The British and Irish Lions have emulated their Springboks’ counterparts by bringing forward their team announcement by 24 hours to Wednesday morning, fueling the possibility that the selection has been leaked in advance after the squad were told of the matchday 23 for the first test before training on Tuesday afternoon.
On previous tours the squad would not have been informed of the first test selection until the Wednesday, with the announcement being made public the next day. But this time, in the absence of a midweek game prior to the first test, everything has now effectively been shifted forward by 24 hours.
The Times in London has published a match-day ‘23’ which features Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong and Jack Conan in the starting XV, along with Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray among the replacements.
If their selection comes to fruition when the Lions unveil their first test team on Wednesday morning then, a little surprisingly, the Scottish pair of Stuart Hogg and Duhan van der Merwe will have been preferred to the Welsh duo of Liam Williams, superb under the high ball, and Josh Adams, scorer of eight tries in his first three Lions’ games.
By contrast, while Bundee Aki had probably played himself into contention, the likelihood is that Gatland, Gregor Townsend and co will reward Robbie Henshaw for his exceptional Six Nations form and trust that come Saturday he will have fully recovered from the hamstring strain which delayed his first tour game until the win over the Stormers last weekend.
Elliot Daly’s creative passing and left footed kicking game, coupled with his ability to land long range penalties, were always likely to be accommodated somewhere and, tellingly, his three starts on tour have all been at outside centre. By the same token, Daly started all three tests in New Zealand on the left wing, and his versatility could enable him to cover the back three and allow Gatland to name a 6-2 bench.
The speculation among some of the UK media that there was an increasing case Ali Price would be picked ahead of Murray has intensified, and there will be altogether less surprise if Dan Biggar is chosen at outhalf.
Mako Vunipola, who played in all three tests eight years ago and started all three in New Zealand, may miss out with, seemingly, Wyn Jones is set to start with Rory Sutherland on the bench, with Furlong nailed on at tighthead.
Hooker is especially competitive but Luke Cowan-Dickie produced the standout performance of any of them in last Saturday’s win over the Stormers.
If Alun Wyn Jones is deemed fit enough to play, then it makes more sense to start him alongside Maro Itoje than have him on the bench. Not only is he probably not best suited to an impact role, but if there is any reaction to the shoulder he dislocated against Japan it’s best for this to happen as a starter than a replacement.
For all Beirne’s fine form it would come as no surprise if Courtney Lawes’ physicality was preferred from the off. By contrast, Conan being selected ahead of Taulupe Faletau, another veteran of the last two tours, would raise more eye brows although the Irishman’s form has been better on tour.
Lions (possible team): Stuart Hogg; Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe; Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong; Alun Wyn Jones (Capt), Maro Itoje; Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.
Nadine Lott told ex-partner who later killed her not to ‘threaten’ her, court hears
Nadine Lott told her former partner not to “threaten” her two weeks before he killed her, the Central Criminal Court has heard.
The jury in the trial of Daniel Murtagh was given transcripts on Tuesday of WhatsApp messages between the accused and his ex-girlfriend in the days and weeks leading up to her death.
In them, the accused asks her if she is “seeing someone from Dublin”. In reply, Ms Lott tells him she is not seeing anyone. Mr Murtagh asks her if there was a “Dublin lad” in her “place” and she tells him to “leave it out”.
She tells him that “nothing is ever going to happen between us again, I want to make that clear.”
In another text from December 5th the accused said: “Nadine I worry about ye, not in love, just don’t slip”.
She replied: “Don’t threaten me either”.
Evidence has previously been given that Mr Murtagh told a motorist that he had “killed my wife because she was with my friend”, just hours after he assaulted her.
John Begley testified last week that he saw a car in a ditch as he was travelling over Bookies Bridge in Laragh on the morning of December 14th and then came across the accused man standing at the side of the road.
“Daniel said to me ‘you don’t know what I’ve done”. I said what did you do. He said ‘I killed my wife’. I didn’t think anything of it. He said it a second time and said he hoped she was not dead. He said ‘she was with my friend’,” said Mr Begley.
Mr Murtagh (34), of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary’s Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow on December 17th, 2019.
The jury has heard that Ms Lott suffered “severe blunt force trauma” and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner “in a sustained and violent attack” in her Arklow home.
They have heard evidence that the injuries to Ms Lott were so serious that she never regained consciousness and died three days later in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.
An intensive care nurse at the hospital has told the jury that Ms Lott was “completely unrecognisable” and that she had never seen anybody so badly injured. A paramedic who attended to Ms Lott at her home told the jury that the call will “haunt” him for the rest of his career and was one of the most “horrendous scenes” he had ever walked into. The garda who telephoned ambulance control informed them that Ms Lott had been “beaten to a pulp”.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury of seven men and five women.
Shocking news, Irish people may be sanest in Europe
Ireland is running low on loopers. If we don’t watch out, we could emerge from the pandemic with our reputation for wildness completely shredded. We are in danger of being exposed as the sanest people in Europe.
Vaccines go into the arm, but also into the brain. They are a kind of probe sent into the national consciousness. In Ireland’s case, the probe has discovered exciting evidence of intelligent life.
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