Gatland has selection dilemmas in EVERY position… how many England players make our Lions squad?

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Affirmation that the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa this summer season will go forward as deliberate has whetted the urge for food of rugby followers internationally. 

Whereas there’ll will not be any crowds on the three Exams and many of the six warm-up matches scheduled between June 26 and August 7, gamers, coaches, officers and followers will likely be delighted that we’ve got the prospect of a tour in any respect, given the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Ideas have moved swiftly on from whether or not there could be a tour to who head coach Warren Gatland will choose to tackle the world champions – with Sportsmail revealing {that a} small squad of simply 36 gamers is ready to be named on Could 6.

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland is weighing up his choices

After beating Australia in 2013 and drawing with New Zealand in 2017, this will likely be Gatland’s third tour in cost and first whereas not additionally head coach of Wales. 

What influence that has on choice stays to be seen, however with Wales outperforming England, Eire and Scotland within the current Six Nations, we nonetheless have each motive to count on there to be a powerful Welsh contingent within the aspect that’s chosen by the New Zealander. An ongoing dispute over the discharge of Premiership gamers for coaching camps must be resolved, however it’s unlikely to cease Gatland from selecting whoever he desires.

The top coach is prone to choose as many gamers from 2017 as he can, whereas those that missed the Six Nations by harm will come again into rivalry. 

With simply over a month till Gatland names his squad, Sportsmail runs by the choices he has in every place.  

There are sure to be a number of harm setbacks for Lions hopefuls between now and the tip of the membership season in June, so all the choices under are after all fitness-permitting…

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS FIXTURES 

 June 26 – Japan, Murrayfield

July 3 – Stormers, Capte City

July 7 – South Africa Invitational, Port Elizabeth 

July 10 – Sharks, Durban 

Jul 14 – South Africa ‘A’, Nelspruit 

July 17 – Bulls, Pretoria

Juy 24 – South Africa, Johannesburg

July 31 – South Africa, Cape City

August 7 – South Africa, Johannesburg

FULL-BACKS 

On the aircraft: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Vying for a spot: Elliot Daly (England), Liam Williams (Wales)

Exterior probability: Hugo Keenan (Eire), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Max Malins (England)

With the information that Gatland is ready to call the smallest Lions touring squad this century, versatility is the important thing phrase, with the top coach wanting as many gamers as potential who can play each full-back and wing. Hogg is a shoo-in and sure starter if match, with Williams – who may begin on the wing – prone to take the second full-back spot. Daly is a favorite of Gatland’s, nevertheless, having performed in all three Exams in 2017, although he wants to seek out type with Saracens after a troublesome Six Nations. Gatland could also be tempted to seek out room for 2013 hero Halfpenny to play within the midweek crew. 

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg

England full-back Elliot Daly

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg (left) is a sure choose whereas Elliot Daly (proper) has a battle on

WINGS 

On the aircraft: Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Anthony Watson (England)

Vying for a spot: Jonny Could (England), Jack Nowell (England), Jacob Stockdale (Eire), Josh Adams (Wales), Sean Maitland (Scotland)

Exterior probability: Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), Keith Earls (Eire), Jordan Larmour (Eire), James Lowe (Eire)

New Welsh sensation Rees-Zammit – nonetheless solely 20 – would be the first identify on many individuals’s team-sheets after a superb Six Nations marketing campaign. Watson – joint-top attempt scorer with Rees-Zammit on 4, a key man in 2017 and capable of play full-back – is one other possible starter within the first Take a look at. Gatland has a lot of choices for the ultimate two spots and the important thing will likely be steadiness. The coach is a giant fan of Nowell and is prone to choose him if he returns to health and type in time, having been stricken by accidents within the final two years. Could may miss out once more with Gatland prone to favour Adams.

Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit

England wing Anthony Watson

Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit (left) and England’s Anthony Watson (proper) have been joint-top attempt scorers within the current Six Nations with 4 every

CENTRES

On the aircraft: Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Robbie Henshaw (Eire)

Vying for a spot: Manu Tuilagi (England), Henry Slade (England), Garry Ringrose (Eire), George North (Wales)

Exterior probability: Cameron Redpath (Scotland), Bundee Aki (Eire)

One of many hardest choice areas Gatland has, with versatility and squad steadiness once more the important thing. Davies and Farrell have been the profitable mixture in 2017 and are each sure to make the squad, although the latter’s beginning place is below menace after a poor Six Nations and given the choices elsewhere. The persistently spectacular Henshaw is on the entrance of that queue for the time being, although Tuilagi may barge by it if his deliberate return for Sale subsequent month is profitable. North is extra of a centre today, and his return to type and flexibility imply Gatland will discover it laborious to not choose him.

Manu Tuilagi is likely to be selected if he returns to fitness with Sale at the end of the season

Manu Tuilagi is prone to be chosen if he returns to health with Sale on the finish of the season

FLY-HALVES

On the aircraft: Jonathan Sexton (Eire)

Vying for a spot: Dan Biggar (Wales), Finn Russell (Scotland), George Ford (England)

Exterior probability: Callum Sheedy (Wales), Marcus Smith (England), Joe Simmonds (England)

Choice would not get a neater for Gatland as we transfer into the half-back positions. Sexton will likely be 36 come the primary Take a look at and his powers are on the wane, however he positively goes on tour and possibly begins in Johannesburg if match. With the solidity of Sexton and Farrell within the squad, the maverick Russell could possibly be a given an opportunity to power his means into the Take a look at crew. Biggar could be the extra conservative choice, whereas Ford might be fourth in line. Gatland may even throw a curve-ball and choose one of many two type English fly-halves that Eddie Jones persistently ignores in Smith and Simmonds.

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell offers Gatland something different with his attacking style

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell provides Gatland one thing completely different along with his attacking fashion

SCRUM-HALVES

On the aircraft: Conor Murray (Eire)

Vying for a spot: Ben Youngs (England), Ali Worth (Scotland), Gareth Davies (Wales)

Exterior probability: Rhys Webb (Wales), Tomos Williams (Wales), Danny Care (England)

This could possibly be an issue place for Gatland, with nobody actually making the jersey their very own throughout the Six Nations. Murray, like Sexton, isn’t the participant he was a number of years in the past, however they confirmed in opposition to England they’re nonetheless able to dictating a Take a look at match in opposition to high quality opposition in tandem. Youngs is frustratingly inconsistent for somebody so skilled, however Gatland might even see him as a possible matchwinner from the bench. Davies is the Welsh incumbent and most probably to problem Murray for a begin, although Gatland could possibly be tempted to deliver Webb or Care in from the chilly, having watched each for his or her membership sides not too long ago.

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray

England's Ben Youngs reacts to the Ireland defeat

Skilled scrum-halves Conor Murray (left) and Ben Youngs (proper) are prone to journey

PROPS

On the aircraft: Wyn Jones (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Tadhg Furlong (Eire), Kyle Sinckler (England)

Vying for a spot: Rory Sutherland (Scotland), Zander Fagerson (Scotland), Cian Healy (Eire), Tomas Francis (Wales)

Exterior probability: Ellis Genge (England), Andrew Porter (Eire), Jack McGrath (Eire), Joe Marler (England)

Even with a smaller squad of 36, Gatland is prone to choose six props to share the workload. On the loosehead aspect, Jones has made himself a possible starter after a superb Six Nations. At tighthead, 2017 hero Furlong returned to health and type throughout the Championship and may entrance up the Springboks’ physicality. That’s prone to go away England duo Vunipola and Sinckler with influence roles from the bench. Gatland has a plethora of choices then for the ultimate two spots, and could possibly be tempted to go together with the Scottish duo of Sutherland and Fagerson, who’ve cast a strong partnership. 

Wales prop Wyn Jones (right) enjoyed an outstanding Six Nations and is a likely starter

Wales prop Wyn Jones (proper) loved an excellent Six Nations and is a possible starter

HOOKERS

On the aircraft: Ken Owens (Wales)

Vying for a spot: Jamie George (England), Luke Cowan-Dickie (England), Ronan Kelleher (Eire), Rob Herring (Eire)

Exterior probability: George Turner (Scotland), David Cherry (Scotland)

One other place the place a Welshman has leapt forward of Englishmen throughout the Six Nations. Owens is 34 however is as constant as they arrive and his lineout partnership with Alun Wyn Jones could possibly be a bedrock to constructed this Lions crew on. 2017 starter George has misplaced his England place after a dip in type however Gatland is prone to choose him nonetheless forward of the likes of Herring. Cowan-Dickie and Kelleher are each rampaging choices, with Gatland possible to decide on one or the opposite.

Jamie George has lost his England place

Luke Cowan-Dickie is England's incumbent now

Jamie George (left) has misplaced his England place to Exeter’s Luke Cowan-Dickie (proper)

SECOND ROWS

On the aircraft: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Maro Itoje (England)

Vying for a spot: Iain Henderson (Eire), Tadhg Beirne (Eire), James Ryan (Eire), Jonny Grey (Scotland), Courtney Lawes (England)

Exterior probability: Joe Launchbury (England), Adam Beard (Wales)

In all probability the Lions’ strongest place, with captaincy candidates Jones and Itoje arguably the very best on this planet and set to renew their profitable 2017 mixture. There’s a wealth of choices behind these two for Gatland too, with Beirne having fun with a superb Six Nations to affix compatriots Henderson and Ryan as tour candidates. His means to play on the blindside additionally makes him a possible choose. Grey stands out for Scotland each time he performs and is the closest factor to an Alun Wyn reserve possibility Gatland has, whereas the coach is large fan of the big-hitting Lawes, who missed many of the Six Nations by harm and may also put on the No 6.

Ireland's Tadhg Beirne has forced himself into Lions contention after a fine Six Nations

Eire’s Tadhg Beirne has pressured himself into Lions rivalry after a wonderful Six Nations

FLANKERS

On the aircraft: Tom Curry (England), Justin Tipuric (Wales)

Vying for a spot: Josh Navidi (Wales), Sam Underhill (England), Jamie Ritchie (Scotland), Hamish Watson (Scotland), Peter O’Mahony (Eire)

Exterior probability: Josh van der Flier (Eire), Ben Earl (England), Aaron Wainwright (Wales)

There are many thrilling choices for Gatland on the flanks as he appears to be like for a mixture to beat the Boks on the breakdown. The tireless Curry shone regardless of a poor England effort and can absolutely begin, although Underhill missed the possibility to stake his declare by harm. He might must bide his time behind Tipuric, who exhibits no indicators of slowing down aged 31. Scottish duo Ritchie and Watson additionally loved wonderful Six Nations’ whereas Gatland made O’Mahony captain for the primary Take a look at in 2017 and can discover it laborious to disregard him. Once more, steadiness and flexibility will likely be key. 

Tom Curry was outstanding for England in the Six Nations despite their poor performance

Tom Curry was excellent for England within the Six Nations regardless of their poor efficiency

No 8

On the aircraft: Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

Vying for a spot: Billy Vunipola (England), Sam Simmonds (England)

Exterior probability: Matt Fagerson (Scotland)

Whereas Gatland is prone to choose one or two flankers who can play on the base of the scrum, he’ll need two out-and-out ball-carrying No 8s in his squad to tackle South Africa. Faletau’s return to type after years of harm bother has been refreshing to see – and in full distinction to his cousin Vunipola’s full lack of type for England. Simmonds, like his brother Joe, is one other to have been ignored by Jones who’s in rivalry, however Gatland additionally favours bulk and can wish to give Vunipola the time to get again to his finest. The retiring CJ Stander has dominated himself out.

Wales' Taulupe Faletau

England No 8 Billy Vunipola

Taulupe Faletau (left) and Billy Vunipola (proper) are cousins and each of Tongan heritage

POSSIBLE LIONS SQUAD 

Full-backs (2): Hogg, Williams

Wings (4): Adams, Nowell, Rees-Zammit, Watson

Centres (5): J Davies, Farrell, Henshaw, North, Tuilagi

Fly-halves (2): Russell, Sexton

Scrum-halves (3): G Davies, Murray, Youngs

Props (6): W Jones, Sutherland, M Vunipola; Fagerson, Furlong, Sinckler

Hookers (3): Cowan-Dickie, George, Owens

Locks (5): Beirne, J Grey, Itoje, AW Jones, Ryan

Flankers (4): Curry, Navidi, Tipuric, Underhill

No 8s (2): Faletau, B Vunipola 

Nation breakdown: England 13, Wales 12, Eire 6, Scotland 5

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