Lions 2013 Locks - Where Are They Now?
The third in a seven-part series in the run up to this summer’s selection, taking a look at the 2013 incumbents and their chances of being selected again.
2013 tour: A survivor from the 2009 tour, Jones carried on as he was, which is being one of the best locks Wales have ever had. Started all three tests and captained the big win in the third.
Since then: That’s generally the sort of thing that gives you a bit of confidence. Has piled up another 40 international caps and took up the captaincy from Warburton for a second time this year when put in charge of Wales. Had a bit of a wobble against Scotland, but came back strongly in his most recent outings.
Touring chances: 95%. The competition in the second row is fierce, so there exists a universe in which Alun Wyn doesn’t play for the Lions, but it’s not the one we live in.
2013 tour: Not just a pretty face, O’Connell was a nailed on starter for the Tests in 2013 after having captained the 2009 tour and continued a stellar career for Munster and Ireland. Played the first test before a broken arm sidelined him for the rest of the tour.
Since then: O’Connell took over from O’Driscoll as permanent Ireland captain and won the six nations twice, being the cornerstone of Ireland’s rise through the rankings under Joel Schmidt. O’Connell retired from internationals after the 2015 World Cup. He was lined up for a move to Toulon, because that is just what former internationals do, but instead announced his retirement from all rugby in early 2016 due to injury. Now he can be found as a six nations pundit that’s a notable improvement on Jonothan Davies.
Touring chances: 0%. Commentating is probably an easier gig. Hope he gets brought in as a motivational speaker.
2013 tour: One of Stuart Lancaster’s early picks for his new-look England team in 2012, ‘Generous’ Geoff Parling cemented his place the following year and earned a Lions call up on the basis that someone from England’s second row had to go, and 21-year old Joe Launchbury was considered too raw. Parling probably expected to be a midweek player, but strong performances against the club sides and an injury to Paul O’Connell saw him start the second and third tests. A try saving tap-tackle on Jesse Mogg in the third test remains his career highlight.
Since then: A few injuries led to several other locks being considered for England, such as Attwood, Kruis and Lawes, and most recently Itoje. Somewhat unfortunately for Parling, they are all better than him. There just isn’t room for a solid lineout specialist in an England pack any more, and Parling found himself mostly out of favour from 2014 on. Seeking shelter from Leicester’s ever growing injury list, Parling was one of several players to defect to Exeter in 2015. His last appearances for England were in the ill fated 2015 world cup, and has not been considered in any of Eddie Jones’ England squads.
Touring chances: 1%. Parling is really just a good club forward now. A severe fire would be needed at the next annual general meeting of european second rows.
2013 tour: Having played for Scotland and Glasgow for a few years, by 2013 the senior Gray had completed a season in the Premiership. Being fast-tracked through a standard career meant he was heading into the top 14 aged 23, which is 10 years earlier than most internationals. The fusion-powered giraffe was a largely uncontroversial midweek player for the Lions, making five appearances including the final 13 minutes of the test series, as a sub.
Since then: Playing as a regular for Castres and now Toulouse in the meat grinder that is the top 14, Gray has perhaps not grasped the potential that might be expected of someone who broke into internationals at the age of 20. But he remains a fine athlete and mainstay for club and country.
Touring chances: 15%. He’s not gone anywhere (in a manner of speaking. Technically, he’s gone to France) but everyone else has caught him up. Most notably his brother Jonny has become Scotland’s best lock, and there won’t be room for both Grays.
2013 tour: One of several Wales players whose outstanding form in 2012-13 carried them to back to back Six Nations titles. Evans was most likely picked over Joe Launchbury thanks to coming out on top of the England pack physically in that year’s famous Cardiff match. Also one of the last of the now largely unfashionable ‘enforcer’ style locks, Evans played in four tour matches and no tests.
Since then: Evans lost his place in the Wales side for the 2014 Six Nations when he copped a ban for stamping on Mike McCarthy in a European cup game. Luke Charteris was preferred over him from then on. In the summer of that year, Evans cemented his place as an ex-Wales international by signing for Bristol. This season, and the grand old age of 32, he started coaching, currently for Treorchy in Welsh village rugby.
Touring chances: 0%. Ieuan Evans is roughly as likely a selection.
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