Gerry Thornley: "Would he have done this if the Lions were one-nil up in the series?"

He analyses the Sexton-Farrell axis ahead of the second test on Saturday

BY Simon Maguire 21:56 Friday 30 June 2017, 21:56 30 Jun 2017

The Lions' Owen Farrell and Jonathan Sexton. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Warren Gatland's decision to start both Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell on Saturday has prompted much discussion on the topic. 

Ben Te'o marshalled Sonny Bill Williams well while he was on the field during the first test but the inclusion of Sexton at his expense gives the Lions more attacking options. 

Gerry Thornley of the Irish Times joined Friday night's Off the Ball and speaking to Adrian Barry he said: "I think it's very much the case of going with two play-makers will put more passing in their game because Ben Te'o has many strengths to his game in carrying and tackling and so forth, but passing wouldn't be one of them.


Lions' Owen Farrell and Ben Te’o tackle Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks. Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Marty Melville

"As we saw in the first test when he hardly passed a ball at all all night, whereas this gives them passing but most of all it gives them a very strong kicking game. 

"They can sweep either side. They should be able to, with two good right-footed kickers and two left-footed kickers behind the back-line - they should have lots and lots of options. When it comes to playing territory, they should be fairly good at that.

"The problem with that is if you just keep giving the ball back to New Zealand - they're liable not to give it back to you and you end up doing an awful lot of tackling. It does give them a strong kicking game.

"I think the concern would be that given the foul weather forecast, it might have been more of a night for Ben Te'o to truck it up and to take on Sonny Bill Williams physically because he's very much a key player for the All Blacks on a bad night."

Thornley goes on to describe Sexton's consistent improvement on the tour and how he and Farrell appear to have clicked seamlessly. He also discusses Rassie Erasmus' departure from Munster. 

You can listen to the full interview here:


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