Experience and depth give Lions the edge
June 20, 2013
Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll will ensure the backline is well led © Getty Images
Leadership is crucial in Test series, as is a depth of talent on the reserves bench. And the British & Irish Lions have both.
Warren Gatland is certainly enjoying an abundance of riches. In his Test team he was able to announce three reputable and experienced leaders - Sam Warburton, Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll - in his starting XV. So many wise heads on the field, including one former Lions skipper in the middle of their attack, will give the tourists an advantage.
Adding to their wealth is several resourceful players on the bench, including Geoff Parling, Richard Hibbard and Mako Vunipola, who all could have easily made the starting XV.
The only surprise of sorts was the inclusion of prop Alex Corbisiero after not making the original 37-man squad, but his selection is hardly jaw-dropping. Corbisiero has already shown on tour that he is a quality scrummager, an area where the Lions believe they should hold an advantage over the Wallabies.
Then again, the only area where the 2013 Wallabies are superior to their 2001 counterparts is in the front row, with Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander a more formidable combination than Nic Stiles, Glenn Panoho, Rod Moore, Jeremy Paul and Michael Foley.
Overall, Gatland has picked a line-up that could be at its most dangerous in the final quarter of the game, when his impressive back-up artillery can hit the ground running.
My First Test tip: Lions by 3
Wallabies greats preview the Test series against the Lions
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Monday Maul turns its attention to drunken nights out, a blunt-talking coach, hidden agendas and crooked feeds
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game