Our final British & Irish Lions squad has 10 from Ireland and some big omissions 1 week ago

Our final British & Irish Lions squad has 10 from Ireland and some big omissions

Time to nail our colours to the mast.

For the past two months, much of the Six Nations action has been viewed through a British & Irish Lions prism, and even more so after it was confirmed the tour would go ahead in South Africa.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland is on the record with how much stock he places in the Six Nations as a proving ground for his touring squads. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see if outsiders like Sam and Joe Simmonds, Alex Goode, Alfie Barbeary and Simon Zebo even come up in his deliberations.

It is, as yet, unclear if all of the warm-up games will take place, as per the original tour schedule. The Murrayfield send-off against Japan, on June 26, is still in the books but some of the midweek games could be sacrificed to make a leaner tour.

Until that is confirmed, though, we are going with a hefty touring squad of 41 - the same number Gatland took to New Zealand in 2017 - with another 11 unlucky lads on stand-by. We are going on reputation and the rugby season as a whole, so England and Wales are both heavily represented, with 10 Irish tourists and only five from Scotland.

On House of Rugby Ireland [LISTEN from 29:00], Eimear Considine teased out a Lions XV for the First Test with Fergus McFadden and Ian Madigan. Many of their selections make our squad, but there are some other surprises along the way.

Warren Gatland will not have the luxury of other countries [ie: Wales or Scotland] touring nearby and with players ready to call on at short notice. That means he will be pressing for as bountiful a squad as possible.

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With that in mind, we have gone for a 22:19 forwards to backs split in our 41-man Lions squad. It is mainly based on what transpired in the Six Nations, but keeping in mind how England fared in last year's Six Nations, which wrapped in October, and the Autumn Nations Cup.

Our big shouts are Andrew Porter, CJ Stander, Duhan van der Merwe and the English trio of Joe Launchbury, Sam Underhill and Manu Tuilagi. Were Gatland forced to cut his squad to 35 or 36, those men would find their places under threat.

Our British & Irish Lions squad for South Africa

PROPS

Mako Vunipola (England), Wyn Jones (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Kyle Sinckler (England), Andrew Porter (Ireland), Rory Sutherland (Scotland)

HOOKERS

Ken Owens (Wales), Jamie George (England), Luke Cowan-Dickie (England)

SECOND ROW

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Maro Itoje (England), James Ryan (Ireland), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Joe Launchbury (England), Courtney Lawes (England)

BACK ROW

Tom Curry (England), Sam Underhill (England), Hamish Watson (Scotland), Toby Faletau (Wales), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Billy Vunipola (England)

SCRUM-HALVES

Conor Murray (Ireland), Gareth Davies (Wales), Ben Youngs (England)

OUT-HALVES

Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Dan Biggar (Wales), Finn Russell (Scotland)

CENTRES

Jonathan Davies (Wales), George North (Wales), Manu Tuilagi (England), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Garry Ringrose (Ireland), Owen Farrell (England)

BACK THREE

Liam Williams (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Anthony Watson (England), Josh Adams (Wales), Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)

ON STAND-BY: Cian Healy, Zander Fagerson, Rob Herring, Jonny Gray, Will Connors, Kieran Hardy, George Ford, Chris Harris, Keith Earls, Jacob Stockdale.