Jonathan Davies and Sean O'Brien top our Lions player ratings in New Zealand

Our rugby expert Chris Bailey delivers his player ratings from the Lions tour to New Zealand.

Chris Bailey
by Chris Bailey
9th July 2017

article:9th July 2017

As the dust settles on another Lions series, Chris Bailey assesses the performances of Warren Gatland’s 41-man squad in New Zealand.

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Mako Vunipola – 6: No prop gets through more work in the loose than him, but marked down for second Test horrorshow

Jack McGrath – 6: That he could not displace a shaky Vunipola tells you that the Irishman was not at his best.

Joe Marler – 5: A distant third in the pecking order at loosehead. Liable to lose his head

Dan Cole – 6: Performed his job admirably, limited but one of the biggest grafters on tour

Tadhg Furlong – 7:  Not as effective around the park as Vunipola, but kept his side of the scrum solid enough

Tadhg Furlong.

Tadhg Furlong.

Kyle Sinckler – 8: Many were questioning why the England rookie was called up. Not anymore. Destructive finisher

Rory Best – 7: Powers are waning at age of 34 but an impeccable mid-week leader

Ken Owens – 6: Still looks a little lightweight at Test level. Lucky not to cost Lions right at the end.

Jamie George8: If he can start for the Lions, he can start for England. Still room to improve.

Maro Itoje – 8: Was a little overexcited in the second Test, a behemoth in the third. The sky may not be the limit.

Maro Itoje.

Maro Itoje.

Alun Wyn Jones – 7: A mid-tour scapegoat who can now hold his head high. Nine Lions Tests, some going.

Courtney Lawes – 8: Fully over his mid-career slump. Left bruises all over All blacks with his carries.

George Kruis – 6: Unlucky to be second-row fall guy after the first Test. Didn’t take his chance though.

Iain Henderson – 7: Possibly never been a stronger set of Lions locks, the unfortunate victim.

Peter O’Mahony – 6: Led by example all the way up until the first Test, in which he was sadly dominated

Sean O’Brien9: The Tullow Tank, after four years of nearly constant injury, delivered his best form

Sean O'Brien.

Sean O’Brien.

Sam Warburton – 8: Even tour place had been in question, but the skipper came in for second Test and slowed All Blacks ball right down

Justin Tipuric – Solid performer and did not miss a tackle, but Test place blocked by O’Brien and Warburton

James Haskell – Abrasive as always but too often on wrong side of the line in this tour

CJ Stander – Usually a bulldozer in an Ireland shirt, at best a mini-van for the Lions

Ross Moriarty – 5 Highly promising start to tour cruelly ended by a back injury early on

Taulupe Faletau – 8: One of the big winners, stopped most talking about the injured Billy Vunipola

Taulupe Faletau.

Taulupe Faletau.


Rhys Webb – 7: Best compliment you can pay to him is that no one would have been worried if he started Tests

Conor Murray – 8 Expert box kicker and deadly sniper, his duels with fellow No9 Aaron Smith were a highlight

Greig Laidlaw – 5 Late call-up and looked one or two classes apart from master scrum-halves Webb and Murray

Dan Biggar – 8: Could do nothing more to prove himself in tour games, but Sexton and Farrell were immovable

Jonathan Sexton – 8: Gatland put his faith in the Irishman when most others had lost theirs. Brought edge to attack.

Jonathan Sexton.

Jonathan Sexton.

Owen Farrell – 7: Did not see vintage Farrell yet generally linked with Sexton well and grew into his kicking boots

Ben T’eo – 7: Lung-busting breaks caught the eye but ultimately his ball skills were not up to scratch at inside centre

Jonathan Davies – 9: Named Lions’ player of the tour and deservedly so. Gave every ounce of energy for the cause

Jonathan Davies.

Jonathan Davies.

Jonathan Joseph – 6: Had no chance up against the in-form Davies at No13 and was not a standout regardless

Robbie Henshaw – 5: Touted to make Test impact before tour, but disappointing summer ended in injury

Jared Payne – 5: Weighed down by injuries and is currently under observation for spate of migraines

Elliot Daly – 8: Is wing his position? Maybe not – but he makes things happen. Humongous boot a real boon for the Lions

Tommy Seymour – 6: Started slowly and that counted against him, but finished Lions’ top try-scorer

Anthony Watson – 8: A shame that play was often narrow and Lions did not make more use of his dancing feet

Anthony Watson.

Anthony Watson.

George North – 5: Looked almost lethargic at times and his best could already be behind him at age of 25

Jack Nowell – 7: Very shaky in tour opener v Blues, but grew in stature and gained Test bench spot   

Liam Williams – 7: Sparked one of Test rugby’s great tries in the first All Blacks clash, unsure under high ball

Leigh Halfpenny – 6: Never the most electric of backs, but has regressed since 2013. Still one of world’s best kickers.

Stuart Hogg – 5: Conor Murray’s elbow will haunt him for years to come. Scarcely been an unluckier injury.



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