Our 37-Man British & Irish Lions Squad After The Weekend’s European Action
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It’s time to seriously get down to business.
Warren Gatland names his British and Irish Lions squad two weeks from tomorrow and it’s pretty safe to say he’s got some really big decisions to make.
This past weekend’s European action was his final chance to see the majority of players in contention, playing at an elite level. Gatland probably has the bulk of his squad drawn up, but was given plenty food for thought after the weekend’s action.
The Irish players have especially made things tricky for Gatland given their impressive wins recently. England players had been dominating up until the last couple of weeks, with their Irish counterparts getting the better of them at club and national level.
As a result, here’s our updated squad.
2017 British & Irish Lions Squad
FRONT ROW: Jack McGrath (Ireland), Mako Vunipola (England), Joe Marler (England), Dan Cole (England), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), John Ryan (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Rory Best (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales).
The only addition here is someone who hasn’t been mentioned before, but could solve the Lions problem at tighthead. In the absence of WP Nel there really isn’t another standout tighthead so why not John Ryan? The Munster prop has been probably the standout three in the Champions Cup this year and was immense again this past weekend. Definitely would not rule this one out as this man could out scrummage anyone.
SECOND ROW: Alun Wyn-Jones (Wales), Maro Itoje (England), Joe Launchbury (England), Donnacha Ryan (Ireland), Jonny Gray (Scotland).
Real competition here and impossible to get this one right. George Kruis is due back soon and could creep in and there’s also the likes of Courtney Lawes, Iain Henderson and Devin Toner in contention. We reckon we’ve got the best five picked here though.
BACK ROW: Hamish Watson (Scotland), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Toby Faletau (Wales), Sam Warburton (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Peter O’Mahony (Ireland).
After his performance this past weekend Hamish Watson has proved once again he must travel and the same can be said for Peter O’Mahony. Sean O’Brien still has a chance, but something tells us Gatland will go with his buddy Faletau and that’s why we’ve gone with him too.
HALF BACK: Rhys Webb (Wales), Conor Murray (Ireland), Ben Youngs (England), Finn Russell (Scotland), Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
No changes here. Dan Biggar didn’t really step up this past weekend and we just don’t see him bringing George Ford. The only possibility is maybe Gatland might look at bringing Danny Care instead of Ben Youngs as he offers something different.
CENTRE: Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Owen Farrell (England), Garry Ringrose (Ireland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales).
Garry Ringrose is our outside shot here in place of Scotland’s Dunbar. He’s proven he can play at inside and outside centre against Tier 1 nations and offers that bit of excitement and electricity that the others don’t have.
BACK THREE: Elliot Daly (England), Liam Williams (Wales), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), George North (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales).
Lots and lots of competition here and really hard to try and figure this one out. There’s at least another five players that could easily slot in here with only Hogg and North guaranteed a spot on the plane. You could make a case for Watson, Zebo, Earls, Payne, Maitland, Nowell or even Ashton. So much talent available.