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McGeechan eyeing Lions hopefuls

Danny Cipriani
Cipriani will get a final chance to impress McGeechan on Sunday

Head coach Ian McGeechan admits places are still up for grabs in his Lions squad as players get their final chance to impress him this weekend.

McGeechan will name his 36-man squad for the South Africa tour on Tuesday.

He told The Mirror: "The final sign-off on the squad will be Monday evening and we're still looking at players.

"We are pretty much there because a lot of players have put their hands up. But there are still one or two spots that we need to finalise."

Several prospective Lions will be looking to impress McGeechan in the EDF Energy Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday, including Cardiff's Tom Shanklin, Lee Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts, and Gloucester's Mike Tindall and Olly Morgan.

Danny Cipriani will have a final chance to prove himself when Wasps face Bristol on Sunday and England full-backs Delon Armitage and Ben Foden will go head to head on Saturday, when Northampton host London Irish.

You just need somebody who can lead in a Test match and be sure of a Test place, that's the biggest thing

McGeechan on the Lions captaincy

McGeechan, the Wasps director of rugby added: "It's still all to play for because we won't be making those final calls until Monday.

"This weekend will give us one last look at the whole squad and the balance."

The battle for the Lions captaincy is widely believed to be between Ireland icons Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll.

McGeechan refused to reveal his preference, saying: "You just need somebody who can lead in a Test match and be sure of a Test place, that's the biggest thing.

"When the other players know their captain is certain of their place, the respect tends to follow."

Lions defence coach, Shaun Edwards, said some big names could be in for a shock when McGeechan names his squad.

606: DEBATE
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"After our most recent three-hour huddle - in a hotel near Heathrow this week - it is obvious that Ian is sticking by his word: he will pick on form and not reputation," Edwards said in his column in The Guardian.

"Some big players who have been there and done it before, won Six Nations or Heineken Cups, might be in for a shock next Tuesday.

"Some of those currently in the reckoning may not have made their national teams in the Six Nations which ended less than a month ago. Others may have caught the eye with performances in last weekend's Heineken quarter-finals.

"It will be the last 10 selections that decide whether the tour is a success. So there are guys at Twickenham like Olly Morgan of Gloucester and Tom Shanklin and Lee Halfpenny of Cardiff who can book themselves one of the 36 places on the flight south or can join the list of players on stand-by. It's wide open."



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see also
McGeechan eyes potential Lions
06 Oct 08 |  Scottish
Lions scout South African venues
06 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
Lions must have unity - McGeechan
15 May 08 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
McGeechan given Lions coach role
14 May 08 |  Rugby Union
The word on Geech
14 May 08 |  Rugby Union


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