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British & Irish Lions squad: Ten biggest shock omissions from the touring party South Africa

Warren Gatland sprung a fair few surprises with his squad for the British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa.

There were plenty of big names left out, so much so that Standard Sport was unable to fit all of them into this list!

Garry Ringrose and Henry Slade are two who didn’t make the squad, nor this list of shocks, as we take a look at those high-profile players not going to South Africa this summer.

Billy Vunipola

The No8’s wait to go on a Lions tour goes on. He was named in the squad for the 2017 tour, but had to pull out due to injury. This time, Vunipola has been overlooked in favour of Jack Conan and Sam Simmonds.

James Ryan

Just over a year ago the second row would have been in nearly everyone’s squad. He has, however, been overlooked by Gatland and that has caught many off guard. At 24, he has already captained Ireland and some thought he could even start in South Africa.

Jonathan Davies

Perhaps the biggest name to have been left out by Gatland. He has started all six of the Lions’ most recent Test matches and was named player of the series by his team-mates after touring New Zealand in 2017.

Jonathan Sexton

Injuries and fitness have probably impacted the fly-half’s chances, but given his experience his absence is still a shock. A veteran of two Lions’ tours, and captain of Ireland, Sexton would have thought he could still make the plane to South Africa.

Jonny Gray

Part of the Exeter Chiefs side who conquered Europe and the Premiership. Given his size and power he looked likely to go to South Africa, but has missed the cut. Only playing two games during the Six Nations won’t have helped.

Jonny May

The wing’s form has dropped off a bit this year, but his absence will still come as a shock to many. He has a brilliant try-scoring record for England and is one of the best finishers around. Unlucky to miss out.

Josh Navidi

The flanker will be gutted to have missed out after helping Wales win the Six Nations earlier this year. He broke into the Wales team back in 2017 and has never looked back since. A good Six Nations this year hasn’t proved enough, though.

Kyle Sinckler

Another huge shock and one that no one really saw coming. The prop has been one of England’s best players for a number of years, particularly at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, but he won’t be travelling to South Africa this summer.

Manu Tuilagi

The centre has been out injured since September, so perhaps that is the main reason why he misses out. Nonetheless, it is a big call to omit Tuilagi given his pedigree and power. No other centre in the Lions squad offers what he does.

Sam Underhill

The flanker is another surprise absentee, with fitness probably ultimately proving his downfall. Underhill missed the whole of the Six Nations with a hip issue so hasn’t played for his country since the back end of last year. The 24-year-old, though, would have hoped to have had enough credit in the bank.

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