Lions triumph leaves Gatland’s Wales looking good for future success
An Englishman, an Irishman and (two) Welshmen – it almost reads like the start of a joke, but tries from Alex Corbisiero, Jonathan Sexton, George North and Jamie Roberts left the Aussies less than amused in Sydney.
As the Lions claimed their first tour series in 16 years, there is perhaps one home nation that can take more solace from the performance of Warren Gatland’s men in terms of future international success.
The head coach clearly favoured players he knew and trusted to do the business, with 15 Welshmen in his Lions squad.
And those selected certainly repaid their 49 year-old national coach for the faith shown in them.
Leigh Halfpenny was lethal with the boot, Adam Jones was a monster in the scrum, while the leadership of Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn-Jones played a huge part throughout the three Tests.
Triumphant in this year’s Six Nations, it is hard to see Wales not being the immediate front runners in the race for next year’s premier European international competition.
Priced at 2/1, they look a great pick to become the first side to claim the tournament three years running.
As well as the aforementioned quartet, a fearsome up and coming trio of relative youngsters in George North, Toby Faletau and Alex Cuthbert are sure to leave the competition with plenty to think about.
England weren’t far behind them in this years Six Nations, but with them priced as second favourites at 9/4 to claim next years renewal, their eventual conquerors are the ones that look the value.
In truth, the others look like they are playing catch-up.
France, in particular, will want to make amends for their wooden spoon-claiming efforts this year, but two wins in eight internationals wouldn’t fill backers with any sort of confidence.
Elsewhere, Ireland will take some comfort in the performances of their Lions representatives, but with an ageing squad, experience of big games will need to be a major factor for Joe Schmidt’s side to succeed. Unfortunately for them, experience alone won’t win you tournaments.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing