Australia reacts to ‘big slabs of meat’ in Lions squad

Gatland waited for O’Connell and Lydiate, the ‘hardest men on the northern scene’

 Paul O’Connell, just one of the ‘large slabs of meat’ Warren Gatland opted to call on. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Paul O’Connell, just one of the ‘large slabs of meat’ Warren Gatland opted to call on. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho


‘Big Slabs of Meat’. That’s how The Sydney Morning Herald described Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad that faces the Wallabies in the June/July three-match Test series.

The Herald rugby columnist Paul Cully noted the inclusion of Paul O’Connell and Welsh flanker Dan Lydiate among the touring party, despite their unavailability through injury during the Six Nations.

“These are two of the hardest men on the northern scene…You suspect Gatland would have stood on front of the plane on the Heathrow tarmac to buy them enough time for them to board.”

There is already focus on the travelling Kiwis in the Lions squad, especially Sean Maitland, who is a cousin of Australia and Queensland outhalf Quade Cooper.

Both men are Kiwis masquerading as Lions/Wallabies.

It was also noted by the Herald that Australia coach Robbie Deans, another New Zealander, first picked Maitland for the Canterbury Crusaders in 2008.

But the Australians expect the Lions to target the perceived underbelly of their front five, with Deans adding the recently retired 116 capped lock Nathan Sharpe to the coaching ticket.

“Coach Warren Gatland has surveyed the menu in front of him and opted for red meat - large slabs of it.

“It is a statement of the obvious that the Lions are going to take the Wallabies on up front, particularly in the middle row. The omission of the likes of the athletic, skilled youngster Joe Launchbury - who enjoyed a tremendous finish to 2012 for England but by all reports fatigued as the season went on - and the presence of O’Connell brings steel, experience and nous to that department.”

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