Lions announce squad to tour New Zealand

International
by Sam Phillips

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has named his 41-man squad that will take on the All Blacks in June.

Former NRL star Ben Te'o capped his meteoric rise with a berth among 16 English players, with 12 Welsh, 11 Irish and 2 Scottish players making up the remainder of the squad.

Sam Warburton becomes just the second player to captain two tours - a decision which has been the subject of much debate in recent weeks.

Surprise call-ups came in the form of Ireland fullback Jared Payne, England winger Jack Nowell and Wales back-rower Ross Moriarty.

England skipper Dylan Hartley missed the cut, as forecast, along with teammates George Ford and Chris Robshaw.

Gatland's squad will be aiming to become just the second Lions party to win a Test series in New Zealand, with the combined side's lone series success against the All Blacks coming in 1971.

"There's been healthy debate about the squad and now that it's been announced we need to get behind it 100 percent and get excited about travelling to New Zealand," Gatland said.

"There's competition for places and there will be players fighting for Test spots with no clear number one, number two or number three in certain positions.

"That's what makes us pretty excited about the quality of the squad going to New Zealand.

"We know how tough it will be - this is the toughest tour."

SQUAD

Fullback/wings

Elliot Daly (ENG), Anthony Watson (ENG), Lee Halfpenny (WAL), Liam Williams (WAL), George North (WAL), Stuart Hogg (SCO), Jack Nowell (ENG), Jared Payne (IRL), Tommy Seymour (SCO)

Centres

Ben Te'o (ENG), Jonathan Davies (WAL), Owen Farrell (ENG), Robbie Henshaw (IRL), Jonathan Joseph (ENG)

Fly-halves

Jonathan Sexton (IRL), Dan Biggar (WAL)

Scrum-halves

Conor Murray (IRL), Rhys Webb (WAL), Ben Youngs (ENG)

Back rows

Taulupe Faletau (WAL), Billy Vunipola (ENG), Sam Warburton (WAL, capt), Sean O'Brien (IRL), CJ Stander (IRL), Ross Moriarty (WAL), Peter O'Mahony (IRL), Justin Tipuric (WAL)

Locks

Maro Itoje (ENG), Alun Wyn Jones (WAL), Iain Henderson (IRL), George Kruis (ENG), Courtney Lawes (ENG)

Tighthead props

Tadhg Furlong (IRL), Dan Cole (ENG), Kyle Sinckler (ENG)

Hookers

Jamie George (ENG), Rory Best (IRL), Ken Owens (WAL)

Loosehead props

Mako Vunipola (ENG), Joe Marler (ENG), Jack McGrath (IRL)

FIXTURES

The Lions begin their 10-match tour against a Provincial Barbarians side in Whangarei on June 3, with the first of three Tests against the All Blacks in Auckland on June 24.

Saturday June 03

British & Irish Lions v Provincial Union XV, Whangarei

Wednesday June 07

British & Irish Lions v Blues, Auckland

Saturday June 10

British & Irish Lions v Crusaders, Christchurch

Tuesday June 13

British & Irish Lions v Highlanders, Dunedin

Saturday June 17

British & Irish Lions v Maori All Blacks, Rotorua

Tuesday, June 20

British & Irish Lions v Chiefs, Waikato

Saturday June 24, 1st Test

British & Irish Lions v All Blacks, Auckland

Tuesday June 27

British & Irish Lions v Hurricanes, Wellington

Saturday July 1, 2nd Test

British & Irish Lions v All Blacks, Wellington

Saturday July 8 3rd Test

British & Irish Lions v All Blacks, Auckland

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