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Paul O’Connell And Martin Johnson Pick Their ‘Lions XV’ From Round 3 Of The Six Nations

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Paul O'Connell of the British & Irish Lions looks on during the First Test match between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium on June 22, 2013 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The third round of Six Nations fixtures effectively saw this year’s championship become a three-horse race.

England kept their hopes of back-to-back grand slams alive, albeit with an unconvincing win against a strong tactical display from Conor O’Shea and Italy, while Ireland ground out a win against France in Dublin on Saturday.

Scotland, however, gave arguably the strongest performance of the weekend as their second half display against Wales at Murrayfield saw them score 20 unanswered points in an impressive 29-13 win.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Stuart Hogg of Scotland passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield Stadium on February 25, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The Irish and Scottish displays were acknowledged in some Six Nations ‘Best XVs” of the weekend (if not the official one).

In conjunction with their sponsorship of the Lions tour of New Zealand this year, Standard Life Inestments has enlisted four Lions legends – namely Paul O’Connell, Martin Johnson, Shane Williams and Gavin Hastings – to select their combined XV from each of the four Lions nations after every matchday.

O’Connell, veteran of three Lions tours (2005,2009,2013) has selected a XV that is, surprisingly, relatively evenly spread out between Ireland, Scotland and England, and has a spot for Mako Vunipola following his 25-minute substitute appearance at Twickenham:

Alun Wyn Jones also makes it in (as one of two Welsh inclusions), despite criticism around his role as captain in the defeat to Scotland.

Paul O’Connell’s Lions XV:  Stuart Hogg (Scotland); Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Jack Nowell (England); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland); Mako Vunipola (England), Rory Best (Ireland), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Jonny Gray (Scotland), Maro Itoje (England), John Barclay (Scotland), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Johnson, who also went on three tours (1993,1997,2001), has no such room for Vunipola on an all-Irish front row. Indeed, Joe Schmidt’s side dominate Johnson’s XV with no fewer than eight players named on the combined team:

The former England captain has been especially harsh on his own nation, with only Elliot Daly making the cut.

Martin Johnson’s Lions XV: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales); Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Garry Ringrose (Ireland), Alex Dunbar (Scotland), Elliot Daly (England); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland); Jack McGrath (Ireland), Rory Best (Ireland), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Richie Gray (Scotland), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Sam Warburton (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland).

Wales’ record try-scorer Williams (2005,2009,2013) continues Johnson’s theme of taking his own nation to task – though deviates from the above two lineups by picking prop Ken Owens ahead of Rory Best, and doesn’t pick Alun Wyn Jones.

Like Johnson and O’Connell (and Hastings, in fact), Williams has Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton in at scrum-half and outhalf respectively, though differs from the others by picking Nathan Hughes at number eight ahead of Jamie Heaslip.

Shane Williams’ Lions XV: Stuart Hogg (Scotland); Elliot Daly (England), Garry Ringrose (Ireland), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Tim Visser (Scotland); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland); Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Dan Cole (England), Joe Launchbury (England), Jonny Gray (Scotland), Maro Itoje (England), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Nathan Hughes (England).

And finally, Hastings (1989,1993) resisted what must have been a powerful urge to name an entire xv of his own countrymen, but did name five Scottish players in his lineup (as well as six from Ireland):

Gavin Hastings’ Lions XV: Stuart Hogg (Scotland); Jack Nowell (England), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Huw Jones (Scotland); Tim Visser (Scotland), Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland); Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jonny Gray (Scotland), Joe Launchbury (England), John Barclay (Scotland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland).

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Author: The PA Team

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