What would your dream British & Irish Lions XV of all-time look like? Here we look at the stand-out candidates at each position, with the next installment of this series looking at the tighthead prop: 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.
As Warren Gatland’s men showed this summer in Australia, a successful Lions team starts with a dominant scrum.
So when it comes to picking the tighthead prop, the priority has to be in finding someone who can get on top of his opposite number in the scrum to lay the platform for the team to cut loose. Luckily for the Lions, dominant tightheads are not in short supply.
Having already mentioned this summer’s tour to Australia, it makes sense to start with Adam Jones as our first candidate.
The Welshman started all three Tests against the Wallabies, having impressed four years earlier in South Africa when he replaced a struggling Phil Vickery to shore up the Lions front row in the first Test, before starting the second.
Jones follows in the footsteps of a great number of Welsh tightheads, with arguably none more fearsome than Graham Price, part of the great Pontypool front row of the 1970s.
A great scrummager, Price was also a livewire in the loose, arguably the fore runner for the athletes found in the front row today, and that was rewarded with 12 straight appearances for the side between 1977 and 1983.
Our other Welsh nominee holds his very own place in Lions history as the only man to tour in three separate decades.
Dai Young, the current Wasps coach, made his Lions bow in 1989 on the successful tour to Australia, before joining the Welsh exodus to rugby league the following year.
His time away from union obviously didn’t slow him down as he was picked again by Sir Ian McGeechan in 1997 before a call-up from Graham Henry in 2001 to make history.
Young was then granted the honour of coaching the Barbarians this year in their historic Test against the Lions in Hong Kong.
Moving away from the Principality it’s impossible to ignore one of Ireland’s greatest Lions, Sean Lynch.
Starting all four Tests on the 1971 tour to New Zealand, Lynch is part of the only team in Lions history to down the famous All Blacks in a series.
Another from the Emerald Isle to make an impact in red came 26 years later as the Springboks discovered that bigger is not always better.
In an attempt to unsettle the South African front row, McGeechan went for shorter, technical scrummagers in his front row, with Paul Wallace ending up as captain Martin Johnson’s player of the tour for his efforts in nullifying Os Du Randt.
Finally there are two nominations from England, with arguably the most versatile pair Fran Cotton and Jason Leonard, who were capable of playing at both loosehead and tighthead.
World Cup winner Leonard went on three tours between 1993 and 2001, starting all three Tests in New Zealand as part of the last Lions team to win a Test over the All Blacks, before coming off the bench for the Test team in each of the following two tours.
Arguably more of a loosehead, Cotton showed how effective he could be on the other side of the scrum by helping the Lions get the better of their South African counterparts on his Lions debut in 1974.
His Lions heritage doesn’t end there though, as he managed the side in 1997 which went back to South Africa to beat the Springboks once more.