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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Who will be Lions' number 12?
By James Standley

Jonny Wilkinson in action for the Lions
Wilkinson is one of the players who could fill the Lions number 12 shirt

Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward has dropped a selection bombshell for the first Test against New Zealand by excluding Wales star Gavin Henson.

Henson had been expected to play at inside centre and admitted he is "devastated" at not making the cut.

Woodward has suggested he is going to go with experience for Saturday's match against the All Blacks.

Here BBC Sport runs the rule over the options Woodward has at his disposal before revealing his hand on Wednesday.

OPTION 1: THE ENGLISH GOLDEN BOY

Despite looking out of sorts after a series of injuries since guiding England to World Cup victory, Jonny Wilkinson seems set to play in the first Test.

He may start at 10 but Wilkinson has played in the number 12 shirt before and it could be that he will play outside Wales fly-half Stephen Jones.

The Lions tried the system for the final 20 minutes against Wellington, and it has the benefit of giving a left/right-footed kicking option.

And Woodward could even go with Jones at inside centre and Wilkinson at fly-half - Jones has also played at 12 for Wales.

OPTION 2: THE ENGLISH VETERAN

Will Greenwood was part of England's World Cup-winning team and is a trusted Woodward lieutenant.

He has also looked well short of his best since returning from injury but there is no doubt that he can handle the pressure.

The Harlequin's kicking game is a minimal part of his armoury though, and having somone who can put boot to ball at inside centre is regarded as a necessity.

But with Brian O'Driscoll at outside centre the Lions would only have to go one player wider to reach a decent kicker.

OPTION 3: CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

Brian O'Driscoll on the attack for the Lions against Wellington
O'Driscoll has the skills to play at inside centre for the Lions

O'Driscoll is regarded as the world's finest outside centre, but he is equally at home in the inside centre berth.

When Gordon D'Arcy was injured for Ireland, O'Driscoll moved into the 12 shirt and the giant Shane Horgan played at outside centre.

O'Driscoll may be a destructive broken-field runner but he is also a fine playmaker, which an inside centre must be, and he also has a good kicking game.

Horgan is a powerful runner who could possibly unhinge the All Blacks midfield, and also brings a reassuringly solid defensive game to the table.

OPTION 4: THE WOODWARD DUMMY

Woodward is not above playing mind games and one theory that has received an extensive airing is that, despite all his protestations to the contrary, he might still play Henson.

It would go against both what he said publicly - that anyone picked on Tuesday would not play on Saturday - and privately, when he told Henson that he had not done anything wrong but just wanted to go with experience.

Woodward is not afraid of pushing the boundaries and trying to squeeze any advantage he can.

But surely not even he would come up with such a complex plan purely to make the All Blacks think that Henson was out of the running for the first Test? Or would he?


SEE ALSO
Henson 'devastated' by Lions snub
20 Jun 05 |  Lions in NZ
Lions eye lift from second string
20 Jun 05 |  Lions in NZ
Henson ruled out of opening Test
19 Jun 05 |  Lions in NZ
Otago 19-30 Lions
18 Jun 05 |  Lions in NZ
Pick your Lions XV
24 May 05 |  Lions in NZ
Lions tour venue guides
18 May 05 |  Lions in NZ
Early history of the Lions
18 May 05 |  Lions in NZ
Fixture list for Lions tour to NZ
08 Apr 05 |  Lions in NZ
Lions player profiles
25 May 05 |  Lions in NZ
All Blacks player profiles
25 May 05 |  Lions in NZ


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