Sometimes fate can take a hand when it comes to selection.
And so to the classic tale — though not for the chap involved — about the politician whose name was on a Post-it note which was moving around a whiteboard during a cabinet reshuffle under Tony Blair.
The glue eventually came off and the man’s name fell on the floor.
He never did make it into prime minister Blair’s cabinet.
Contenders for Lions spots on the tour of South Africa this summer will hope Warren Gatland is a shade more careful than Blair as he goes about picking his party.
There are so many players in contention, after all — easy to lose one when midnight oil is being burned and tough decisions are being made.
But let’s hope it won’t come to that.
Still, some big names appear in some trouble at this stage if bookmakers’ odds are to be believed.
This is how the picture is panning out…
Who’s tipped to go: Johnny May (1/10), Josh Adams (1/6), Stuart Hogg (3/10), Anthony Watson (4/7), Liam Williams (8/11), Elliot Daly (8/11).
Missing out: Louis Rees-Zammit (6/4), Duhan van der Merwe (6/4), James Lowe (13/8), Leigh Halfpenny (6/1).
The good news for Louis Rees-Zammit is that he’s heading in the right direction. The bad news is he’s still outside the front six back-three players for the tour. Evidently, it’s not enough to score tries for the ages these days. There has to be more.
But another performance or two along the lines of the one he produced against Scotland could catapult him into the travelling party.
James Lowe also caught the eye in round two of the Six Nations, along with Duhan van der Merwe. Both need to hold their form this weekend, while Leigh Halfpenny is going to need something special to tour. Never say never, but, as the Wales full-back recovers from the head knock he suffered at Murrayfield, he clearly has work to do to make a fourth Lions tour.
Who’s tipped to go: Garry Ringrose (4/7), Jonathan Davies (4/6), Manu Tuilagi (4/6), Henry Slade (5/6).
Missing out: Robbie Henshaw (6/5), Bundee Aki (2/1), George North (2/1) Jonathan Joseph ((5/2), Nick Tompkins (5/2) Cameron Redpath (5/1), Owen Watkin (16/1).
There are questions here, not least over the availability of Manu Tuilagi after his long-term injury. He’s due back in April; if his return is delayed he could miss out.
Jonathan Davies’ form could also be an issue after a prolonged injury-haunted spell.
But the certainty is Gatland will think long and hard before leaving out the Lions’ player of the series on the 2017 tour of New Zealand and a player in whom he famously invested such faith in 2013, picking him ahead of Brian O’Driscoll for the deciding Test against Australia. Class, as they say, is permanent.
Robbie Henshaw has impressed in this Six Nations but still seems on the outside looking in, while the same goes for George North.
North’s versatility is a plus, however.
He’s set to win his 100th cap for Wales this weekend with his tour prospects very much alive.
Who’s tipped to go : Owen Farrell (1/20), Finn Russell (8/11), Dan Biggar (10/11).
Missing out: Jonathan Sexton (11/10), George Ford (15/8), Rhys Priestland (50/1).
Out of form and out of harmony with the referee last time he stepped on the pitch, but Owen Farrell is still rated certain to make the tour to South Africa.
Finn Russell and Dan Biggar are fancied to cover the No. 10 spot with him.
The big casualty is shaping up to be Johnny Sexton.
He’ll be 36 this summer and he missed Ireland’s last game, against France, after a head knock.
He’s another one who isn’t short of class and he’s also a leader.
Undoubtedly, he’ll believe he has what it takes to tour.
But the trick is to convince Gatland.
Right now, he has work to do.
Who’s tipped to go: Ben Youngs (4/5), Conor Murray (6/5), Gareth Davies (11/10).
Missing out: Tomos Williams (7/4), Rhys Webb (11/4), Ali Price (3/1).
Nothing seems nailed down here.
Rhys Webb is refusing to go away after his omission from Wayne Pivac’s Wales squad, with the Ospreys man responding with two successive man-of-the-match performances. Warren Gatland enjoys that kind of thing.
The coach also knows what Tomos Williams can do, but injuries continue to trouble the talented Cardiff Blue – with the No. 9 set to miss Wales v England with a hamstring injury.
A fine performance from Scotland’s Ali Price against Wales means he’s in the picture, too.
Let’s conclude that no-one has been inked in here.
Wide open, some might call it.
Who’s tipped to go: Kyle Sinckler (1/7), Tadhg Furlong (1/5), Andrew Porter (13/8). Mako Vunipola (4/11), Ellis Genge (8/11), Cian Healy (11/10).
Missing out: Wyn Jones (13/8), Rory Sutherland (9/4), Zander Fagerson (11/4), Tomas Francis (7/1).
There are some major battles taking place for the loosehead places, with Wyn Jones in the thick of them.
The Wales number one is not just being fancied by some to travel. He’s being tipped to make the Test side.
Again, though, it’s Gatland who needs to be convinced rather than former players and pundits.
Zander Fagerson has fallen back after his sending off against Wales, and so has Rory Sutherland. Mako Vunipola hasn’t been at his best but will surely be a Gatland pick, while there’s less certainty about Ellis Genge and Cian Healy.
Strong Six Nations displays could yet rearrange the pecking order here.
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Who’s tipped to go: Jamie George (1/10), Ken Owens (11/8), Luke Cowan Dickie (6/4).
Missing out : Ronan Kelleher (7/4), Stuart McInally (9/4).
Despite being left out by England for the game with Italy, George is rated guaranteed to travel, with Ken Owens and Luke Cowan-Dickie journeying with him.
George and Owens are leaders.
They are set to have a chance to seal their places this weekend when Wales face England in Cardiff.
A neck injury has hit the hopes of Scotland’s Stuart McInally.
Who’s tipped to go: Maro Itoje (1/10), James Ryan (1/10), Alun Wyn Jones (4/11), Jonny Gray (10/11), Jonny Hill (5/4).
Missing out: Iain Henderson (13/8), Joe Launchbury (9/4), Tadhg Beirne (11/4), Adam Beard (25/1).
It seems reasonable to assume that Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne will still feel their hopes are very much alive, with Beirne, in particular, catching the eye in this Six Nations so far, offering himself as a breakdown threat and a ferocious worker around the field.
Maro Itoje, James Ryan and Alun Wyn Jones are bankers to be in Gatland’s group and Jonny Gray is increasingly assuming similar dimensions.
Adam Beard has longer odds, though, despite an outstanding effort for Wales against Scotland last time out, with an injury hitting Joe Launchbury’s chances.
Who’s tipped to go: Tom Curry (1/5), Billy Vunipola (1/4), Sam Underhill (1/3), Justin Tipuric (8/11), CJ Stander (8/11), Taulupe Faletau (13/8).
*Hamish Watson is priced at 13/8 but Faletau’s selection might offer the back-row pool more balance.
Missing out: Courtney Lawes (7/4), Aaron Wainwright (3/1) Jamie Ritchie (4/1), Josh Navidi (4/1), Peter O’Mahony (5/1), Rhys Ruddock (10/1), Ross Moriarty (12/1).
A top-class back rower is going to be disappointed. A few will be, actually.
Gatland is likely to take six loose forwards and the best of luck to him as he decides who he should leave behind when Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Justin Tipuric, Hamish Watson, CJ Stander, Taulupe Faletau and Billy Vunipola are in the mix.
Despite his outstanding form in the opening two rounds, Watson might just be vulnerable — though nothing is guaranteed on that front.
Faletau will surely be chosen.
Gatland likes him and the Bath man has returned to his best form. If someone sits the New Zealander down and shows him a recording of Faletau’s effort against Gloucester last Friday evening, the deal will be sealed: the Wales No. 8 might even be one of the first names his old coach opts for.
An injury has knocked Jamie Ritchie back, while the same applies to Josh Navidi.
Don’t rule out the Cardiff Blue, though: he is another player Gatland rates highly.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk