Bench concerns

Lewis Moody says the Lions have got the back row balance right but has concerns about the bench.

Last Updated: 21/06/13 at 13:34 Post Comment

Croft: in mesmerising form

Croft: in mesmerising form

The back row was always going to give the British and Irish Lions selectors a headache.

Many see the breakdown as a key area and, even without the likes of David Pocock and George Smith, Australia have two superb open side flankers in Michael Hooper and Liam Gill.

Sean O'Brien, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau have all stuck up their hands for a starting berth but Moody is pleased that Lions coach Warren Gatland has opted for Tom Croft at 6, skipper Sam Warburton at openside and Jamie Heaslip at No.8.

However, the former England ace told Sky Sports News he has some concerns with Dan Lydiate being the only back row cover on the bench.

"The back row that Gatland has chosen is for me the starting back row," said Moody.

"Heaslip's form during the Six Nations may not have quite been there but he has really come through on this tour.

"There have been a lot of players in the back row standing out - Sean O'Brien and Justin Tipuric have really played well, but perhaps the game against the Brumbies did not do them any favours.

"Dan Lydiate is on the bench and is rated very highly but I was surprised that they did not go for O'Brien or Tipuric who can cover both sides. Lydiate is predominantly a 6 or 8 and if Sam Warburton goes down then the Lions may have a problem covering 7.

"But the starting back row is very well balanced. Tom Croft is in mesmerising form and I just love the way he is playing at the moment. I hope Sam Warburton has a stormer. He has had a tough 12 months and I think he is worthy of a good performance on Saturday."

Master

Moody, who played with Croft at Leicester before moving to Bath, also paid tribute to another former Tigers team-mate who will make his Lions Test debut on Saturday.

"I don't think enough has been said about Tom Youngs' achievements," added Moody, who won 71 caps for England and three for the Lions.

"The technicalities of playing in the front row and at hooker are incredible - for Tom to master it in three years is something else.

"This is his first year as a Premiership rugby hooker. Heyneke Meyer (the former Leicester coach) suggested to Tom that he looked at playing hooker - he was a centre then, I played with him and he was a good centre.

"It was a big decision for him to make but he made a brave call and under Heyneke's guidance he went for it. He went to Nottingham on loan and played a season and half there - now he is starting for the Lions.

"It fills me with pride knowing how much work and effort he has put into being as good as he can be; I am absolutely chuffed for him."

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