Exeter Chiefs star makes play to Lions starting berth
PUBLISHED: 08:53 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:53 31 May 2017
Exeter Chiefs winger Jack Nowell has made sure to throw his hat into the ring for a starting place in the British & Irish Lions side, according to World Cup winner Jason Robinson.
The two-time Lions tourist believes there is stiff competition for places on the wing with a number of names vying to face New Zealand in the first Test.
Nowell scored the first try for the Chiefs in their exhilarating 23-20 Aviva Premiership Rugby final victory over Wasps, his third try in his last four appearances.
And with Robinson of the opinion no one is a nailed on starter yet, Nowell could yet get his name on the team-sheet to face the All Blacks in the first Test on June 24.
“The wing is probably one of the best opportunities for players to stake their claim for a shirt,” Robinson said.
“I really think the places on the wings for the Test team are open at the moment, and what happens between the first game next week and the first Test will be the key to nailing the spot.
“No-one has nailed the spot 100 per cent yet and that makes it interesting, because those players now all have the chance to earn it, with none of them really killing it over six months on the wings.
“When you look at the players in that position, I don’t think any one player has been unbelievably good this season.
“George North has had a lot of injury problems and concussions earlier in the season, but come on strongly at the back end of campaign.
“But when you look at the other wingers – the Jack Nowell’s, Liam Williams’, Anthony Watson’s, and Tommy Seymour’s – I think everyone has an equal opportunity.”
Land Rover ambassador Robinson was speaking at this season’s Premiership Rugby Final where he met hundreds of youngsters from the national grassroots rugby initiative, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
Land Rover is committed to championing grassroots rugby and is continuing its ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign through programmes like the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
Robinson was part of the last Lions squad to tour New Zealand in 2005 when Clive Woodward’s side succumbed to a 3-0 series defeat.
And the former England international believes Warren Gatland’s side face an almighty task to beat the All Blacks this time around.
“The Lions have a huge, huge task coming up. They are playing against the number one team in the world, and the concept in many ways shouldn’t work,” Robinson added.
“You want players together for a long time, knowing each other inside out, but the Lions pull the players together with limited time and want to win.
“Those six games before the first Test are seriously tough opposition as well, but we know from previous Lions tours that it does work, and the guys have to pull together to carry on that tradition.
“I was on that Tour in 2005 and we got absolutely smashed in all three Tests, and it was a Tour to forget from the very first minute when Brian O’Driscoll got upended.
“I’ve been there, I know how hard it’s going to be, but we’ve got a fantastic squad and some real strength in depth – especially on the wings.”
Jason Robinson is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover is Official Vehicle Partner of Premiership Rugby and has a heritage in supporting rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal