While it won’t surprise you to learn that Scottish Rugby Blog’s preferred choices to fill Tomas O’ Leary’s vacant Lions shirt both hail from these shores, Ian Macgeechan has opted to wait for a week or two before naming a replacement. How will the remaining weeks of the season allow the main candidates to showcase their talents (assuming that they all play in all possible games)?
There is a home game versus the Dragons and an away to Cardiff, and he may choose to concentrate on the Heineken Cup. There is plenty of opportunity to show off and he guaranteed his spot in the Edinburgh team if fit. He has been steadily improving of late since a poor Six Nations, but without being spectacular. He'd offer a different kind of scrum-half play to Phillips (who bowled him over in the Ospreys game at the weekend). Potentially, he could restore some magic to the Lions half-backs.
There is a game at home to Montauban and away to Castres. Also, USAP is topping the playoffs to follow. There will be many opportunities to prove that he is battle-hardened at the top level if the Lions selectors bother to send anyone to watch him. He can secure a starting place in the Perpignan team, having already announced his return to Glasgow. The Lions' management have apparently asked for him to go on the (European Nations Cup) Scotland A Tour to stay match fit. He came off the bench during a game last weekend that saw Perpignan stage a last-minute fightback against Clermont to clinch victory. The week before, he didn’t play and they lost. Coincidence? Such are the straws that we love to grab.
He is now in Munster’s hot seat for their Heineken Cup shindig with Leinster at Croker, as well as having the last two games of the season versus Cardiff and Ospreys. He will get plenty of opportunity to play in tough matches, but does he have enough to his game in comparison to the others, save a good pass and the extremely occasional bluff if the run is on?
Having been probably the best in the world in his field at the time of the last Lions tour, (just like Lee Byrne is now), Peel’s season is now over with Sale out of the running in European and Domestic competition. Other than the Welsh tour to North America, this offers him little opportunity to stay match fit before a decision is made. Given that the Welsh selectors didn’t want to take a chance on his form before the 6N (when he was actually in reasonable form played for club and country), will the Lions team follow suit?
He has a Guinness Premiership semifinal against London Irish and potentially a final, too. He is probably the in-form man with some high intensity stuff ahead, but can he control his rash streak enough for the Lions selectors?
An announcement should come either this week or next. In other news, heaps of people have applied for the Scotland job including eight or so definite contenders, and Rory Lamont is rumoured to be following Philipe Saint-Andre to Toulon. Hopefully he won’t get involved in anything like this.