Lions rematch in Newcastle

Lions fans can take a trip down memory lane this weekend when Newcastle Falcons take on Cardiff Blues at Kingston Park. [more]

Lions rematch in Newcastle

Lions fans can take a trip down memory lane this weekend when Newcastle Falcons take on Cardiff Blues at Kingston Park.

Newcastle’s Carl Hayman and the Blues’ Gethin Jenkins go head-to-head in the front row in a mouth-watering rematch of the 2005 Lions series in New Zealand.

Hayman and Jenkins were on opposing sides when the Lions took on the All Blacks in the first Test in Christchurch five years ago.

And although it was the Kiwis who came out on top that day, Jenkins’ own reputation has continued to flourish.

The 29-year-old played all three Tests for the 2009 Lions in South Africa and is now widely regarded as the world’s finest loosehead.

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Throw in Hayman’s status as the best tighthead in the game and Sunday’s match up could be a real cracker. 

"I have clashed with Gethin on a few occasions at Test level and he is a great competitor," said Hayman, who will move to France to join fellow Amlin Challenge Cup quarter finalists Toulon next season.

"He has been involved in the Wales set-up for quite some time and that shows his quality.

"You don’t play that many games for your country, and the Lions, if you have any weaknesses. He is very good around the field and his scrummaging is very good as well.

"He is part of a very strong Cardiff Blues pack and it is going to be an interesting battle.”

The respect shown by Hayman is echoed by Jenkins.

The former Celtic Warriors and Pontypridd star knows just how good the giant Kiwi is, despite Hayman’s continued absence from international rugby due to his decision to move away from his native New Zealand.

"Hayman’s a great tight-head, one of the best in the world and one of the best I’ve played against,” said Jenkins.

"He’s technically good because he’s so tall yet gets close to the ground, but you always want to challenge yourself against the best in the business.

"It’s not just about me. The other seven forwards have to help out and as a pack we’ve got to stand up to them."

Former Lions star and now Blues coach Dai Young believes Hayman is undoubtedly the finest scrummaging tight-head role anywhere on the globe but he is quick to highlight the all-round attributes of his own player when looking ahead to Sunday’s trip north.

Young, himself a formidable prop who toured three times with the Lions in 1989, 1997 and 2001, is convinced that Jenkins’ work-rate, tackle count, yardage, offloading ability, handling skills and setpiece work make him the most complete prop forward in the world.

"Gethin will be licking his lips to face the world’s best," said Young.

"Carl is by far the best scrummaging tight-head in the world.

"Look at the stats and Gethin’s work-rate is phenomenal. Now and again people doubt his scrummaging, but when he’s asked to do it he can.

"I’m really looking forward to the scrummaging battle, but I believe that Gethin stands on his own as a rugby-playing prop."

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