British & Irish Lions Squad Selection: Community Selection

Lions

Over 3600 votes have been cast to pick a Lions squad, the tallies counted and the results are in.

Front Row

Lions

Mako Vunipola 95%
Jack McGrath 80%
Joe Marler 49%

Cian Healey 39%

Lions

Tadhg Furlong 95%
Dan Cole 77%

WP Nel 55%
Kyle Sinckler 39%

At prop Mako Vunipola and Tadgh Furlong should both start packing their bags and checking the expiry dates on their passports – with 95% of the vote they are nailed on to tour and with strong showings from Jack McGrath and Dan Cole ensuring they should be joining them.

Should WP Nel be able to prove his fitness before tour then he should be able to hold off a late charge from Kyle Sinckler for the third tighthead spot based on solid performances before his injury.

At loosehead the running is tighter with Joe Marler leading Cian Healey by 10% for the final spot

Lions

Jamie George 83%
Rory Best 79%
Ken Owens 70%

Dylan Hartley 26%
Fraser Brown 15%

The competition for hooker sees the most closely fought battle for the starting jersey with only 4% of the vote between 1st and 2nd choice. Some impressive performances off the bench have been enough for many people to hand the honours to Jamie George, with Rory Best warming the bench and Ken Owens leading out the midweek side. The gap between Owens and Hartley shows how far behind he has fallen in the public opinion.

Second Row

Lions


Maro Itoje 98%
Joe Launchbury 91%
Jonny Gray 64%
Alun Wyn Jones 63%
George Kruis 45%

Iain Henderson 41%
Courney Lawes 39%

In the second row Maro Itoje and Joe Launchbury are streets ahead of their nearest rivals to form an all English second row for the tests. A long way behind them, Jonny Gray and Alun Wyn Jones did enough during the Six Nations to avoid falling out of contention.

George Kruis picks up the final berth after having slipped down the pecking order through injury and will need to prove his fitness quickly with only a narrow lead in the vote over two players who had strong showings in the Six Nations – Iain Henderson and Courtney Lawes – who are both hot on his heels with only 2% of the vote to separate them as to which would take his place.

Back Row

Lions

Billy Vunipola 348 97%
CJ Stander 337 93%
Sam Warburton 322 91%
Justin Tipuric 237 65%
Sean O’Brien 215 56%
Peter O’Mahony 210 56%
Taulupe Faletau 202 58%

Chris Robshaw 162 53%

Despite missing the start of the Six Nations through injury, Billy Vunipola is the top pick to start at Number 8, with CJ Stander on the blindside and Sam Warburton picking up the 7 shirt after a strong Six Nations. Justin Tipuric should feature off the bench.

The mid-week team sees Irish flankers with Sean O’Brien on the openside and after an impressive performance against England, Peter O’Mahony has snuck in on the blindside. Taulupe Faletau slots in at number 8 after missing the start of the Six Nations and facing stiff competition for the Welsh shirt from Ross Moriarty.

Despite having missed the entire Six Nations through injury Robshaw was extremely unlucky to miss out (again) and was only 5% of the vote away from making the team.

Scrum Half

Lions

Conor Murray 98%
Rhys Webb 83%
Ben Youngs 52%

Greg Laidlaw 26%

No surprises here that Conor Murray is starting with Rhys Webb warming the bench. Ben Youngs has done enough to pick up the 3rd slot despite some mixed performances of late helped by Greg Laidlaw missing much of the build up to the tour through injury.

Fly Half

Lions

Johnny Sexton 345 99%
Owen Farrell 322 92%

Finn Russell 152 43%

In the most foregone category of them all we see both Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell streets ahead of their nearest rival Finn Russell with Sexton leading the vote to see him take the starting Jersey with a colossal 99% of the vote.

Centres

Lions

Jonathan Joseph 91%
Robbie Henshaw 85%
Jonathan Davies 55%
Garry Ringrose 47%

Ben Te’o 23%
Alex Dunbar 22%

Many people found this category the hardest to select with some of the leading candidates already selected in other positions and the frustrations were evident in the drop off in the voting numbers. Farrell is likely to provide cover for fly-half and centre, and Elliot Daly could travel as a utility back, but otherwise it felt like the centre options were the thinnest for Gatland and his management team.

The leading candidates see Robbie Henshaw at inside and Jonathan Joseph at outside. There is then a big drop down to the next two candidates with the experience of Jonathan Davies and the raw talent of Garry Ringrose seeing them make the squad.

There is not much to choose between the two players who miss out with only a single vote separating Dunbar and Te’o so both should keep their phones nearby in case of an injury call up.

Outside Backs

Stuart Hogg 306 89%
George North 273 80%
Elliot Daly 267 78%
Liam Williams 256 75%
Anthony Watson 241 70%
Jack Nowell 168 49%

Tommy Seymour 125 36%

The players topping the vote would see Stuart Hogg at fullback with Elliot Daly and George North on the wings just ahead of Liam Williams and Anthony Watson who were not far behind.

The final berth goes to industrious Jack Nowell seeing off the challenge from Tommy Seymour.

So here is the test team as picked by The Rugby Blog community:

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Maro Itoje
5. Joe Launchbury
6. CJ Stander
7. Sam Warburton
8. Billy Vunipola

9. Conor Murray
10. Jonny Sexton
11. George North
12. Owen Farrell / Robbie Henshaw
13. Jonathan Joseph
14. Elliot Daly
15. Stuart Hogg

By Leon Entwistle

32 thoughts on “British & Irish Lions Squad Selection: Community Selection

  1. Looks like a pretty decent squad on paper. A few minor tweaks positionally and I reckon this could be the starting 15.

    All we need now is a poll to see who we think should be the captain!?
    I think from this selection Warburton would get the most votes.

    1. Perhaps Hutch could quickly cobble one together so we can get the votes in before the squad announcement next week. There aren’t that many realistic candidates

      1. You’d like to think that whoever we wanted on the captain’s poll list would get selected, but you never know!!

  2. A tricky 1, as this is a wish list team & not the 1 Gatland will likely pick. Also it’s misleading as WG will pick from 37, not 15. However, as it stands I can see the fr row props being approp, but George @ hooker is an issue for me. Best or Hartley are both exp captains & that asset will be required in NZ. So Best, as assertive & less likely to be pinged. Launchbury & AWJ @ lock as Itoje was not effective esp v Ireland… & @ 6? Needs to stick to lock. B row? Maybe, but O’Brien @ 6 as he fulfils need for exp ball carrying ballast. Also Felatau is a better bet to start @ 8. He offers more variety. Billy was predictable & like Itoje, ineffective v Ireland. NZ will set him up. Poss better as a later sub, but even then have my doubts. 9 – 12 probably, but with Henshaw @ 13. JJ went awol, yet again, v Ireland. But Liam Williams has to be wing. He offers more than Daly who is out of posi & green. And either Kearney or 1/2penny @ f back. Hogg can be exposed on ‘D’ & NZ will know this. Prob 1/2penny as he can kick.

    1. Is this a wind up don?
      Hogg is a shoe in at 15 and halfpenny doesnt deserve to be anywhere near this lions squad let alone test team. Billy is best 8 by far although faletau is an pretty good back up. You say itoje was crap at 6 against ireland as a reason not to pick him at lock and im not sure i would take awj on tour either given the strength we have in that position.
      Williams for daly isnt a bad shout but its worth pointing out that williams would also be playing out of position and best for george is more realistic. And you may have a point about jj but if the backs can work him any space he is deadly

      1. Leon
        A wind up? Personally I’d be happy to Hogg @ f/back. The AB’s will target his acknowledged flawed ‘D’ by running @ him & with bombs. You can’t afford that weakness in NZ. And aren’t you presuming the Lions will get plenty possession? Halfpenny is picked by most pundits. He CAN defend, is exp & is a sounder all rounder. Billy WAS ineffectual v Ireland & the AB’s nullified Ireland in Dublin. It was a pivotal wake up call for England & their pack who had a whole 25% possession in the 1st 1/2! BV is predictable. Do you think NZ, esp @ home, can’t do what Ireland did to him… or Itoje, although I never stated that the latter was ‘crap’ at 6? However, Itoje was ineffective & is NOT natural No.6. Faletau is a more rounded footballing No. 8, although I think this may be relative in NZ. AWJ is exp, is a known to Gatland & will, in many’s opinions, tour. Williams has played plenty @ wing & is more EXP. Daly is too inexp, e.g., carries the ball under the inside arm & is a more natural centre.

      2. Leon
        To clarify ( ran out of time prev); regds Itoje, I would take him, but as a lock, not a 6. I would also take Hogg, however, he’s a defensive risk, unless in a winning team. Also, there are better wings than an out of posi Daly, for instance Seymour, who is better under the high ball than most & this qual will likely be tested on tour. Anyway, individuals are only part of a team who will play.. what style? Basically, when in possession the Lions will need to score tries (as will NZ). How & if they can do so are the ?’s. If, as people like Barnes & Jones of the S Times opine, that the Lions ought to play a set piece game & kick for territory & then presumably maul their way to victory, I suspect they’ll be in for a long tour. They ought to KEEP possession & use it effectively. This is not the so called AB’s way (whatever that is?!), it’s just common sense. Kick it away & I venture NZ will hurt them. So. getting too hung up on individuals isn’t really point here, it’s how they intend to play, as a team, to beat the AB’s that’s the issue @ stake.

  3. Here’s a comparison of the test team above with a potential (but probably not most likely) NZ test team (using the NZ team that played against France in the AIs [found on wikipedia], plus subs as noted in the article):

    1. Mako Vunipola v Joe Moody
    2. Jamie George v Dane Coles
    3. Tadhg Furlong v Owen Franks
    4. Maro Itoje v Brodie Retallick
    5. Joe Launchbury v Sam Whitelock
    6. CJ Stander v Jerome Kaino
    7. Sam Warburton v Matt Todd
    8. Billy Vunipola v Keiran Read

    9. Conor Murray v TJ Perenara
    10. Jonny Sexton v Beauden Barrett
    11. George North v Julian Savea
    12. Owen Farrell/Robbie Henshaw v Ryan Crotty
    13. Jonathan Joseph v Anton Lienert-Brown
    14. Elliot Daly v Waisake Naholo
    15. Stuart Hogg v Israel Dagg

    Subs:
    16. Jack McGrath v Codie Taylor
    17. Rory Best v Wyatt Crockett
    18. Dan Cole v Charlie Faumuina
    19. Jonny Gray/AWJ v Scott Barrett
    20. Justin Tipuric v Ardie Savea
    21. Rhys Webb v Aaron Smith
    22. Robbie Henshaw/Owen Farrell v Aaron Cruden
    23. Liam Williams v Rieko Ioane

    N.B. There are a couple of highly capped NZ not in this squad including Luke Romano, Sam Cane, Malakai Fekitoa and Ben Smith who are all likely to compete for starting/bench positions.

    1. None of those match-ups look too bad, though McGrath would struggle at hooker!
      I suspect that Ben Smith will be at 15, if fit, and Milner-Skutter will start, again, if fit.

      1. TT
        Dagg is the incumbent wing & has played well. M- Skudder has been out for a yr & wasn’t in the Canes last line up. Of course it’s a few wks yet. And then there’s Naholo too?

    2. Marco
      Baring injury, Ben Smith, Arron Smith & Cane will likely start for NZ.. as will Dagg, prob @ wing again. And they may have SBW on the bench?

  4. For me it would have to be:
    1- Vunipola, McGrath, Healy
    2- George, Owens, Brown
    3- Furlong, Nel, Cole
    4/5- Itoje, J Gray, Launchberry, Kruis, Jones
    6/7- Stander, Watson, Warburton, Tipuric, O’Mahoney
    8- Vunipola, Falatau

    9- Murray, Webb, Youngs
    10- Sexton, Russell
    12/13- Farrell, Daly, Taylor, Joseph, Henshaw
    11/14- North, Watson, Seymour, Nowell
    15- Hogg, Williams

    So that would be 13-Eng, 8- Ire, 8- Sco, 7- Wal

  5. I don’t get AWJ being named in all the squads; might just be me but I think there are far better options and he hasn’t played to a level that justifies his selection.

  6. Telegraph is reporting Josephs and Robshaw missing out on selection. I might not agree with Robshaw missing out but it is a hotly contested position and he has been injured. But Josephs?! Welsh centres were underwhelming, Scottish centres were leaky in defence, that leaves Henshaw, Ringrose and English centres. Of these I’d have thought Josephs would be high on the list!

  7. Telegraph says Brown, Joseph, Launchbury and Robshaw

    I’m afraid that all our fears over the selection of Gatland as coach are about to come true.

    1. Really worried about this. Best case scenario is that he is decided on Sexton/Farrell and wants a big lump outside them so will pick Henshaw/Davies and possibly even Scott Williams. Not the end of the world but I worry that he is going to try and play Warrenball against them. That could make for a long few weeks…

      1. With JJ excluded are we going to see Roberts come in….
        OH and how does the Telegraph get these leaks! they alway seem pretty accurate as well.

  8. Brown is fair enough, he’s a rock for England but Hogg and Kearney (with L Williams as back up) are all perhaps better options.
    Assuming Farrell is selected as a centre then that means the spare FH position goes to Russell or Biggar, smart money would guess Gats goes for Biggar.
    I just can’t fathom the Launchbury omission. He was one of the best locks in the 6Ns. Maybe Gats felt politically he couldn’t take 4 England locks?

    1. My guess is that he is taking the other English 3 plus AWJ, so Launchbury ended up in a shoot out with Henderson. Whilst I would have picked Launchbury, I can see the argument for Henderson particularly as a potential impact sub.

      1. Joseph, Ford, Brown and Robshaw – all integral parts of a team that equalled the longest winning streak in tier 1 rugby – a streak that included away test series win over Aus and a Grand Slam.

        Launchbury – an able deputy in that team and a key part of the 2017 6 Nations win with 2 man of the match displays.

        I cannot understand the omission of any of them.

        Should the likes of Halfpenny, Biggar, Russell, Roberts, S Williams, J Davies, Ringrose, O’Mahoney be selected in front of any of those 5, then the entire selection process is flawed.

        I shall await the announcement now, but if any of this is true, I fear we are going to get thumped by the Kiwis.

        1. Rumour has it there is still 15 English in there, so it’s not a nationalistic thing for me necessarily – it’s style.

          Looks like he will take Te’o over Joseph for example – pretty clear intention on how he wants to play.

          I can understand the Brown one as long as it’s Liam Williams or Watson taken as a reserve full back. If Halfpenny goes over him then it’ll be madness.

          Same with Ford. If Russell goes, I wouldn’t mind so much. He’s a seriously talented player, although a bit patchy. However if Biggar goes. Well, that’s just really poor.

          1. Agree with you here, I think Hogg and Williams will go as fullback with Watson able to step in therefore I think Brown won’t go.
            If Teo replaces Joseph I may be a little dissapointed, if J.Davies replaces him I will be mad and if Roberts replaces Joseph I’ll……..
            Launchberry will be unlucky to miss out, I have him equal with J.Gray, so ahead of Lawes, Jones and Ryan.
            With Ford for me it is Russell>Ford>>>>>>>>>>>Biggar.
            I like the idea of Sexton and Russell, fight fire with fire.If Gatland takes Biggar it will be fighting fire with a plentiful stream of High balls and whinging.

            A quick side-note about Russell, he spent a season playing in New Zealand a few years back as part of an SRU apprentiship thing. So he has valuable experience of how rugby is played in New Zealand.

            1. Its not nationalistic – its about success and winning.

              I didn’t whinge when Gatland took loads of welsh players in 2013, as at that point they were a better team than England. Nor when lots of Irish and Welsh were taken in 2009.

              At this point, England have a side that is one of the most successful the NH has produced (irrespective of whether they have played NZ or not). To leave integral parts of that team out of a Lions team facing its toughest challenge is just silly.

              Let’s take Robshaw as an example. Is there a more successful flanker than Robshaw in contention? He captained his side to a victory against the All Blacks and has beaten every other Tier 1 side he has played against.

              Sure he might not make the first team, but he and the current England team understand how to win and that will be crucial for this tour whether or not they make the Test side

      2. I will concede Lock was probably the most contested area and there were always going to be player feeling rightly aggrieved. That said, AWJ is probably the most similar players likely to go to Launchbury. Comparing the two, Launch is far and away the in form player after the 6n and AI’s. Even taking into account leadership, AWJ lead his team to their worst 6n’s in a long time and made some questionable decisions, whilst Launch is captain of the premiership leading team (yes I’m ignoring his lack of Wasps game time through injury and national duty…)
        I think this highlights the need for a lions coach who is not a current home nations coach, it stops them making objective decisions on best players as they’ll always have a tendency to trust in what they know.
        I am getting thoroughly ahead of myself here before any squad is actually announced though…

  9. Was just comparing this squad to the actual one and its not far off

    Missed Out:
    WP Nel (Injury)
    Joe Launchbury (Utter Madness)
    Jonny Gray (Unlucky/Face don’t fit)
    Garry Ringrose (Unlucky/Face don’t fit)

    In
    Kyle Sinkler 39% (Runner up, injury replacement)
    Iain Henderson 41% & Courtney Lawes 39%(picked ahead of Launch 89% and Gray 63%)
    Ross Moriarty 17% (squad expansion, outside bet at 12th most popular pick)
    Dan Biggar 20% (squad expansion, outside bet at 5th most popular pick)
    Jared Payne 6% (squad expansion, rank outsider at 11th most popular pick out of 18)
    Ben Teo 23% (picked ahead of Ringrose 48%)
    Tommy Seymour 35% (squad expansion, next in line)
    Leigh Halfpenny 25% (squad expansion, 2nd in line after Seymour)

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