All eyes were on London today as Warren Gatland and his coaching staff revealed the identities of the 41-man squad chosen to represent the British and Irish Lions on this summer’s massive tour to New Zealand.
Sam Warburton is named as Captain for the tour for the second time, having led the team on their successful tour of Australia in 2013. He joins Martin Johnson as the only two players to captain the Lions on more than one occasion – what an amazing honour. Warburton is, in my opinion, a superb choice: a great player, truly committed to the cause, he is also a brilliant ambassador for the game. A true professional, he is also a great role model, and is respected in rugby circles the world over. He’s also an absolute gentleman. I trust he will be outstanding in this role, especially since he experienced the Lions carnival four years ago, and knows exactly what to expect.
The Lions team is absolutely jaw-dropping. The announcement has been met with some controversy, particularly from the keyboard warriors on social media, who seem disgruntled by what they see as a lack of Scottish players included (two), and moreover, an excess of Welsh representation (twelve). While I must admit that even I was surprised to see so many Welsh players involved, I do believe those chosen have qualities that justify their selection. Equally, I had hoped to see the likes of Richie Grey, Johnny Grey and Finn Russell representing Scotland, – although there’s no doubting the Grey brothers had a huge task on their hands to make the squad, with the Second-row position being arguably the most competitive it has been for many, many years.
The full squad can be viewed here:
The tour explodes into life with a match against a Provincial XV on June 3rd.
I cannot wait!