Lions squad announcement

Follow along as there looks set to be a high Irish representation in the 38-man squad

John O'Sullivan Wed, Apr 19
 
LIVE: Lions squad announcement

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  • 11:29
    Hello and welcome to the Irish Times live blog of the Lions squad annoucement in London. Tour manager John Spencer will read out the list of names that will undertake a 10-match tour to New Zealand in June and July under the coaching baton of Warren Gatland. John O'Sullivan here and I'll be keeping you up to date on events as they unfold.  
  • 11:33

    Sam Warburton, who led the Lions to a 2-1 test series victory in Australia in 2013, was the bookmakers favourite to retain the captaincy this time around and the word is, the 28-year-old Welsh flanker will emulate former England captain Martin Johnson's achivement in leading the Lions on two successive tours.


    Johnson was a victorious captain in 1997, winning the test series 2-1 against the Springboks but four years later lost the series 2-1 in Australia.    

  • 11:34
    Apparently a picture showing Warburton alongside the Lions coaching team came to light.  
  • 11:35
    There was huge speculation that Harlequins and Wales centre Jamie Roberts had made the squad for a third tour but that appears to be misplaced according to the Welsh media.  
  • 11:36

    The record Irish representation selected in the original touring party was 14 – three Jerry Flannery, Tomas O’Leary and Alan Quinlan didn’t make the plane through injury and suspension in the latter case – in 2009 to South Africa, a squad led by Paul O’Connell. The under/over was 9-13 and it appears the magic number will be 12, based on ‘informed speculation,’ if that’s not an oxymoron.  

  • 11:36
  • 11:37

    Well the waiting period is nearly at an end. Chatting to the Munster players earlier in the week they are supposed to have a pitch session at the time of the announcement in preparation for their Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens on Saturday.

    Maybe those that are in contention will place their mobile phones in a valuables bag (old school) on the side of the pitch and strain to hear the sounds of a text message dropping.  

  • 11:38

    They could of course just pause the session for a couple of minutes. Depending on your preferred source, Ireland’s representation is set to include: Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien and Peter O’Mahony.

  • 11:38

    Garry Ringrose, Simon Zebo, Jared Payne, Sean Cronin and the injured duo of Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney have also been mentioned in dispatches.

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  • 11:39

    Despite England’s Six Nations Championship success, it looks like they are set to lose out on several either/or calls and for a third time in succession the current England captain, in this case Dylan Hartley, is slated to miss out; that follows Chris Robshaw and Steve Borthwick as an unhappy hat-trick.  

  • 11:41
    England's Jonathan Joseph, James Haskell, Joe Launchbury and George Ford are reported to be significant omission; the truth or otherwise will be confirmed in about 15-minutes.  
  • 11:42
    The Scots might not be too chipper either with their representation likely to be between one and five players.  
  • 11:46

    So who are the men that decided on the composition of the Lions squad? Warren Gatland (head coach), Rob Howley (backs), Steve Borthwick (forwards), Andy Farrell (defence) and Graham Rowntree (scrum) had a final round table discussion on Tuesday afternoon apparently.  


    Wonder if there was any Eenie, meenie, miney moe...........




     

  • 11:47
    Apparently there is still time to pick your Lions squad on the Lions official App. Why?  
  • 11:51

    The 10-match tour to New Zealand comprises of matches against the five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises, Blues, Crusaders, Highlanders, Chiefs and Hurricanes.


    The opening match of the tour is against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians and the also face the Maori All Blacks, while not forgetting the ultimate barometer of success and failure of the tour, the three test series against the world champions, New Zealand.


    The first match is June 3rd, the first test is June 24th and the final test and game of the tour is on July 8th.

  • 11:52

    The rumour mill is going into overdrive, Ulster and Ireland's Jared Payne will travel and face the country of his birth, while Donnacha Ryan and Keith Earls may miss out.




    All will be revealed in eight minutes.  

  • 11:53

    All matches on the tour have an 8.35am kickoff, Irish time and will be shown live on Sky Sports.

  • 11:58
    The last time the Lions toured New Zealand was in 2005, Clive Woodward was head coach, Brian O'Driscoll the captain, the largest ever Lions squad of 44-players was amassed with the biggest backroom team (26) and it ended in a ..............drumroll.....3-0 test series whupping for the Lions.  
  • 11:59
    The Lions have won only once in New Zealand, a 2-1 test series triump under coach Carwyn James, probably the most gifted group of players to travel south from the northern hemisphere.  
  • 12:00
    60 seconds to broadcast.  
  • 12:01
    The Lions have won just six tests in their history in New Zealand from 38 with three draws. That means they have lost 29 matches.  
  • 12:02
    Time for Sky Sports montage. Apparently the Lions started in 1997 (tongue in cheek)
  • 12:03
  • 12:04
    The Lions coaching team are on the stage. There is a spare seat for the captain.  
  • 12:05
    Warren offers a few thoughts.  
  • 12:06
    Tour manager John Spencer has just read out a list of the Lions sponsors.  
  • 12:08
    Backs: Dan Biggar, Elliot Daly, Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell, Leigh Halfpenny, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart Hogg, Jonathan Joseph, Conor Murray, George North, Jack Nowell, Jared Payne, Jonathan Sexton, Tommy Seymour, Ben Te'o, Anthony Watson, Rhys Webb, Liam Williams, Ben Youngs.  
  • 12:09
  • 12:11
    Forwards: Rory Best, Dan Cole, Talupe Faletau, Tadgh Furlong, Jamie George, Iain Henderson, Maro Itoje, Alan Wyn Jones, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Jack McGrath, Ross Moriarty,Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony, Ken Owens, Kyle Sinkler, CJ Stander, Justin Tipuric, Mako Vunipola, Billy Vunipola, Sam Warburton (CAPT)  
  • 12:12
    11 Ireland players: Payne, Henshaw, Sexton, Murray, McGrath, Best, Furlong, Henderson, O'Brien, O'Mahony, Stander.  
  • 12:13
    Warburton:  "I found out last Thursday. I was in the car park outside shops. I thought it was some of the (Cardiff (Blues) messing around.
  • 12:14

    The 11 Ireland players equals Ireland's representation that travelled initially - 14 were in the orginal selection - in 2009.

     

    Eight returning Lions in the forwards.  

  • 12:16
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  • 12:19

    If you like your numbers, then this is for you.


    Ireland's representation is five Leinster, three Ulster and three Munster players.


    16 England. 12 Wales, 11 Ireland 2 Scots in the 41-man squad, the second biggest Lions touring party of all time.  



  • 12:19
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  • 12:24

    As anticipated England captain Dyland Hartley misses out. Scotland's Gray brothers, Jonny and Richie, Hamish Watson, Joe Launchbury, James Haskell will also be disappointed.


    From an Irish perspective, Ketih Earls, Simon Zebo, Garry Ringrose and Donnacha Ryan were all mentioned in despatches.    

  • 12:30

    Conor Murray (2013), Jonathan Sexton (2013), Rory Best (2013), Sean O'Brien (2013) return for a second Lions tour.


    The other seven Irish players travel with the Lions for the first time.  

  • 12:32

    The Lions will need to be at least 10 per cent fitter than they were in Australia in 2013 to take on the All Blacks according to Paul Stridgeon, their head of strength and conditioning.

    Having been part of the backroom team for the last two tours, Stridgeon takes over from Adam Beard as the Lions' fitness chief for the most physically demanding tour of recent times.  

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  • 12:35

    Stridgeon continued: "When we look at the game data against the All Blacks you know that running wise it is going to be the most intense game that you can get.


    "We have to try to match their intensity running wise and collision wise. That will be very tough. No disrespect to Australia but New Zealand are a more physical, faster team.

    "It will be more of a running game and the collisions will be bigger as well. I would expect we will need to cover 10 per cent more ground than we did against Australia. That will be tough but that is the challenge we have."

    Stridgeon's work will begin with a pair of training camps at Wales' base at the Vale of Glamorgan and Ireland's at Carton House.

  • 12:35
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  • 12:40
    Ireland's representation among the backroom team includes Ger Carmody (logistics manager/head of operations), Paddy 'Rala' O'Reilly (baggage master), Eanna Falvey (Head of Medical).  
  • 12:40
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  • 12:44
    Waburton learned he would be the 2017 Lions captain in a supermarket carpark.  
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  • 12:48
    Here's another reaction from the Southern Hemisphere on New Zealand born players in the Lions squad.  
  • 12:48
  • 12:49
    What are the bets that Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg sit beside each other on the plane. Two Scots.  
  • 12:49
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  • 12:56
    It's fair to say that Gatland's squad is far from universally popular, particularly with the Scots on social media.  
  • 12:57
    And also Wasps rugby too.  
  • 12:57
  • 12:58
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  • 12:59
    It would probably not be a good time to point out that one of Scotland's players, Tommy Seymour, went to Down High School and is a former Ulster player. Just saying......
  • 13:01
    So the wait is over. 41-players, 11 Irish, 16 English, 12 Welsh and two Scots. Gerry Thornley's thoughts will be up on line in about an hour. He's in London interviewing some of the principals. Thank you for your company. I'm off to find out who's on the standby list.  
  • 13:04

    If you are still on your lunch-break here's a piece on the Lions selection.  

     

  • 13:05