Good week for
THE WHOLE IRELAND TEAM
To a man Ireland were sensational against England in Dublin, shutting down the Six Nations Champions with a display that many of the players needed to protect Lions places that had become rather fragile from the sub-standard performances against Scotland and Wales. It’s hard to single out any individuals from such a brilliant team effort, but if pushed these were the real stand-outs:
The big Irish ball-carrier showed why he should be nailed on for squad pick with a barnstorming display that far exceeded anything offered by, one of his rivals for the No. 6 shirt, James Haskell. The fact that he delivered such an influential performance from 8 was further evidence that he’ll be very much in Gatland’s plans.
The 13 shirt is up for grabs and Ireland’s talented young outside centre put his hand up in a big way. It would be a surprise if both thirteens on show in Dublin didn’t go with the squad after this performance by the Leinster starlet, who has lived up to his billing as the nation’s new hope in a quiet but impressive fashion.
The competition for places in the Lions back-row is fierce, but the Munster flanker took the one chance he got in the tournament in a big way, showing exactly why he’s a big option for Gatland. Ferocious at the breakdown, useful at the lineout, happy to play his role as a squad player – O’Mahony seems like the archetypal tourist.
THE IRISH FRONT ROW
The scrum specialists seen at Dublin will likely make up the core of the front-row picks, but Ireland’s heavyweights made a big statement with their rock-solid performance. Tadhg Furlong is a star in the making, but such is the quality of the Irish front-three that you could make a strong case for all three starting the first test in Auckland.
Scotland's fly-half may well have scuppered his Lions chances against England, but he made sure to remind Gatland of his qualities with an eye-catching game against Italy. Russell's hopes of making the Tour probably hinge on whether the selectors want Farrell as purely a 12 or not. If they do then there could be space for an extra 10.
The England lock had a remarkable Six Nations. Even in a losing effort against Ireland it was noticeable how effective Launchbury was, putting in incredible amounts of work and keeping his cool while those around him didn't. If he misses out on the squad it would be unjust and he's given himself a sniff for a test spot.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Lions watch: Who impressed and who flopped on the final Six Nations weekend