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09th Apr 2017

Some absolutely massive names to miss out on British & Irish Lions selection

Warren Gatland is in a tough spot

Patrick McCarry

Just over a week until the British & Irish Lions squad announcement and it is all starting to come together.

Warren Gatland names his Lions squad in London on April 19 and, with the Six Nations wrapped and the Champions Cup into the semi-final stages, many players are making cases that cannot be ignored.

Gatland and his coaching staff will have about 30 players already decided, and locked in, but the final eight or nine spots will be heavily debated over the coming days.

Despite what many fans will think, most players are in the dark about squad selection and find out like the rest of us – when the head coach reads out their name [although Twitter often beats them to it now].

We have taken a crack at selecting a Lions squad to test world champions New Zealand to the brink and it was far from easy. Given Ireland doing a number over the All Blacks in Soldier Field, last November, and England’s consecutive Six Nations victories, our squad is dominated by two countries.

Our full squad is below but, to show you how tough it is, here is a selection of the players that did not make the cut:

Dylan Hartley, WP Nel, Richie Gray, Iain Henderson, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, Hamish Watson, Ross Moriarty, Toby Faletau, Greig Laidlaw, George Ford, Garry Ringrose, Jamie Roberts, Keith Earls, Scott Williams, Rob Kearney, Leigh Halfpenny, Mike Brown and a lot, lot more.

Dylan, Mike & co., apologies.

Sam Warburton is heavy favourite to be captain and despite the injury he picked up against Ulster on Friday night, we would take not a single issue with that.

Our selection is based on form, past meetings with the All Blacks, word from close to the Lions camp and recent debates with the likes of Ronan O’Gara, Paddy Wallace, Kevin McLaughlin, Stephen Ferris and more.

Here is our 40-man squad:


Front row: Jack McGrath, Dan Cole, Mako Vunipola, Tadhg Furlong, Rob Evans, Cian Healy

Hooker: Jamie George, Rory Best, Ken Owens

Second row: George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones, Joe Launchbury, Donnacha Ryan, Jonny Gray

Back row: Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien

No.8: Billy Vunipola, Jamie Heaslip

Scrum-halves: Conor Murray, Ben Youngs, Rhys Webb

Out-halves: Johnny Sexton, Dan Biggar

Midfield: Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Joseph, Jared Payne, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Davies

Back three: George North, Anthony Watson, Simon Zebo, Elliott Daly, Liam Williams, Tommy Seymour, Stuart Hogg.