Four British and Irish Lions Bolters - Forwards

Four British and Irish Lions Bolters - Forwards

A left-field pick. Every four years one of the most hotly debated subjects on the British and Irish Lions squad is that of who the next bolter will be. British and Irish legend Sir Ian McGeechan had great success while including bolters in his side with the likes of Will Greenwood and Jeremy Guscott being selected as bolters in his squads with Greenwood being uncapped and Guscott with just one cap when they received the call.

We selected four bolters, one from each of the Home Nations singling out backs and now we move onto four forwards. While it is unlikely for an uncapped botler to make the Lions squad in the modern era, there is certainly a case for a relatively unknown or inexperienced player to picked under current Lions head coach Warren Gatland for the tour to South Africa.


Gatland didn't make too many surprising editions to his squads in the pack but there is always a chance he may do it for 2021.   

We have picked a potential bolter from each of the Nations that make up the Lions (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) with the only restriction being that they must have 10 test cap or less and play in the pack.

Rory Sutherland - Scotland, 7 caps

At 27, Sutherland is the oldest player on our list but far from the least capable of forcing his way into the squad. 

Sutherland came back from the rugby wilderness during the 2019 Six Nations after the prop was absent from the big stage for more than three years but returned with a series of powerhouse performances. After suffering a serious adductor injury.

Sutherland was sublime on his comeback for Scotland with even Lions great Sir Ian McGeechan signing his praises saying: "He's been absolutely brilliant. He's not just a good technical rugby player, he can play, he can run, he makes an impact."

Rhys Carre - Wales, 8 caps


Not all bolters will be uncapped but Rhys Carre was close to being a World Cup bolter for Warren Gatland's final Wales' Rugby World Cup squad.

He had just one test cap to his name when he was named in Gatland's World Cup squad and could follow that up with a call up to the Lions squad.

Gatland obliviously rates the 22-year-old loosehead and although he has shown that he has what it takes to make it as a test international prop and potentially a Lions International, what makes Carre more of bolter is the opposition he has for the jersey. The likes of Cian Healy, Mako Vunipola, Rory Sutherland and potentially Joe Marler will all be in the mix for a place in the squad making it incredibly contested for Carre.

A powerful loosehead, Carre shed the kilos before the Rugby World Cup in Japan to force his way into the squad and it has ultimately made him a better player. Whether he can continue to improve and impress will be another task ahead of him particularly with the current uncertainty of how much time the players will have to prove their worth.

Jack Willis - England, uncapped

If Willis were to be called for the Lions he would ultimately become one of the most famous bolters in Lions history.

Untested at test level with England, Willis had thrived in the Premiership with Wasps averaging 2.6 turnovers per game totaling at 28 - before the season was put on ice.

His tally is 13 better than the next best and his exploits on the pitch go much further than that as he is a speedy openside with ball in hand and solid defender - much like the template of Justin Tipuric. 

While a call up for a young bruiser like Ted Hill or Adam Wainwright, who can cover multiple roles, wouldn't be too surprising picking Willis over a raft of quality opensides in the Home Nations would be.

Although, Willis certainly is capable to make the jump into the Lions, even if it is just for the midweek games.  

Caelan Doris - Ireland, 2 caps

The number eight’s Six Nations was brutally curtailed after a head knock forced him off the pitch just minutes into his debut but he has shown promise enough to force Andy Farrell to move CJ Stander to the side of the scrum for the youngster to make his debut.

Doris has excelled at Leinster but limited opportunities to show what he is made of at test level has curtailed his involvement due to injury and the coronavirus.

A gifted runner and hard worker on defence, Doris could well be on the plane to the Repulic despite the stiff competition for the #8 jersey. Fellow Ireland and Leinster teammate Ronan Kelleher could well join him after a metric rise.

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