not prevented him from avidly writing about and watching the game. He now contributes his random observations to the Crooked Feed blog on ESPNscrum.com