With the squad now announced the time has come to take a closer look at those who will be playing for the Lions in a few weeks.
The front row has seen one critical rule change in the last year – there are now three front row replacements on the bench, so the role of the utility prop, he who can play loosehead or tighthead, has been somewhat diminished.
In 2009 the front row was the most important factor in South Africa’s series win. Following some strong performances in the provincial games, the Lions chose a front row combination of Gethin Jenkins, Lee Mears and Phil Vickery to start the match with Matthew Rees and Adam Jones on the bench. The idea was that Mears and Vickery would offer more impact in loose play, but it quickly became apparent that the Springboks were a far superior scrummaging outfit than the provincial teams had been, and the Lions conceded penalty after penalty as the scrum buckled. The game turned around when Matthew Rees and Adam Jones replaced Mears and Vickery but by then it was too late. A week later, the Jenkins / Rees / Jones front row demolished the Boks but in the most brutal of rugby games ever witnessed (which led to a third of the Lions team being admitted to hospital), both props were stretchered off and the scrums became uncontested, denying the Lions the dominance they had, which in turn led to the Boks eventually winning the game.