Bath boss backs hooker for Lions call

Bath coach John Connolly has backed the claims of uncapped hooker Lee Mears as a possible wildcard selection for this summer's British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Bath coach John Connolly has backed the claims of uncapped hooker Lee Mears as a possible wildcard selection for this summer’s British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

Lions boss Sir Clive Woodward will announce his 44-man squad on Monday, and the hooking position is a potential problem area.

Mears, 26, again underlined his superb club form by outplaying England hooker Steve Thompson as Bath easily overcame Zurich Premiership opponents Northampton at the Recreation Ground 30-12.

Lions selections are renowned for containing surprise call-ups, and Connolly believes that Mears fits the bill.

"He scrummaged better than Thompson, he is certainly a better lineout thrower, and he is better than the Irish hooker (Shane Byrne) by a country mile," said Connolly.

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"Lee would go well in the southern hemisphere. His throwing is very good, his scrummaging is very good and his set-piece game will stand up."

Connolly also predicted that lock Danny Grewcock and prop Matt Stevens are "probable certainties" to tour, and he also believes that centre Olly Barkley, prop Duncan Bell and lock Steve Borthwick have strong claims.

Skipper Borthwick though, is now a cause of concern for Bath ahead of next Saturday’s Powergen Cup Final against Leeds at Twickenham after he suffered a shoulder problem.

Bath’s comfortable win, secured by tries from wing Joe Maddock, centre Andrew Higgins and Bell, took them into third place above Sale Sharks and with a strong chance of making next month’s Premiership play-off semi-final against Wasps or Leicester.

Bath are in control of their own destiny, and victories in their remaining two games against strugglers London Irish and Leeds will guarantee them a top three finish.

"We are into third place now, and there is a lot to play for. Gloucester and Newcastle have probably dropped out of the race, and it is probably between ourselves, Sale and Saracens for third.

"This side believes it can perform well against anyone, and at this time of year it is important to keep trying to get better".

Connolly also revealed that former England prop David Flatman had attended Lions fitness testing this week, but he also confirmed no imminent return to action for injury-hit centre Mike Tindall.

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