Unbalanced squad was a “recipe for disaster” says Senior

Great Britain legend Keith Senior believes the unbalanced squad selection was always going to hurt the Lions on their Oceania tour.

Wayne Bennett’s side were defeated 14-6 by Tonga in their opening match on Saturday and finished the game in Hamilton with no recognised centres.

Wigan full-back Zak Hardaker was a surprise inclusion while injury to Oliver Gildart in the second half meant back-rower John Bateman filled the other centre spot.

“I think picking a squad with one recognised centre, two wingers and five halves was a recipe for disaster,” Senior told Serious About RL.

“If I was to give a tip to any aspiring player coming through the ranks it would be to play centre, because we’re always short there.”

Senior, who made 33 appearances at centre for Great Britain over an 11-year period, also felt the Lions were lacking in other key areas.

“It was always backs against the wall, Tonga had a lot of emotion for the game and you could tell in the opening 10 minutes it was going to be a tough night.

“But I was shocked at the lack of expansion, especially with Jackson Hastings in there. The team hasn’t played together and they need time to gel.

“We lacked from the dummy half area too. When Tonga fatigued in the second half we were crying out for Daryl Clark’s speed around the ruck.”

Much of the talk prior to the tour was about the inclusion of Australian-born players Lachlan Coote, Jackson Hastings and Blake Austin who qualify to play through their British ancestors.

Many ex-players and supporters have voiced their disapproval at the selection of the trio however Senior says the Lions are simply playing by the rules.

“I didn’t have any issue with Coote’s selection as he had already played for Scotland and has committed to a home nation.

“If we are honest, Hastings and Austin have only done it because they wouldn’t get picked for Australia but that’s the rules.

“Everybody knows the rules and all three have been standout performers in Super League this season.

“It’s hardly a new thing. I played alongside Maurie Fasavalu for Great Britain and while the rules remain as they are, it’s always going to happen.”

Great Britain play the second match of their Oceania tour this Saturday when they face New Zealand at Eden Park, kick-off 4am (UK time).