Four Ireland players make Sam Warburton's Lions team for First Test
Tough on Iain Henderson.
Sam Warburton has stuck his neck on the line and made his Lions XV selection for next weekend's First Test against South Africa.
After six warm-up games, the only place left to make an impression on Warren Gatland and his coaching staff will be in training. Only 23 players from the extended squad of 40 will make the cut for the matchday squad, and there will be plenty of disappointed men when Gatland makes his call.
Ahead of Thursday's team announcement for that first tilt with the world champion Springboks, former Lions captain Sam Warburton played selector on Sky Sports. Warburton's Lions XV has four Ireland players, six Welshmen and five England stars.
"Maro Itoje has been great and I think Alun Wyn Jones comes straight back in to captain the team," said Warburton. "I think that is what Warren Gatland will want.
"I did originally have Hamish Watson and Tom Curry in, but Tadhg Beirne proved to me that he should play six. He just contributes so much in the lineout, in the wide channel and his offloading game as well as the breakdown."
Sam Warburton's selection would see Iain Henderson miss out, and the Welshman had more bad news for Robbie Henshaw.
"With Bundee Aki you need to have a slammer and a banger in centre somewhere. I don't think Robbie Henshaw did quite enough on Saturday... Given that the Lions may have a 6-2 split on the bench [six forwards and two backs], Elliot Daly's creativity means he could cover the back three as well."
In the other big call, another Scot misses out as Conor Murray gets Warburton's approval for the scrumhalf slot.
SAM WARBURTON'S LIONS XV
15. Liam Williams
14. Anthony Watson
13. Elliot Daly
12. Bundee Aki
11. Josh Adams
10. Dan Biggar
9. Conor Murray
1. Mako Vunipola
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Maro Itoje
5. Alun Wyn Jones
6. Tadhg Beirne
7. Tom Curry
8. Toby Faletau
LISTEN TO HOUSE OF RUGBY'S LIONS SERIES: EPISODE 4