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Former Lion Robinson names his XV to take on Australia... find out who he would make captain

  
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4/19/2013
By Joe Ridge (Daily Mail Online)


Having earned five Test caps for the British and Irish Lions, Jason Robinson knows a thing or two about what is required to wear the famous red jersey.

The former England wing played in all three Tests the last time the Lions toured Australia back in 2001, scoring in the first and last matches of the series as the Wallabies came from behind to win 2-1.
 
Ahead of head coach Warren Gatland's squad announcement next month, the 2003 World Cup winner has picked the 15 men he would like to see start the first Test in Brisbane on June 22.
 
 
Robinson's side is dominated by Welshmen, with eight of the team that so convincingly dismantled England to clinch the Six Nations crown in March getting the nod.
 
Robinson explains: 'The stage was set for the top two to go head-to-head and Wales were worthy winners. There is bound to be a strong Welsh contingent heading down to Australia.
 
'From an English point of view I would have liked to have put a few more in there, but whilst there were some great performances from the likes of Owen Farrell and Chris Robshaw it is hard to pick them above the other guys.
 
'I think the problem with the Six Nations was that that last game was so bad that it took a lot of shine off everything else England had done.'
 
Even so, Robinson still feels there will be a strong English contingent on the plane. He has tipped Manu Tuilagi to make a big impact and feels that Farrell and Robshaw will have a part to play despite not making his XV.
 
'Owen Farrell could step up to 10,' admits Robinson, who has opted for Ireland's Jonathan Sexton as his starting fly-half. 'If we take that last game out of the equation he has shown that he has got a very good boot, makes his tackles and he has done exceptionally well. So you could slot him in there quite easily. 
 
'And Manu Tuilagi, whilst he's not the most creative centre about, there is no doubt about it that he finds holes. He causes a lot of problems to any any defence.
 
'He has not made my starting XV but you would definitely want Chris Robshaw on the touring party and probably on the bench. He has been exceptional for England and I think the way he has developed as a player and as a captain has been fantastic. 
 
'In the autumn he made a few errors in terms of his captaincy but he took it on the chin, came out and worked exceptionally hard. But Justin Tipuric has been outstanding as well.
 
'You look at the England game and the thing with Tipuric was his play out wide, he was running like an outside back and causing England lots of problems, and the work that he did as well was fantastic. He can do the graft but be can also play in the three-quarters. 
 
'Him and Sam Warburton in that last game were awesome and helped destroy England, so that's why I would want to partner those two.'
 
Flanker Warburton is among those being touted for the captaincy, along with Irish pair Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell, with some tipping Robshaw as an outside bet.
It will be a very tight call, but for Robinson there is only one man who should get the job.
 
Explaining his choice, Robinson says: 'It might be a romantic idea but I think Brian O'Driscoll could certainly do it. The way it finished for him in the Six Nations - for me good players don't go out like that. 
 
'I can see him having a massive impact out there in Australia. My money would be on him to be named captain. 
'I just think there is more to come from him to finish off what has been an outstanding international career.'
 
O'Connell, captain in 2009, does not make Robinson's team, but like Robshaw, Robinson feels the lock could be a key member of the touring party. 
 
'As an ex-captain Paul O'Connell is a Martin Johnson-type figure,' says Robinson. 'He leads from the front. He had an opportunity against Harlequins to show that he is back and he is capable and he did just that. He could slot in there very easily. 
 
'When you go over to Australia experience is key. Yes, you want to have players who are on form, but that experience at key times of the game is vital. 
 
'Joe Launchbury is in my side because of what he did in the Six Nations, whether he stays in that team come the first Test we will have to wait and see how he plays between now and then, but I think either one of those could partner Alun-Wyn Jones - who has struggled with injuries but the impact he had when he came back in at the end of the Six Nations was amazing. 
 
'That's what you want when it comes to the crunch and to the pressure games. When all eyes are on you, can you deliver? Jones was one of those Welsh guys who delivered for all to see.'
 
As arguably one of the finest outside backs that the home nations have produced, Robinson has plenty of expert knowledge to use when deciding his starting back three.
Six Nations player of the tournament Leigh Halfpenny is included, but not in the full-back role that he has performed in so expertly for Wales of late.
 
'Leigh Halfpenny has been outstanding,' said Robinson. 'I didn't really want to move him from 15 because he has done so well for Wales there - he has been outstanding under the high ball and he has tackled well above his weight - but Rob Kearney is such a smart player.
 
'It's all about having options and in Halfpenny you have fantastic kicker as well, so that would take the pressure off the 10. Australia are a very smart team so you need to make sure you have got all the options. 
 
With George North in there too, Robinson is confident his back three would pose the Wallabies plenty of problems. 'As Clive Woodward would say it's responding to pressure with pressure, once people are putting those high balls up it's all about the counter attack and I think with those three, who are all great in the air - and George North is obviously a big, powerful runner - they would make sure the pressure was diffused and reapply it.'
 
In terms of the Tests themselves, Robinson expects the scrum to be a key area if the Lions are to prevail. Cian Healy, Rory Best and Adam Jones are all renowned scrummagers, and Robinson feels it is an area that the Lions will target.
'I think any Lions team is always going to try and attack Australia at the scrum,' he said. 'Australia are not known for being the best when it comes to scrum time, although they have certainly made massive improvements and it won't be easy. 
 
'As a back it's not very often I admit it but the forwards lay the platform. If you get a solid scrum, a scrum that's going forward, that makes life so much easier. You have got to lay the platform and I am sure the Lions will be going after them in that area.
 
'But Australia are a smart team. You have got guys like Will Genia in there who you have got be fearful of around the breakdown. They can punish you from anywhere on the field. 
 
'If they get it right they can play a wide game and that could potentially cause the Lions a lot of problems. They have got lots of different individuals who on their day can rip a defence to shreds.'
 
So what does Jason Robinson think the score will be come the end of the final Test on July 6? 
 
'I'm going the opposite of 2001. I'm hoping for a 2-1 Lions win,' he said. 'That was the one that got away and I have just got a really good feeling about this. 
 
'It's certainly going to be very tough but hopefully the Lions will be successful and the players themselves will create history.'
 
Jason Robinson's Lions XV
 
15 Rob Kearney (Ireland)
14 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
13 Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland)
12 Manu Tuilagi (England) 
11 George North (Wales)
10 Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)
9 Mike Phillips (Wales)
1 Cian Healy (Ireland)
2 Rory Best (Ireland)
3 Adam Jones (Wales)
4 Joe Launchbury (England)
5 Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
6 Sam Warburton (Wales)
8 Toby Faletau (Wales)
7 Justin Tipuric (Wales)