Lions all-time XV – Full-back

What would your dream British & Irish Lions XV of all-time look like? Here we look at the stand-out candidates at each position, starting with full-back: Tell us who you think should make the team, we'll add up the votes and publish the all-time Lions XV, as selected by the fans. [more]

Lions all-time XV – Full-back

What would your dream British & Irish Lions XV of all-time look like? Here we look at the stand-out candidates at each position, starting with full-back: Tell us who you think should make the team, we’ll add up the votes and publish the all-time Lions XV, as selected by the fans.

When you think of that famous No.15 red jersey inevitably three initials spring to mind – JPR.

JPR Williams, one of the greatest to ever play the game, the Welshman was a rock on both the 1971 and 1974 Lions series wins.

The Welshman slotted the drop-goal that sealed the series win against New Zealand in ‘71, the last and only time the tourists have beaten the All Blacks, and was a key cog in the famous ‘74 Invincibles that went to South Africa and emerged unbeaten.

Then there is Andy Irvine. The Scot had to bide his time before getting his chance in the full-back shirt as JPR’s brilliance forced him to settle for a spot on the wing on the 1974 tour.

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But Irvine was soon established as the mainstay at full-back, starting all four tests against the All Blacks in 1977 and three more against South Africa in 1980.

An unerring goal kicker and an elusive runner, Irvine was one of the greatest attacking full-backs the game has ever seen who remains the leading points scorer in the tourists’ history with 274.

Irvine’s status as the greatest ever Scottish full-back is challenged by one man, Gavin Hastings.

Hastings started all three Tests on both the tours he was involved in, the 1989 victory over Australia and the 1993 defeat to the All Blacks and finished with 170 points in his Lions career.

No discussion of great Lions full-backs is complete without mentioning Neil Jenkins however.

Primarily a fly-half, the Welshman started all three tests in the No.15 jersey during the Lions famous 1997 tour victory over the Springboks and also toured Australia four years later.

Indeed while Jerry Guscott’s drop goal may take most of the plaudits for the series win in South Africa, there is no doubt that without Jenkins’ unerring place-kicking the tourists would not have emerged victorious from that series.

And last but by no means least Leigh Halfpenny, player of the series this summer, who turned in one of the great performances by a Lions full-back.

21 points in the decisive Sydney match is a record for a Lion during a Test and the 24-year-old has already cemented his name along the all-time greats.  

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