Despite the claims by some fans that the current Great Britain and Ireland side named is not their best team, it is certainly capable of defeating the Australians on paper, especially when you compare it to the side of 2001 which beat the Kangaroos at McAlpine Stadium on November 11.
In the 2001 Test Series where the Lions were actually competitive for two of the three matches, winning one, and only just losing the third with the ball simply not bouncing their way on the night a pretty impressive effort for a side which had no real halves combination or hooker. There was no Morley in the forwards and Farrell was playing in the loose forward position. Horne was an untested prospect and the majority of the team was either approaching the end of their international career or start.
Now two years later, interesting how things have changed. The Lions have a proper hooker for the series in the shame of Terry Newton, rather than Mike Forshaw, Sean Long adds a wealth of skill to the halves position, and the team overall is a lot more structured in each of their positions. Sculthorpe has now got five tests under his belt at stand off, plus played the majority of this Super League season in that position, in 2001 he was only reasonably new to the position.
The forwards look a lot more hungry as well, Farrell is far more effective from the second row than he ever was a Loose Forward. No offence to the captain, but he seems to make more yards with a number 12 on his back rather than 13. Terry O?Conner and Chris Joynt have left the international scene and Morley rejoins the forward back after years in the international abysis.
If the Lions can play with that same passion they did in the first test in 2001, they clearly have the side to go one step better.
2001 Great Britain and Ireland Side: Kris Radlinski (Wigan Warriors), Leon Pryce (Bradford Bulls), Gary Connolly (Wigan Warriors), Keith Senior (Leeds Rhinos), Paul Johnson (Wigan), Paul Sculthorpe (St Helens), Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos), Terry O'Connor (Wigan Warriors), Mike Forshaw (Bradford Bulls) Barrie McDermott (Leeds Rhinos), Chris Joynt (St Helens), Jamie Peacock (Bradford Bulls), Andrew Farrell (Wigan Warriors & Captain). Subs: Richard Horne (Hull FC), Paul Wellens (St Helens), Paul Anderson (Bradford Bulls), Stuart Fielden (Bradford Bulls).
2003 Great Britain and Ireland Side: Kris Radlinksi (Wigan Warriors); Brian Carney (Wigan Warriors), Gary Connolly (Leeds Rhinos), Keith Senior (Leeds Rhinos), Richard Horne (Hull FC); Paul Sculthorpe (St Helens), Sean Long (St Helens): Stuart Fielden (Bradford Bulls), Terry Newton (Wigan Warriors), Adrian Morley (Sydney City Roosters), Jamie Peacock (Bradford Bulls) Andy Farrell (Wigan Warriors & captain), Mike Forshaw (Bradford Bulls). Interchange: Paul Anderson (Bradford Bulls), Barrie McDermott (Leeds Rhinos), Paul Deacon (Bradford Bulls), Lee Gilmour (Bradford Bulls).