And so the squad has been announced, well, officially announced that is. The biggest shock this week has been the fact that a few notable exclusions were announced days before those picked were.
Neil Jenkins tweeted this morning “Here comes the English outrage…. as predictable as leap year” I’m not outraged by any of the selections or exclusions, I am disappointed for one player in particular; Joe Launchbury, he was a stand out player in the 6 Nations for England, but, in common with this current England team Warren Gatland has a wealth of riches to choose from in the 2nd row at this time. Some are kept away from selection for both country and in this case the Lions because there are just too many players ahead of them. This is going to be an incredibly difficult tour, some of those who’ve missed out in the initial pick may just find themselves on a plane at some point.
Sam Warburton may well have given up the captaincy for his country, but he was a stand out for the captaincy of this Lions squad, I wish him every success, he’s a great leader. Yet he may not start in the Test team, so Gatland may need to pick a team captain.
Warren Gatland and his coaching team have their reputations on the line, combinations are key in every team, it’s notable that 6 Saracens have made the grade, 6 players who know each other inside out, that will be invaluable in New Zealand, because the All Blacks most certainly know each other and the style of play as it’s replicated across every level of rugby in the country.
Here are those that have been picked
Props – Dan Cole (England), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Kyle Sinckler (England), Mako Vunipola (England)
Hookers – Rory Best (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Ken Owens (Wales)
Locks – Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England)
Back Rows – Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Peter O’Mahoney (Ireland), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Captain, Wales)
Scrum Halves – Connor Murray (Ireland), Rhys Webb (Wales), Ben Youngs (England)
Fly Halves – Dan Biggar (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)
Centres – Jonathan Davies (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Ben Te’o (England)
Back Three – Elliot Daly (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Anthony Watson (England), Liam Williams (Wales)
By country that adds up to
England – 16
Wales – 12
Ireland – 11
Scotland – 2
Those players are now Official Lions and I for one will be behind each and every one of them!