No fewer than 19 Aviva Premiership Rugby stars will represent the league in New Zealand this summer, after they were selected by Warren Gatland today for the 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour.
Gatland unveiled the 41-man squad at midday, which includes 16 Englishmen – with Saracens second-row Maro Itoje the youngest in the ranks at the age of 22.
Aviva Premiership Rugby and European champions Saracens understandably dominate the English contingent, with Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Itoje, George Kruis, and the Vunipola brothers all included.
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) April 19, 2017
Jack Nowell, Elliot Daly and Ben Te’o are the sole representatives from Exeter Chiefs, Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively, while Leicester Tigers boast England’s Ben Youngs and Dan Cole.
Harlequins also have two representatives in Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler, while Bath Rugby’s English contingent includes Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson, and Courtney Lawes will represent Northampton Saints.
There were also 12 players included from Ireland, two Scots, and 11 from Wales in the squad – with Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Taulupe Faletau (Bath), and George North (Northampton Saints) all making the cut from west of the border.
— Worcester Warriors🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) April 19, 2017
Wales’s Sam Warburton will lead the Lions for a second consecutive Tour, an honour only ever achieved once before by Leicester Tigers legend Martin Johnson in 1997 and 2001.
And Gatland insists every single player in his travelling squad will be given the chance to challenge for Test selection – provided they show the right attitude on Tour.
“Everyone will get the opportunity. Looking at the potential combinations that we have got, we think it is going to be really competitive,” he said.
“The message to the players is that, if you have been selected, then you must go with the confidence that you are good enough to be part of the Test XV.
— Adam Jones (@adamjones3) April 19, 2017
“Some of them are going to be disappointed that they have missed out but you have got to put your hand up and have that belief, you have to be competitive and fight hard at training and be committed in terms of your contributions in training and meetings.
“There is a huge amount going into that, so the message to those players is to come and be part of the squad, but not just to make up the numbers.
“If you are here to just make up numbers then there is no way you are going be part of the Test squad.
“We hope everyone is going out with the attitude that if things go well enough for me I am good enough to start in a Test.”
Dan Biggar – Wales
Elliot Daly – England (Wasps)
Jonathan Davies – Wales
Owen Farrell – England (Saracens)
Leigh Halfpenny – Wales
Robbie Henshaw – Ireland
Stuart Hogg – Scotland
Jonathan Joseph – England (Bath Rugby)
Conor Murray – Ireland
George North – Wales (Northampton Saints)
Jack Nowell – England (Exeter Chiefs)
Jared Payne – Ireland
Jonathan Sexton – Ireland
Tommy Seymour – Scotland
Ben Te’o – England (Worcester Warriors)
Anthony Watson – England (Bath Rugby)
Rhys Webb – Wales
Liam Williams – Wales
Ben Youngs – England (Leicester Tigers)
Rory Best – Ireland
Dan Cole – England (Leicester Tigers)
Taulupe Faletau – Wales (Bath Rugby)
Tadhg Furlong – Ireland
Jamie George – England (Saracens)
Iain Henderson – Ireland
Maro Itoje – England (Saracens)
Alun Wyn Jones – Wales
George Kruis – England (Saracens)
Courtney Lawes – England (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler – England (Harlequins)
Jack McGrath – Ireland
Ross Moriarty – Wales (Gloucester Rugby)
Sean O’Brien – Ireland
Peter O’Mahony – Ireland
Ken Owens – Wales
Kyle Sinckler – England (Harlequins)
CJ Stander – Ireland
Justin Tipuric – Wales
Mako Vunipola – England (Saracens)
Billy Vunipola – England (Saracens)
Sam Warburton (Captain) – Wales