"It may come as no surprise that I see Nick Easter as the Test No8. I have more opportunity to see him as we both work for Harlequins, but he is an outstanding footballer," Richards said in his column in The Times.
"Of all the No8s in the Home Nations, he is the one with the most experience and understanding of the role. The tour would suit him down to the ground and he would relish the physicality of the matches. Nick's ball handling is second to none and while he does push the odd pass in certain situations, mainly he is very good.
"Nick is quicker than people think. His workrate is extremely high, he can organise a lineout and he's a leader in his own right. He has the experience, too - he's played in a World Cup final, against South Africa, and this tour comes at just the right time for him."
Richards, who faced the Wallabies and All Blacks but not the Boks as a Lion, believes the back row battle will be key during the three-match series against the world champions.
The former Leicester stalwart was a hard working and equally hard hitting No8 and he feels the class of 2009 will have to show similar resolve and fortitude if they are to compete with a powerful Springbok pack.
"Schalk Burger has become something of a talisman for the Springboks. He sets the tone at the breakdown, where the Lions will have to be at their combative best. They must expect a battle at the tackle area every time and if we don't select players who are just as physical, just as competitive, we will struggle," Richards continued in The Times.
"Plenty of players have laid down a claim (for the No8 berth) over the past year - Jamie Heaslip has had a thoroughly good season with Ireland, Ryan Jones has had a tussle for the Wales place with Andy Powell, while Scotland have Simon Taylor, who has twice started Lions tours only to be injured at the earliest opportunity. Eight years on from his first tour, Taylor should have proved his quality by now, but he has suffered from being in a poor Scotland pack this year.
"Powell has fantastic qualities, pace and strength among them, but his form has dropped off a bit. Jones is also a candidate for blind-side flanker, but I see the primary battle for the No8 shirt between Easter and Heaslip.
"Alongside Nick as flankers should be David Wallace, on the open side, and Tom Croft on the blind side. The Wales-Ireland game at the end of the Six Nations was like a final trial between Wallace and Martyn Williams and the Irishman is just that bit bigger, that bit stronger.
"Williams probably cheats better than he does, and I say that not in any critical way because that is what the world's best open-sides always have done. Look at Richie McCaw and George Smith and the furious criticism they've received playing for New Zealand and Australia. Martyn is much the same, but David has the greater presence, which will be needed in South Africa.
"Croft is getting better and better. He has great footballing skills - he has pace, he carries the ball well and I don't know why England didn't start him more frequently at No6. He's one of those players you can build a back row around: he can defend well, he's a wonderful option at the lineout and, to my mind, he's an automatic Test selection.
"That's not to say that Stephen Ferris hasn't had a great season for Ireland and he will push Tom all the way. A lot depends on whether the Lions take six or seven back-row forwards and how they perceive Ryan Jones. Then you have a multipurpose forward such as Joe Worsley, who has gone so well for England this year on the open side.
"But whoever forms the back row, they have to be intelligent and streetwise to go up against the Juan Smiths and Burgers of this world."