England prop Kyle Sinckler was the shock omission as Warren Gatland named his 37-man squad – up from the anticipated 36 – for the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa this summer.
England regulars Billy Vunipola, Jonny May, Henry Slade and Sam Underhill were also excluded from a squad that includes England’s Jonny Hill and Elliot Daly, as well as Sam Simmonds, an outcast from Eddie Jones’s setup for three years.
Ireland back row Jack Conan and centre Bundee Aki, but not captain Johnny Sexton or James Ryan. Wales have 10 players in the squad, but Josh Navidi and Jonathan Davies were surprise omissions.
Gatland has taken a risk on Courtney Lawes’ fitness, but not that of Manu Tuilagi, who is also yet to play on his comeback from injury.
He has stacked his squad with second rows, including Hill and Lawes, as well as captain Alun Wyn Jones, Maro Itoje, Tadgh Beirne, and Iain Henderson.
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In total, the squad contains 11 Englishmen, 10 Welshmen, eight Irishmen and eight Scots. Eighteen of the group are new to the Lions.
That represents Scotland’s strongest Lions showing in the professional era, with props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland, back-row Hamish Watson, half-backs Ali Price and Finn Russell, centre Chris Harris, wing Duhan van der Merwe and captain Stuart Hogg.
“We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa,” said Gatland.
“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position. We saw some outstanding performances in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.
“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the World Champions. We’ve left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.
“Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today.”
Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Jack Conan (Ireland), Luke Cowan-Dickie (England), Tom Curry (England), Zander Fagerson (Scotland), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Jonny Hill (England), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, captain), Wyn Jones (Wales), Courtney Lawes (England), Ken Owens (Wales), Andrew Porter (Ireland), Sam Simmonds (England), Rory Sutherland (Scotland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Hamish Watson (Scotland).
Josh Adams (Wales), Bundee Aki (Ireland), Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Gareth Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Chris Harris (Scotland), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Conor Murray (Ireland), Ali Price (Scotland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Finn Russell (Scotland), Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), Anthony Watson (England), Liam Williams (Wales).