Paul O’Connell & Gordon D’Arcy Pick Their Irish Lions Probables
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A lot of Irish players have put themselves in the shop window in recent weeks.
Joe Schmidt’s men have racked up wins over New Zealand and Australia in recent weeks to top off their win over South Africa in the summer, completing a famous trio of victories over the traditional southern hemisphere mega powers.
In doing so they have become the first team to do so in a season since Martin Johnson’s World Cup winning England side of 2003. Before the November series a lot of outlets believed that Ireland wouldn’t have much influence on the tour in 2017, with only a handful of player’s expected to travel in many eyes. That of course has now changed dramatically.
Two men who have played for both Ireland and the Lions, Gordon D’Arcy and Paul O’Connell, now believe that Ireland as things stand will have at least eight players on the plane to New Zealand next summer with the former Leinster centre picking three backs and the former Lions captain picking five forwards.
O’Connell reckons Jack McGrath, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien will travel with Best pipped for the captaincy according to a lot of outlets, and O’Brien’s inclusion depending on fitness according to O’Connell.
The former Munster and Ireland lock also mentions the likes of Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Iain Henderson as Irish players that could very well get the call-up from Warren Gatland.
D’Arcy believes that Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw are all certainties for the tour to New Zealand, with Murray for him, now regarded as the best nine in world rugby. The former Leinster centre also believes Paddy Jackson could play his way in and his fellow Ulsterman Jared Payne could be in with a shot given his performances over the last year coupled with his versatility.
What do you think? Are their selections accurate?