CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Gatland tense about Toby
9:20am Thursday 21st March 2013 in Sport
NAMING the XV that you think will turn out for the British and Irish Lions is all good fun but ultimately pointless.
There is still plenty of time for the best-laid plans to lie in tatters, as was shown in 2009.
An eye gouge (Alan Quinlan) or an unfortunate injury (Leigh Halfpenny and Tom Shanklin) changes everything.
The past few weeks has shown that there is strength in depth in most positions with pretty much the entire Wales XV set to tour (Dan Biggar the only ‘maybe’?) and fight it out for Test starts.
But Warren Gatland watches action through his fingers for the rest of the season, especially when it comes to certain positions.
And I’d argue that it’s encounters involving Newport Gwent Dragons that will make the boss particularly twitchy.
Tighthead Adam Jones and full-back Leigh Halfpenny are shoo-ins but deputies Dan Cole and Stuart Hogg are no mugs.
But who is the alternative to number eight Toby Faletau?
Ryan Jones is a fitness doubt, Jamie Heaslip is in poor form, Tom Wood and Sean O’Brien are sixes who can play eight and Ben Morgan only lasts an hour.
So while others are watching the RaboDirect Pro12 playoff battle, the head coach may be engrossed in the Dragons’ scrap to avoid finishing bottom but one.