Search icon


30th Mar 2017

Brian O’Driscoll names Lions bolter many Irish rugby fans may not have heard of

Uncapped so far

Patrick McCarry

Brian O’Driscoll is not entirely sure Warren Gatland will pick a bolter for the 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand but he has someone in mind.

Picked uncapped players or men relatively new to the Test scene has long since been a staple of the Lions, through amateur and professional eras.

The likes of Will Greenwood, Keith Earls and Sean Maitland have all benefited from a head coach taking a punt on their talent and promise. This time around, however, Gatland and his coaching staff are expected to go with a host of familiar faces and irresistible picks.

Having led the Lions to a series win in 2013, the Kiwi will look to return home with many of the players that brought him success last time out.

When it comes to outsider selections or ‘bolters’, there are a few decent candidates. Last night on BT Sports’ Rugby Tonight, four such candidates were discussed – Ireland’s Iain Henderson, Hamish Watson of Scotland, Wasps and England hooker Tommy Taylor and Denny Solomona of Sale Sharks.

While Henderson [32], Watson [10] and Taylor [1] have Test experience behind them, Solomona is uncapped. He is in his first season of Premiership rugby with Sharks but is scoring at just under one try a game.

O’Driscoll, as former Ireland and Lions captain, is well placed to comment on what an exciting backline talent can do on tour against a southern hemisphere giant. He said:

“I have to say, the more I watch of this guy Solomona the bigger a fan I become. He has brilliant physicality to his game. He’s good aerially and he does all the simple things effectively.

“Yes, he may be lacking in a bit of experience but he brings that brute force that you’re going to need for an attritional game.”

O’Driscoll believes George North is a “shoe-in” to take up the left wing berth while Stuart Hogg fills out his back three at fullback.

WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?