England World Cup winner and British & Irish rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson is among the most celebrated No 10s to have ever played the game. When he talks No 10s, you listen. Well, he’s talking No 10s for the British & Irish Lions three-Test series against South Africa. And, if Wilkinson were the sole selector he wouldn’t be choosing England’s Owen Farrell to start the first Test at No 10.
Wilkinson knows Farrell will be on the tour, given his ability to play flyhalf and inside centre. He also knows that Lions coach Warren Gatland rates Farrell.
However, in an interview on RugbyPass, Wilkinson listed his top four Lions flyhalf candidates, and Farrell came in fourth.
Wilkinson summarised the merits of the four flyhalf contenders, one from each of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and opted for Wales’s Dan Biggar as his first choice.
Here’s what Wilkinson had to say:
No 4: Owen Farrell: He was great back in 2017. The Lions team really turned up against the World Cup champions and gave as good as they got. He’ll be in and around the squad again.
No 3: Finn Russel: He’s a game winner, and is probably one of the most exciting players not only at fly-half, but in world rugby. He could really ignite a bit of flair in the team and get everyone else playing. He has the it-factor.
No 2: Jonny Sexton: ‘I think younger me would go straight for Johnny Sexton as he’s a guy that you know exactly what you’re getting in terms of control of the game. He seems to be able to wear the world on his shoulders, which you need on a Lions tour.
No 1: Dan Biggar: He’s got a real mix of all the other options on the table and brings a bit of everything to the party. He has a really interesting energy about him aswell, which I really like.
England’s Wilkinson played 91 Tests for England and six for the Lions and scored 1246 Test points. He won the World Cup with England in 2003, kicking an extra time right footed drop goal to beat Australia.