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The Tight Five | Who are the Lions contenders putting their hands up?

After Alan Quinlan ran the microscope over Ireland's performance against France yesterday, I deci...



The Tight Five | Who are the L...
Rugby

The Tight Five | Who are the Lions contenders putting their hands up?

After Alan Quinlan ran the microscope over Ireland's performance against France yesterday, I decided to to make the scope for this week's Tight Five a little bit broader.

Of course, we had to touch on elements of Ireland's poor attack, as well as the possible changes we'd like to see for the trip to Rome in a fortnight's time, but we also checked in on Saturday's games, as Wales defied both the odds and the stats sheet to beat Scotland and make it two wins from two, while England enjoyed some favourable refereeing in their 41-18 win against Italy - a most unreflective scoreline.

You can check in on those topics in the video above, but the remaining pointer was on the players who are starting to put their hands up for Lions selection in the opening two rounds of games.

A large portion of the squad picks itself, so we are more concerned about those players who may not have been automatic picks in the eyes of the public a couple of months ago, but are making real cases for themselves in the eyes of Warren Gatland over the course of the last few games.

IRELAND

From Ireland, there are some players who are strengthening their case for selection. Andrew Porter has been excellent in his opening two matches, and given Tadhg Furlong's reputation, it's quite possible we could have two Irish tightheads in the touring party.

Stuart Hogg's recent form has arguably locked in his place as a test starter at fullback, but Hugo Keenan's performances recently will have put himself in consideration for a place in the wider group. However, he'll need Warren Gatland to be taking a chance on him, given the previous Lions experience that Hogg, Liam Williams and Elliot Daly all hold.

One other Irish player making waves is Tadhg Beirne. He was slightly quieter against France yesterday, but he's still been Ireland's most involved player across almost all facets of their game. And his versatility makes him ideal for touring rugby.

SCOTLAND

In Wales and Scotland, you arguably have the largest contingent of players who are making late cases for themselves to be called in.

Cameron Redpath was outstanding on his Scottish debut a week ago and was badly missed in Saturday's defeat to the Welsh, the son of former Scotland captain Bryan is a real contender to be a bolter from nowhere in Gatland's selection. Taking aside Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Rory Sutherland, who were already well fancied to be part of the squad, a number of others are showing eye-catching form. Hamish Watson has been all-action across the first two games, while hooker George Turner has been solid and efficient during these two games, displaying good form in a position that is realistically up for grabs.

WALES

In Wales, Louis Rees Zammit was someone we mentioned in advance of the tournament as being a potential Lions bolter, and the 20-year-old is delivering in spades. His acrobatic finish in the corner against Ireland was followed up by another spectacular try versus Scotland on Saturday, and he now looks more probable than possible to be a Lions tourist this summer.

Wyn Jones has been excellent - particularly in the tight - in his opening two games, and definitely looks like a contender for loosehead, a depth chart that looks to be wide open below Rory Sutherland. Justin Tipuric may have been a tourist in 2017, but he was arguably on the periphery of consideration until recently, when his form exploded into life. He now looks right back in the mix to travel.

My real Welsh outsider would be Adam Beard. The 6ft 8in Ospreys lock is a real nuisance at the maul, and worth keeping a further eye over the next few weeks.

Finally from England, it's difficult to pick out any real standout performers in the opening games. Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler brought some more stability to the pack, but both would have already been well in the Lions mix to begin will. Jonny Hill's continued presence in the starting line up will bring him closer to selection, while Luke Cowan Dickie's presence looked a better fit at hooker, one that will concern Jamie George both for international and Lions duty.

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Read more about

Cameron Redpath Hugo Keenan Lions Bolters Rrory Sutherland Stuart Hogg Wyn Jones