The Lions Number 6 jersey has seen its fair share of occupants over the last 20 years.
The fact that no one player has been ever-present throughout a series goes someway to outlining how difficult the position has been against the Southern Hemisphere teams.
There are truly great names who have donned it, albeit intermittently, including arguably the best Number 6 of the professional era from the Northern Hemisphere in Richard Hill. Most of Hill’s Lions caps; however, came on the openside.
Initially, here in The Shed, we had looked very closely at Tom Croft, so much so that we had pencilled him into our team. His performances were nothing short of immense in Africa in 2009. And when you look at who he was up against, the great Schalk Burger they really resonate.
This said, when push came to shove there was only one man we thought you would want in the proverbial trenches in the number six jersey and that is the great Lawrence Dallaglio.
Yes, he made his name for England at 8, but for the 1997 Lions tour, he was a rock on the blind. He has a 100% record in tests for the Lions when he has started at 6 and a series victory against the reigning world champions is nothing to be taken lightly.
Sadly in New Zealand in 2005 we never saw the great man anywhere near the tests as he fractured his ankle in the opening match against Bay of Plenty.
Collins v Kaino
Both the late Jerry Collins and the current All Blacks blindside Jerome Kaino seem to be cut from the same cloth. Rugged, frighteningly strong, and uncompromisingly brutal in the tackle; both have helped transform the position to what it is today. Kaino’s ability in the lineout is exceptional, and it is an area of the field where he probably has the edge over Collins. This said, Collins was so strong in the tackle that you hear past players describe particular hits by Jerry as game changing.
It is hard to separate the two of them, but because we have to, we have leant on quotes from All Blacks great Michael Jones to add credence to our decision to select Collins over Kaino (but only just).
“He’s one of the most special players who will ever wear a black jersey, he took the No 6 jersey to new dimensions. The game became a lot more physical and confrontational. Jerry brought that level of physicality and brutal influence.”
The professional era teams to date…
1. Tony Woodcock
2. Dane Coles
3. Carl Hayman
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Sam Whitelock
6. Jerry Collins
1. Tom Smith
2. Keith Wood
3. Phil Vickery
4. Martin Johnson (c)
5. Paul O’Connell
6. Lawrence Dallaglio
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Author: Steven Prescott
I am a total sports fanatic; it is as simple as that. I love all sports, and when I’m not sitting at my computer living my dream with The 1014, I am planning adventures. The last time I did this I ended up convincing my wife to cycle 26,125km across three continents, and 22 countries with me as part of the Pedalling Prescotts.