Davies and McGeechan to cast eye over the Boks
November 7, 2008
Tour manager Davies will be an interested observer throughout a busy period of international rugby © Getty Images
Gerald Davies and Ian McGeechan will be in Cardiff tomorrow to watch Grand Slam winners Wales take on next year's Lions opponents South Africa.
Lions manager Davies and head coach McGeechan will be keeping a close eye on the world champions ahead of the mouth-watering 2009 tour to the Republic, during which the Lions will face the Boks in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. The two former Lions stars will also be assessing the form of those players looking to follow in their footsteps by pulling on the famous red jersey, although Davies has explained that their brief will not be to focus too heavily on individual players and that, ultimately, the final decision will fall to McGeechan and his coaching team.
"From my point of view, I'll be looking at the general standard of play of both sides on Saturday," said Davies, who was part of the historic Test-winning Lions side in New Zealand 37 years ago. "I'll want to see how Wales match up to the Springboks physically and to see the patterns of play in general. I won't be going to Cardiff specifically to watch just one or two players.
"This is just the start of the season and, as the season progresses, there will be plenty of opportunities in the Magners League, the Guinness Premiership, the Heineken and European Challenge Cups, the EDF Energy Cup and the Six Nations to pick out in-form players. At the moment, Ian and I are just looking for an overview."
Both Tour Manager and Head Coach travelled to South Africa on a fact-finding mission during the summer and Davies is hoping that the Springboks' Autumn Tests against Wales, Scotland and England will provide even more useful information on the challenge facing the 2009 Lions.
"We'll see all the Springbok games and what we'd like to do, between Ian and myself, is see all the Home Nations play this Autumn," added Davies. "South Africa are a formidable side and I'm sure they will have improved on their performances in the Tri Nations. Having talked to their coaches, they were disappointed with some of their performances during that competition but they finished on a real high with a 50-point win over Australia.
"I'm sure that they will up their game between then and now and they will do the same between now and the Lions tour."
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the best images of the weekend
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year