Paul O’Connell Names Four “Nailed On” Irish Players For The Lions & One Potential Bolter

Bolter.

The last time the British and Irish Lions toured South Africa a certain Paul O’Connell led them as tour captain against the then world champions.

Next year O’Connell won’t be there but once again the Lions face the mammoth task of facing the defending world champions but they’ll be hoping they can go one better than their predecessors who lost the series 2-1 in dramatic fashion.

Irish players have always played a key role in Lions tours with several usually making up the Test squad along with a few others in the wider squad.

But who will travel to South Africa next year from Andy Farrell’s squad? According to O’Connell, four men are “nailed on” as things stand.

“Tadhg Furlong, if he gets back (from his calf injury), James Ryan, Garry Ringrose and Johnny Sexton,” O’Connell said.

“They are the only nailed on ones for me. I think they’re nailed on.”

O’Connell also reckons Leinster flanker Dan Leavy could be a potential bolter. Back in 2018, it seemed like his selection was going to be an obvious one. But having spent 19 months out with injury he’s finally way down the pecking order.

But O’Connell reckons there’s still a chance he will travel.

“I think the bolter is Dan Leavy,” O’Connell said.

“There are certain players can do certain things but there are very few that can do it all and he can do it all. I watched the [Leinster vs. Zebre] game the other night and every time he carried I was seeing did he hold his knee or get up tentatively; he didn’t at all.

“He seemed to be very confident about what he was doing around his knee.

“He is just going to have to be a clever boy about that knee and not too brave. Leinster will be good for him in managing that. There are a few great players coming through in Irish rugby at the moment and a very small amount of them will be world class straight away and I think he is one of them. So he’d be my Lions bolter if he can stay fit and stay strong because he can do it all.”

Pictured is Paul O’Connell who was yesterday announced as a Vodafone British & Irish Lions ambassador and is celebrating the launch of the 2021 Official Lions Tour App, available to download from today, where Vodafone have announced a new ‘Digital Lions’ initiative that will allow rugby fans to virtually become a British and Irish Lion for the first time ever. Fans can create their own personalised ‘Digital Lion’, a gaming style 3D animated virtual avatar which Paul is pictured with here, developed by the team behind Fortnite and FIFA that uses the movements of Lions’ legends.