The red jersey of the Lions has been worn by the greatest players ever to come out of Britain and Ireland. Think Gareth Edwards, Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O’Driscoll. Every squad selected must be full with incredible talent to allow them to compete with the southern hemisphere’s finest.
This got me thinking, who are the worst players to have played for the Lions?
In 2001, the Lions played an extremely strong Australia side, the reigning World Cup and Tri Nations champions. Every member of the squad needed to be at their best. When Dan Luger pulled out with an injury a strange call-up was made by Graham Henry. The diminutive Ulster winger was yet to score an international try in his handful of caps and was just recovering from a potentially career-threatening injury.
Whilst making no impact at all in the Test series Howe played in two midweek matches. A career blighted by injury, only managing 14 caps for Ireland he must count himself lucky to have represented the Lions.
The 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand was infamous, with just about everything going wrong. Choosing to select an enormous 44-man squad, Clive Woodward made several left field selections. None more so than a Sale Sharks hooker with only two caps for England.
A dynamic and energetic forward, Titterrell’s small stature and weakness in the set-piece was exposed on the tour. He had an impressive club career, including winning the 2006 Premiership title with Sale. Nevertheless, his technical and physical skills were not good enough for the Lions.
The Brisbane-born Irish loosehead prop was a case of right time, right place when called up to cover for Alex Corbisiero. On holiday with his family in Australia at the time of the 2013 tour he thought the call-up was a prank.
Whilst not selected for the Test team, the London Irish man must be considered one of the strangest call-ups in Lions history. He made no real impact to the trip but held up the scrum against the Melbourne Rebels.
Another bizarre call-up on the 2013 tour, the inside centre was brought in due to the glut of injuries sustained in the midfield. Amassing 19 international caps the Gloucester man always flattered to deceive.
Selected due to his ball playing and kicking options, he never showcased his full potential. Now stranded in the international wilderness, one must assume he was fetched due to the convenience of him playing for England in Argentina.
Jonny Wilkinson, Barry John, Phil Bennett, all fantastic and beloved fly-halves that have represented the Lions. Whilst discussing the greatest number 10s to pull on the red jersey, Stuart Barnes, the man described as the ‘Bath Barrel’ does not appear in the conversation. Now a divisive and opinionated rugby commentator and writer, the 5’6″ stand off was stranded in the international wilderness when selected for the 1993 tour of New Zealand.
First capped in 1984, he only represented England ten times, frequently criticised for his inability to convert his magnificent form for Bath onto the international stage. Ultimately after a torrid tour, losing six of 13 matches played, Barnes served as a perfect microcosm for its inadequate results, just not good enough
Aled Price, Pundit Arena
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