One Englishman and five Irish players in Will Greenwood's Lions XV 4 weeks ago

One Englishman and five Irish players in Will Greenwood's Lions XV

Some big calls in here.

Selected as a bolter for the 1997 British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa, it is heartening to see Will Greenwood giving his backing to another precocious young talent to rip into the Springboks.

Greenwood, a three-time Lion, is the latest big name to give his thoughts on the best Lions XV to take on the world champion Springboks this summer. In his selection, for The Daily Telegraph, there are six Welshmen, five from Ireland, three Scots and just one English player.

In his back-row, Will Greenwood goes for the only Englishman in his starting XV. Sale and England star Tom Curry gets the nod, along with Toby Faletau and Tadhg Beirne at blindside.

On House of Rugby Ireland [LISTEN from 1:00 below], Beirne spoke of his Lions squad call-up and about his preference for playing in either the Lions second or back rows.

Beirne will be heartened, then, to hear Greenwood talking him up as a starting blindside for the Lions. Backing youth, he has also selected Louis Rees-Zammit in his preferred right wing spot.

'The pack feels nicely balanced,' writes Greenwood of his selected XV.

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'Powerful up front, while Tadhg Beirne, Tom Curry and Taulupe Faletau cover all bases in the back row. Behind them, I’ve gone with Finn Russell at fly-half; the best kicking and passing 10 in attack.

'With the experience of Conor Murray inside him and a solid midfield pairing of Robbie Henshaw and Chris Harris outside him, I think we will see the best of Russell. My back three are all good under the high ball and exciting counter-attackers.'

With three Scots in his backline, Greenwood has gone for a pack dominated by Wales and Ireland players. While we have seen the likes of Furlong, Henshaw and Murray in a lot of selections, the former England star has also selected Beirne and Iain Henderson.

Big players to miss out include Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Dan Biggar, Justin Tipuric and Anthony Watson.

WILL GREENWOOD'S LIONS XV

15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
13. Chris Harris (Scotland)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
11. Liam Williams (Wales)
10. Finn Russell (Scotland)
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)

1. Wyn Jones (Wales)
2. Ken Owens (Wales)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
5. Iain Henderson (Ireland)
6. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
7. Tom Curry (England)
8. Talupe Faletau (Wales)