Team of the series: The Black Lions
There are all the If-onlys and the refereeing controversy and the evaluations and even a "We wuz robbed".
We thought it would be fun to try to pick a combined side – the Black Lions.
We are going to look at the candidates for each position and then make a choice. The candidates will be from the starting teams. It may be, however unlikely, that the team have 15 New Zealanders or 15 Lions. We are just going to name the player
The candidates will be from the starting teams.
It may be, however unlikely, that the team have 15 New Zealanders or 15 Lions.
We are just going to name the player in each position whom we thought the best performer over three weeks in June-July 2017.
All Blacks: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Jordie Barrett
Lions: Liam Williams
Our Choice: Liam Williams. First of all, he played more than the All Blacks in the position. Secondly, he was brave, thirdly he was creative and most of all there was that magic try that he started, probably the most thrilling try in top rugby this year.
All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo
Lions: Anthony Watson
Our Choice: Anthony Watson, who played more, was hardworking, good on defence and, most of all, a handful when he got the ball.
All Blacks: Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert-Brown
Lions: Jonathan Davies
Our choice: Jonathan Davies. He had a brilliant series. If rugby is about attack and defence, he was excellent in both departments. For the All Blacks, the loss of clever Ryan Crotty was a big blow.
All Blacks: Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape
Lions: Ben Te'o, Owen Farrell
Our choice: Owen Farrell, who was clever, brave and skilful – and his goal-kicking really told.
All Blacks: Rieko Ioane, Julian Savea
Lions: Elliot Daly
Our choice: Elliott Daly who played in all three, has the strength and all-round ability on attack and defence. He was first-choice for all three Tests. Speedy Ioane made a dream, two-try debut and was then dropped after the second Test.
All Blacks: Beauden Barrett
Lions: Owen Farrell, Jonathan Sexton
Our choice: Beauden Barrett who is so skilled, varies play so well, keeps opponents busy all the time and defends so well.
All Blacks: Aaron Smith
Lions: Conor Murray
Our choice: Conor Murray. The better of two of the very best in the world. He was strong on attack, pinpoint in his retrievable kicking and so quick and accurate with his passing. And he can tackle.
All Blacks: Kieran Read
Lions: Taulupe Faletau
Our choice: Taulupe Faletau, whose close work was magnificent – his tackling and driving were strong – a man for the tough, unglamorous jobs.
All Blacks: Sam Cane
Lions: Sean O'Brien
Our choice: Sam Cane – faster, harder and more direct at the tackle. And his own tackling was first class.
All Blacks: Jerome Kaino
Lions: Peter O'Mahony, Sam Warburton
Our choice: Sam Warburton who stood out in both Tests he played. Jerome Kaino's yellow card was a blot.
All Blacks: Brodie Retallick
Lions: Alun Wyn Jones, Maro Itoje
Our choice: Brodie Retallick at line-outs and everywhere else
All Blacks: Sam Whitelock
Lions: George Kruis, Alun Wyn Jones
Our choice: Sam Whitelock, the epitome of strength, courage and commitment. His tackling was outstanding.
All Blacks: Owen Franks
Lions: Tadhg Furlong
Our choice: Tadhg Furlong, the strong Irish 24-year-old who shirked nothing and was firm in all he did.
All Blacks: Joe Moody
Lions: Mako Vunipola
Our choice: Joe Moody. Outstandingly strong, reliable and calm.
All Blacks: Codie Taylor
Lions: Jammie George
Our difficult choice: Codie Taylor. There was little to choose between them in line-out work but Taylor may just have had the edge in effective carrying and at the tackle, which way be slightly more important than scrumming strength.
Team of the series:
15 Liam Williams (Lions)
14 Anthony Watson (Lions)
13 Jonathan Davies (Lions)
12 Owen Farrell (Lions)
11 Elliot Daly (Lions)
10 Beauden Barrett (All Blacks)
9 Conor Murray (Lions)
8 Taulupe Faletau (Lions)
7 Sam Cane (All Blacks)
6 Sam Warburton (Lions)
5 Sam Whitelock (All Blacks)
4 Brodie Retallick (All Blacks)
3 Tadhg Furlong (Lions)
2 Codie Taylor (All Blacks)
1 Joe Moody (All Blacks)
It is obvious that there were some difficult decisions, split votes if you like. Oh, and picking individuals is not the same as picking a team.
By Paul Dobson