Taylor: Shanklin has it all

Mark Taylor is backing Wales colleague Tom Shanklin to make a massive impression on the British & Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand this summer. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Mark Taylor is backing Wales colleague Tom Shanklin to make a massive impression on the British & Irish Lions’ tour of New Zealand this summer.

Wales centre Taylor – a Lion in 2001 – believes Shanklin has what it takes to partner captain Brian O’Driscoll in the three-Test series against Graham Henry’s All Blacks.

Gavin Henson received a lot of the plaudits during Wales’ Grand Slam triumph this year, but Taylor, who has 49 caps to his name, reckons Shanklin’s performances were also invaluable to Mike Ruddock’s team.

"Shanks’ contribution should not be under-estimated," Taylor told the Western Mail.

"He has got everything; he’s big, strong and quick, has got good skills and his defence is good. Shanks is not someone you can pick a hole in."

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Taylor, meanwhile, has warned compatriots Martyn Williams, Gethin Jenkins, Dwayne Peel and Stephen Jones – all prime candidates for Lions Test spots – that the hard work is only just beginning.

"All the boys have done tremendously well this year, but they are up against the cream of the northern hemisphere," said Taylor.

"They have all got to go to New Zealand and, hopefully, prove they are good enough for the Test team.

"Maybe I’m biased because I played with the half-backs at the (Llanelli) Scarlets, but I believe Dwayne and Stephen have got a real shout of making it.

"Dwayne has come on so much. I wouldn’t say he is a different player to when I first met him because he had all the skills then, but he has matured so well to that he can now dominate a game.

"And Stephen’s skill at controlling a game have gone up another notch. I don’t know whether it is because he is playing in France or because he has just matured, but Stephen is just on top of his game.

"It’s a joy to watch. He just seems to have so much time on the ball with everything coming so easily to him.

"Although Martyn was the Six Nations player of the tournament, the award could have gone to Gethin, Stephen or Dwayne. That says something about their Lions’ chances."

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