British and Irish Lions Squad to tour South Africa

The Lions squad has just been announced by Gerald Davies at Heathrow, and here is the list of players selected.

Jamie Heaslip
Andy Powell
David Wallace
Stephen Ferris
Alan Quinlan
Joe Worsley
Martyn Williams
Alun Wyn Jones
Paul O’Connell
Donncha O’Callaghan
Simon Shaw
Nathan Hines
Gethin Jenkins
Adam Jones
Andrew Sheridan
Phil Vickery
Euan Murray
Jerry Flannery
Lee Mears
Mathew Rees

Lee Byrne
Rob Kearney
Shane Williams
Leigh Halfpenny
Ugo Monye
Luke Fitzgerald
Tommy Bowe
Tom Shanklin
Jamie Roberts
Brian O’Driscoll
Keith Earls
Riki Flutey
Ronan O’Gara
Stephen Jones
Mike Phillips
Harry Ellis
Tomas O’Leary

52 thoughts on “British and Irish Lions Squad to tour South Africa

  1. How one-dimensional do they want to make the back 5 of the pack. That’s South Africa’s strongest area and we have picked a load of big lumps (Martyn Williams aside), short of pace, athleticism and variety. Without wanting to over-react, I feel our chances have reduced already. the plan appears to be to out-muscle them – good luck with that. And if that doesn’t work, where do they turn? An athletic 2nd row such as Kennedy or a quick back rower with a lineout game such as Croft would have added something and created options. Alan Quinlan and Andy Powell? Really?

  2. Definitely a few surprises (Monye, Shaw, Earls, O’Leary). Disappointed that one out of Haskell, Croft, Rees didn’t make it, but the back row should be strong nonetheless….as they will have to be to face up to the best back row (in fact back 5 in the pack) in the world.

  3. Quinlan’s a very odd one, but he’s pretty strong like Worsley. Shame Croft isn’t there.

    No Ryan Jones and probably rightly so.

    No Mike Blair either, also touted at one stage as a potential captain.

  4. Surprised about Croft and Armitage missing out. Although a back row of Heaslip, Wallace and Williams still looks strong.

  5. I don’t know what you’re on about Stuart – realistically the best row is on the plane. Wallace at 7 (I certainly wouldn’t say he’s a big lump – in fact he’s own of the best loose forwards in world rugby at the moment), Jamie Heaslip at 8 (incredible in loose play), and then someone like Ferris or Worsley at 6 to chop down the big Springbok forwards…I’m enthused by the selection!

    Picking someone like Haskell (off form), Rees (injured and off form), Kennedy (good in the lineout, but not as effective in the loose as someone like O’Connell or Hines) seems pointless to me…so I’m happy they haven’t made the cut.

    Last time around the team was picked on reputation and look where it got us…let’s see how the form players do.

  6. Shaw had an absolute shocker when he was recalled by England – I don’t rate that selection at all. I’d much rather have Nick Kennedy, but maybe ‘Shawsy’ is going because he’s a good tourist!

  7. I’d say Shaw’s also going for balance, and to add bulk and height to the pack. If you’ve got O’Connell in the row, to dominate the set-piece you could do with someone massive and imposing. I’m not sure Wynn-Jones / O’Callaghan, etc would have the same clout.

  8. What’s the opinion on Keith Earls? I’ve hardly seen anything of him, barring Stuart Barnes purring over his performance in the Heineken Cup quarters last week. Is he as promising as they make out?

  9. Very happy with selection, the team is based on form players and no politics involved this time around. Ireland deserved the majority stake and in O’Connell they have the right man for the job.
    Their is a long way to go before the test team is selected and given the number of new faces and close calls on squad selection competition will be fierce – something recent tours haven’t had.
    All still on course for a good summer!

  10. Huge Munster representation (more than Scotland!), which is good and bad. Good because they are likely to be fresh from a Heineken Cup victory, bad because they’ll be knackered when they board the plane the day after the final.

  11. I can’t believe they aren’t taking Croft!!! I would have liked to have seen Rees on the plane as well but I understand he has been injured for a fair time. But really, Quinlan?

    I think Delon Armitage would have made a great tourist too and am surprised he wasn’t picked.

  12. ecstatic!!!!

    Like 97 Geech kows that to beat the Boks you have to neutralize their powerful runners, if you do that they will get frustrated and show themselves as lacking in imagination, they will destroy themselves.

    Geech will go for physical players in the entire team, the only job is to tackle the Boks. I like that they have taken Powell, he has the potential to play his way in but at the moment Heaslip has form, his defense against Quins was excellent. Worsley and Ferres are both tree cutter at 6.Wallace is the 7 due to his weight and power. Hines and Shaw at handling skills and weight to the second row.

    In BOD, Roberts and Shanks we have excellent defensive centers.

    Monye, Fitzgerald and Bowe are big wings, Byrne is Brave

    The 9’s are all aggressive players, the one who makes the best decisions on the tour will get the place.

    10 is still the problem, Jones will play due to his defensive skills,don’t exclude the idea of playing Flutey there as an experiment nut as we have no GK fullback I doubt it, Geech loves good kickers.

    Geech knows you’re not going to run around the Boks you have to take them on physically and win, it is the only way. He has picked the tema to do it.

    Brig it on.

  13. As many Munster men as English players (8) – all points to the six nations best performer been left behind – Declan Kidney.

  14. What an angry, massive front five they’ve picked. This squad certainly won’t get beaten up by the provincial teams on the way to the tests. Send Shawsy and Hines out there so they won’t take any nonsense!

    You can pick a whole back line and a sub from Ireland out of that squad. I think Cueto and Armitage are unlucky to miss out.

    I don’t know a great deal about Earls either – he did play very well in the HC quarters but that is a bold shout.

  15. Really can’t see how Worsley and Quinlan are better than Croft, particularly given the Saffers awesome line-out. Also looking at the wingers, I’m not filled with confidence although I can’t really make a case for anyone else apart from possibly Cueto.

    Anyone know when the standby list will be announced?

  16. I suppose they’re just different Kemlo. Croft likes to collect kicks downfield, support outside backs and Worlsey and Quinlan like to dive headfirst at people’s knees.

  17. Sorry John, I forgot what shocking form Croft and Armitage have been in.

    What I’m on about is options. Even if you are going to favour the big lads, you at least want alternatives in case it doesn’t come off, eg the pace of Croft of the lineout athleticism of Kennedy who is the best lineout stealer in the world bar Matfield. Nobody’s even mentioned Quinlan and I just don’t see what he adds that is not there already. Same with O’Callaghan. there’s no plan B in that squad. I’d only make 2 changes to the back 5 but for me that would open up so many more alternatives.

    Think Armitage is unlucky – never a test contender but think he would have done well. Basically Earls has got his spot. Concerned about only 2 fly-halves. That means they both have to be involved in every game because there’s no cover elsewhere. If I was a Saffa (which I’m not, thank God) I would apply a well-placed knee to the head in the week before the first test. I’d have taken Dwayne Peel as well.

    On the plus side, they have picked people who know how to win big games, namely the Munster boys. And now they’ve finally managed to transfer that on to the big stage. Being able to figure out how to win under pressure is the most important thing and you can see what a priority that was for the selectors by the fact that almost all 50-50 decisions have gone the way of the guys playing in the successful teams.
    Against that, good point from James re Heineken Cup final. Those boys are going to be buggered.

  18. The biggest pisser for me is that Andy Powell is in there – he is a brainless fool. Now you can maybe tolerate that at 6, but not at 8.

  19. “Sorry John, I forgot what shocking form Croft and Armitage have been in.”

    I didn’t say that they were off form. I think Croft has been supplanted by guys like Worsley and Quinlan because they are tougher and will chop down the Boks. I’m not saying that’s better, but’s it’s certainly not a bad option against SA.

    As for Armitage, he had a great 6N, but since then he’s suffered in that he’s played in a London Irish that are stuttering, whereas someone like Halfpenny (who I think has probably taken his spot rather than Earls as they both play in the back 3 and Earls has been playing centre more) has been playing a blinder in some big games for Cardiff. It’s unfortunate that Armitage is playing for Irish as if he was with a team still in HC contention I imagine he’d have been ok.

    As for Kennedy, he’s just not as experienced as the other 2nd row options they’ve brought. Hines is there as the lineout expert, and has probably pipped Kennedy, and, frankly, I’d have Hines ahead of Kennedy every time. He’s more heavyweight, and his lineout isn’t that much worse than Kennedy, if at all. He also hasn’t played in many big games whereas the other 2nd row options all know what it’s like playing in big European games which is obviously an advantage.

  20. Ryan Jones must be massively gutted. Can he go on captaining Wales when he can’t make the lions squad yet 13 of his squad can. Saying that he can play in a few places and there are bound to be injuries, so I wuold put money on it that he still puts on the Lions Jersey this summer.

  21. Here’s a break down of country and league.

    Wales 13
    Ireland 13
    England 9
    Scotland 2

    Magners 27
    Guiniess 9
    French 1

    I wonder what the make up of the starting 15 will be. I’m a bit concerned with the low amount of GP players, it’s a far more physical league the the ML and that physicallity will be needed against the S.Africans.

  22. The only reason Hines is in is to smack a few bokke midweek before they biff the Lions. First red card of the tour without doubt.

    The Welsh Tafia obviously influenced the Rees and Powell selections ? Possible sweetener for non selection of Ryan Jones. The door for Jones closed when he was double teamed by Leamy and Quinlan in the HC – just after that the camera settled on Gatland and his face was a picture.

    Great for Quinlan and Earls. Good shout by McGeechan.

    I think they should put all talk of ’97 in the bin and look forward.

  23. Tremendously happy with the make up of the squad on a whole, only surprise for me was the ommision of Croft and the selection of Powell, I thought he played great rugby at the beginning of the season but then started to run directly at defenders and forgot how effective his step was. Also would have rathered see BOD as Capt, I think O’Connell is going to be the 3rd or 4th best second row on the pitch come test time, and I believe this may affect his decision making.

  24. Bring it on B & I Lions….we’re waiting for you!. This time round our kicker won’t cost us the Series like in ’97!. Geezz……with the boring NH rugby the Lions won’t even win one Provincial match in SA!.

    Brian O’ Driscoll, the Springboks are waiting for you……our Jean De Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier & Frans Steyn are going to run circles around you!!!!!!……..and Shane Williams (most arrogant player ever) I don’t even want to talk about……he’ll be tackled silly and all that will be left after each test, is a red tain on the field!!!.

    Bring it on Lions!!!!.

  25. Ah, our first bit of South African ‘banter’ if that’s not an oxymoron. A bit like Australian but without the humour.

    Let battle commence.

  26. the biggest losers are England, the makeup of the squad shows the lack of real class in the current England setup,I have a feeling that there will only be one England player in the XV.

    Martin Johnson must have been praying, that some of the 50/50 calls would have gone the way of his young players, not that they would have made the test team but like 97 changed player like Dawson, Back, Hill and Johno himself so could this tour have developed players such as Croft, Armitage, Kennedy and Cipp. Not suggesting that the Lions selectors should take this into account, their job is to win a series, nothing else, and I like the look of the squad.

    Cipp was never in with a chance but the other three could have well have traveled, some good news Monye and Mears will come back better players good for them, and their country.

  27. Paynie (20) – ditto Borthwick. Who’d have thought it.

    As an Englishman, I’m surprised to see that the eight English players selected (and based on the last year or so, I guess eight is about right) includes Worsley, Shaw and Vickery. Many other intriguing selections….just a shame that we have to wait until Geechs’ autobiography before we get to hear his rationale.

  28. Well, Werrie, you’ve got me to bite.

    But only to tell you that Jean de Villiers probably wont play as he’s injured his groin. Good news for the Lions.

    Oh, and is that the same overated Shane Williams that scored two tries against you last time he was over?

  29. Not a bad selection. Feel sorry for Armitage/Croft/Kennedy/Cueto/Max Evans/Thom Evans/Patterson/Ford/Hayes – think they’re unlucky not to be included, but saying that, there was always going to be players that were unlucky to miss out on selection.

    Concerned about the lack of options at fly half – maybe Geech’s is seriously considering flutey as a wildcard option?

    Very physical, impressive pack

    Should be a good tour

  30. I am really happy with selection ‘Geech knows what he is doing. Back row for me is critical and Wallace is best there is and with Worsley who will get on for first half to chop the boks midfield to pieces just like he did to the Fabled Welsh midfield, when he smashed Roberts backwards time and again.
    Worsley is the best defender in the squad and that’s where we have to start on the Boks Turf
    The interesting/odd selection is Flutey I don’t think he did that much in 6 nations.

  31. Just want to say congrat’s to Keith Earls for making the jump from Provincial to International rugby, skipping the Irish XV all together. Geech is going to make him one of the greatest.

  32. The Guinness may be more physical league than the Magners but that certainly hasn’t shown in the Blues performance on the last two weekends in particular, nor Munster’s at any time.

    Earls is something of a ‘utility’ in that he can play at centre, wing or fullback and has been playing well all season.

    As for tackling Shane Williams out of the game, well catch him first. If you recall last summer playing for a beaten Welsh team he left several ‘Boks on their backsides

    Sadly there will always be disappointed players & one eyed fans. I also wonder what will happen if O’Gara / Jones are targeted and get crocked.

    If Worsley is “chopping” the midfield he isn’t doing anything else, which means the boks (like Wales, who won the game) will accept and play around it. Sure he’s a big tackler but what else does he do?

    Looking forward to it and seeing where all our opinions leave us, let’s face it none of us are fit to tie Geech’s boots when it comes to all things “Lions”

  33. I doubt Worsley will play in the test team. At the moment it is looking like the Irish backrow, Powell can play his way in to the team with a bit of confidence, but Heaslip is number one at the moment.

    Really hope Byrne is fit to play, with him we have a real cutting edge in the back three, would like to see Williams but can see Bowe, Monye and fitzgerald being picked for their size and defensive capabilities. Williams to come on late and run at some tiered backs, can work.

    I hope that Roberts or shanks can create the space for BOD to show what he can do.

  34. Thiis is a very good squad picked fo SA as he has went on form instead of something like reputation. If I had to about surprizes I’am surprized to see earls go instead of someone like Armitage who had an excellent 6 nations.

    Iam glad Ryan Jones is’nt included because he’s useless

    Although i didnt see it coming I’am very happy that Quinny is going as he is a wonderfull player and brings a lot more phyicality to the squad

    Would have to disagree with Sturat as Walace and Heslip are very quick and athletic men but maybe could of inclueded Croft

    Its also good to see that he included gifted youngesters such as Halfpenny Fitzgearld, Kearney and Feris

  35. cant believe that Geeks left out Armitage, otherwise a good selection. Some nice wild card selections.
    come on you lads, you CAN upset the applecart!!!

  36. Can’t argue with front row selection unless you harp about ‘Vicks’ being a bit last season! but he’s there for morale, experience, team building blah blah then at the sharp end can play either side if the last post is sounding.
    Sheridan was mullered most of the scrum 6N but not by any better loose heads(they don’t play the same side) so can’t see Hayes in with a shout yes he wacked ‘Ted’ but can’t play 1.
    Locks; how many flankers now jump in the line? so many it makes 2nd row line-out specialist almost redundant. So the Kennedy cause is a little undermined, good future prospect but maybe a tour too early?
    If they took the entire Welsh/Irish back row it would be enough lets be honest. Cases for Worsley; good couple of ‘comeback’ games, Croft good prospect again, Armitage???????????????? I watched the Scot/Italy game at Murrayfield, Parrise needs a passport to qualify for the Lions I know(he’s good) but the Scots didn’t get near him. Any of those going south? I don’t think so.
    9’s pretty good, though Stringer(see reasons for Vicks) and Peel close shout.
    10’s Obvious. should there be a 3rd? Yes probably and that might have been kicking metronome Patterson but isn’t in a regular spot.
    The rest? good arrows;
    Centres were always going to be BOD and Shanks, Roberts excellent extra. Hard on Henson/Hook I don’t think so maybe Tindall instead of Flutey but neither outstanding.
    Wings; Cueto was my left-field choice so not surprised, good all round.
    15’s; like everyone’s been saying tough on Delon but a tour too early? Byrne & Kearney come on inked in 2months ago!! Poss’ take him instead of Earls as Delon can also play 15,11,14,13,12. But McGeechan is the Jedi Master ‘Yoda’ lets get behind him and will them all to victory. ROAR Lions ROAR.

  37. i’ve been saying for months that if Earls keeps playing the way he has since the start of the season he’ll go on the tour. He’s a real wild card but immensely talented, he’s barely been capped but i think the intensity of big Heineken cup games in which he has really shone is on a par to the big 6N games. For anyone who hasnt seen him type him into youtube, i’m not trying to overhype him but i honestly think that he’s the current most exciting player in the northern hemisphere, seriously check him out. A real star in the making and i know it shouldnt really make any difference but he comes from a seriously rough area of Limerick City proving that rugby in this part of the world isn’t just for the upper classes. only problem with the selction is the exclusion of Mike Blair, i cannot get over it! he’s the scrum half on these isles, he should be going on tour at the expense of either O’Leary actually no… definately Ellis, maybe Peel instead of O’Leary. My own thinking is that they have selected big physical scrum halves to take care of O’Gara who can be roughed up and will definately be targetted down his channel,which also explains the bruiser back-row

    What are peoples thoughts on Cipriani?

  38. There are not eight englishmen and two scotsmen selected on the lions tour.
    Flutey and Hines have played for England and Scotland respectively but that does not confer nationality upon them ( I wonder what passports they hold?).

    Nothing personal against either, but two things:

    What kind of message to British and Irish centres and second rows?

    We have now tarred the Lions with the same brush as the south sea island franchise known as the All Blacks ( laughingly and ridiculously still called New Zealand by the delusional inhabitants of that archipelgo!).

    The game has been pushed down this path by the mercenary ,win at all costs, tactics of in particular our antipodean friends. It is to our shame and the detriment of our game that our gutless authorities have allowed them to get their way and succumbed to it.(Just like with the farcical, self serving ELVs R.I.P.) What bets that the Scots go down the same path as New Zealand and we see the same pathetic scenario, hardly a native accent in their national team.

    It should be called the British, Irish, New Zealand and Australia Lions. Very sad.

  39. Peter B. Have been saying the same since Prince Obelinsky!!!
    With a bit of seriousness though only as close away for me; or as far away for the younger as the early nineties!!! we have Dewi Morris (Welsh) Mike Catt(SA) Jonno English alright; Schoolboy honours for who? Andy Reed I grew up with him in Cornwall played for Who(Scotland I beleive) wot was the Haverford West boy who played on England’s wing?? I can’t think begins who H I’m sure it does. Then Brent Cockbain(Aus) Welsh lock, Horsman(Eng) Welsh prop hell I could go on. Don’t mention Scotland again, But we can mention H. Paul & L. Vainakolo (Eng) though. Yes I know not all Lions but played International Rugby so it made them selection choices.
    The country of birth rule died when money got involved in the Eighties.

  40. Think its a good squad mainly,although i would of put Peel/Blair way ahead of ellis.

    and to Tyjames Earls also plays 11,12,13,14,15..

    It ws on the wing nd at fullback he got capped for ireland.

  41. Croft was unlucky because of his speed and lineout capabilities but his lack of tackling let him down, he knows what to work on, will be there next time.

    Third Flyhalf would be good, there are however no options, Hook has been chronic, Cipp not much better and has an attitude problem, Robinson was in with a shot due to form but no experience at the highest level. I would have taken Patterson for his kicking, we are lacking in depth in that department, bur he is no 10, thats for sure. Looks like flutey will offer cover there.

    Ford again was unlucky but he played himself out lately, however with three hookers been taken, I would have left Rees at home and gone for some weight, me might have come good during the tour if not you haven’t lost much.

    Everybody says Blair is off form, which s true but I haven’t seen Ellis show much lately so I am puzzled he went, Blair has more class to bring than Ellis and I thought was worth taking the risk.

    Front row, excellent, Ford unlucky
    Locks all good strong men, lots of options.
    Backrow, Worsley overkill, Croft or Leamy unlucky
    Halfbacks Blair instead of Ellis
    Centers great choice, strong area for us
    Back three, loads of talent, really exciting.

  42. andy powell is crap he has no skill he just runs straight into people and does that in south africa he will get nailed. Cant believe ryan jones isnt in the team but its wale own fault for putting at 6 in the 6n. i also feel sorry fo blair.

  43. Ty, of course you are right, this is not new for any of the international teams ( some worse than others) but I believe that it is a first for the lions and the Flutey scenario is just so outrageous ;at least Hines has been around a while and may possibly just know the first line of ” Oh Flower of Scotland”!

    It would have been good if the British and Irish Lions could have remained for people that hold passports for those constituent nations, where their choice of who they played for was governed by love of country not love of money or because they were not good enough to play for the team of their heart or even of first choice!This is not how it is for the other 37 players selected or all of the other players that the Blog contributors are championing, they would have had childhood fantasies of playing for the Lions as we all did when we first through the ball around. Hines quite rightly would have dreamt of the green and gold and Flutey of the Black.

    The Lions concept is all about tradition,perhaps the last bastion, it is unique and this has been irreparably and unfairly damaged – in my view.


  44. Peter B, you are talking pompous crap.
    No one will give a toss if either Hines or Flutey ends up being part of a winning test series.
    By the way you left Gatland out of your ridiculous whinge.

  45. Grubber Jonny, what has Gatland got to do with it? You are clearly incapable of following a logical argument, whether you agree with it or not. However, I shouldn’t be surprised given your unnecessarily personalised attack on my opinions.

    Having re read your previous comment, 22 above , it reminds me of my rugby days where the guy in the pub who rejoiced and bragged the most about gratuitous violence on the field was usually not the guy who dished it out ( only because of fear of retribution before the referee or team mates could intervene) and was inevitably the one who came in after the whistle “don’t hold me back lads” ( translated as, ” hurry up grab my arms before I have to do something!!”). The real so called hard men actually never talked about it and most were usually ashamed of their actions later.

    I suspect the cap will fit in your case.


  46. O’leary could possibly be out of the Lions tour due to a broken ankle. Cusiter is rumored to be first in line followed by Blair and Peel, just the first of many more to fall before the our starts so for all the unlucky people left out just wait.

  47. “The country of birth rule ” actually died when rugby was born Wales and England have always been getting into spats about each selecting players qualified for the other and this goes back to the 19th century not the 1980’s . England in particular had a penchant for picking Welsh born players attending one or other of the Oxbridge universities . South African born players were also a favourite. Nothing new under the sun there .

    Flutey qualifies and thats the end of it and his Lions status might get him a few more Euros from his new employers in Brive ;-)

  48. Sorry Peter B, I have no idea what you are babbling on about.

    Unfortunate for O’Leary. I have heard Mc Geechan is not going to select his replacement for a couple of weeks. Why ? Surely Blair is a shoe-in.
    There is a rumour going around that he is trying to fast track a passport application for Mauro Bergamasco after his eye catching SH performance at Twickenham. Not another Johnny foreigner on the tour I hear you say- expect more rants from PeterB.

  49. Oh Jonny , I think you know only too well what I was “babbling on about”.

    Perhaps though you might consider sparing us your lightning wit,”smack”, “Biff”, “Johnny foreigner”, etc. or should it be Jonny foreigner!

  50. How can people say that the players picked for the back row are one dimensional. Jamie Heaslips try against France showed that he has pace and a step and he is also strong. Andy Powell had a great start to the 6 nations and David Wallace has been one of Irelands best and most consistent players in recent years.

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