The British and Irish Lions squad is out. After much uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour will go ahead in South Africa starting on the 3rd of July.
On Thursday the 6th of May, Warren Gatland, the three-time Lions Head Coach, named a 37-man roster. He believes this squad is good enough to beat the World Champions on their own patch.
Lions like Sexton and Davis miss out
As with any International squad there are a few players that will always be disappointed they won’t go. This is true when it comes to the Lions, as Gatland has a large pool of International players. There were a few shock inclusions and notable omissions from the squad, perplexing a lot of fans, players and pundits.
Despite injuries and fitness issues, many had pencilled in the Irish captain to be on the plane to South Africa. Sexton, who has six Lions appearances, would have provided an experienced option for the Lions at fly-half. Gatland chose otherwise.
At one point in the last few years, May was considered one of if not the best winger in International rugby. However, a poor six nations for him and England seems to have cost the Gloucester flyer. A recent ankle injury may be the reason May will not be heading to South Africa.
If Gatland is looking for power to combat South Africa, you would think that England number eight is your man. However, Gatland has decided to instead select Taulupe Faletau,
Jack Conan, and Vunipola’s rival for the England shirt Sam Simmonds. Vunipola’s exclusion could be down to his indifferent form, Saracens relegation, or England’s poor six nations. It could also be the comments he made about Warren Gatland a few years ago, but who knows.
Another big name that not in the squad. Like Sexton, Davis has struggled for form and fitness since his knee injury in 2019. Davies has started all six of the Lions most recent Test matches. He was player of the series in 2017. Many had thought the talent and experience of Davies would see him included in the squad.
Second-row is the most hotly contested position in the squad and unfortunately, a couple of star performers miss out. Jonny Gray happens to be one of those performers.
Only playing two games in the Six Nations would not have helped, but Gray would have hoped his exploits in the Premiership and Europe would be enough to see him make the squad. Unfortunately, he seems to have lost out to his Exeter teammate Jonny Hill.
Perhaps the most surprising omission from the squad. The surprise turns to disappointment when you watch Sinckler’s postgame interview after his man-of-the-match performance against Bath the other day for Bristol. Sinckler is one of England’s best performers in the last few years and look nailed for a big part of the squad.
Another player that will be absolutely gutted to miss out. Navidi has been a star performer for Wales. He would’ve hoped a good Six Nations would have been enough to see him be a part of the squad, unfortunately, he loses out to some top players in his position.
If you needed a reminder of how good Slade is, just watch his try against Worcester at the weekend. One of the more aesthetically pleasing rugby players in the world seems to be another casualty of England’s poor Six Nations performance. After a sublime 2020 for club and country, 2021 has not proven to be as successful.
Another talented Centre that does not make the cut. Ringrose was considered too young and inexperienced to be a part of the squad in 2017, but this year he misses out to teammate Bundee Aki. It seems like Gatland wants a powerful midfield.
One-half of the famous Kamikaze kids misses out largely due to a hip injury. After an excellent two years, injuries have hit Underhill at a tough time. As a result, he does not make the team.
The worst time to have a dip in form is during a Lions year. Ryan seemed nailed on to be a part of the squad last year. However, it seems that Ryan did not have enough credit in the bank to make it into the squad after a down 2021.