No place for Farrell in former captain's B&I Lions XV
SPOTLIGHT: Two-time British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton has picked Johnny Sexton ahead of Owen Farrell to start at flyhalf in his British and Irish Lions Test XV.
Appearing on the House of Rugby podcast, the Welshman also picked seven compatriots in his side after their successful Six Nations.
Warburton opted for the Ireland captain over the England captain at No.10, which may not have been the case at the beginning of the Six Nations.
Sexton shone in the final two rounds of the Championship, and though he will be 36 come the Test series, Warburton highlighted “his leadership, his experience”, saying “he’s the one guy I’d want him to steer that ship”.
Meanwhile, Farrell was not helped by England’s poor Six Nations, particularly in his head-to-head battle with Sexton at the Aviva Stadium (although he played most of the game at inside centre).
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) April 9, 2021
The 79-cap international did add that he does not mind who starts in the No.10 jersey though. He said: “If I was still playing and I was in that Test team and there was Finn Russell, Sexton, Dan Biggar or Owen Farrell all picked at No.10, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. I think we’re best at No.10, I think it’s the one position I’m not worried about.”
One of the potential causes for England’s form is their large contingent of Saracens players, who are currently deprived of playing at the elite level of domestic and European rugby after their automatic relegation to the Championship.
It is for that reason why Warburton has only opted for one Saracen in his XV, Maro Itoje, alongside fellow Englishmen Sam Underhill, Tom Curry and Anthony Watson.
Warburton did say, however, that Jamie George may be able to work his way into the Test team ahead of Ken Owens in the warm-up matches.
Sam Warburton’s Lions XV: 15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland), 14 Anthony Watson (England), 13 George North (Wales), 12 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), 11 Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), 10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland), 9 Tomos Williams (Wales), 8 Taulupe Faletau (Wales), 7 Tom Curry (England), 6 Sam Underhill (England), 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 4 Maro Itoje (England), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 2 Ken Owens (Wales), 1 Wyn Jones (Wales).
Source: House of Rugby podcast & Josh Raisey (@RugbyPass)