Seven players who may have enough credit with Warren Gatland to make the Lions squad

Seven players who may have enough credit with Warren Gatland to make the Lions squad

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will be naming the 36 players who will tour to South Africa on Friday.

With the squad announcement coming up, we take a look at seven players who may be out of form or injured but may have already racked up enough credit with Gatland to secure a place in the touring squad.


Jamie George

Gatland backed Jamie George to be his starting hooker during the 2017 tour, leaving out then England captain Dylan Hartley out of the squad for George to shine. The England hooker did not disappoint Gatland as he forced his way into the starting line up for the test matches and started all three games against the All Blacks.


George has been the first-choice hooker for Eddie Jones since Hartley's injury and subsequent retirement but more recently his starting role has been under siege from Luke Cowan-Dickie. 

The 30-year-old's performances since 2017 could have earned him enough credit to secure a place in the squad despite a recent dip in form and Saracens not playing top-flight opposition.


Mako Vunipola

A situation that is not too different from Jamie George. Mako Vunipola has had his struggles with injuries to go with a dip in form but he did show signs that he isn't too far from rediscovering his form.

It's highly likely that Vunipola will claim a place in the squad for his third British and Irish Lions tour with his past performances keeping him in the mix for selection. 

The matches before the tests could do the world of good for Vunipola. 

Jonathan Davies

Plagued with injuries, Jonathan Davies is a front runner for a Lions inclusion and he features on our list of players who may have enough credit in the bank for a different reason than other players on this list.

The player of the tour in 2017, Davies produced solid performances for Wales during the Six Nations and his credit in the bank could well be used when the coaching staff narrow their squad down to 36 players.

If there is a close call between Davies and another potential Lion, Davies is likely to make the cut. 

Rhys Webb

Rhys Webb is in a race against time to be fit for the British and Irish Lions tour but if he is in fact fit enough, he could make the cut.

Gatland is a well-documented fan of the 32-year-old Welsh scrumhalf and while there aren't three standout scrumhalf candidates, Webb can still fancy his chances.

Webb was snubbed for Wales' Six Nations squad earlier this year by Wayne Pivac and an injury prevented him from forcing his way into the squad during the tournament. 

Before his injury, Webb was in good form for the Ospreys and his reputation could see him feature in the squad.

Jonathan Sexton

Jonathan Sexton has featured in all six of the Lions most recent tests, starting five of them. 

Sexton is currently battling with concussions which meant he missed Leinster's Champions Cup semi-final against La Rochelle but few players will have earned as much credit with Gatland as the Irish pivot.

The 35-year-old Ireland captain went to the 2013 Lions tour with a foot injury but recovered in time and regained his form to steer the Lions to a series victory over Australia. 

He struggled with injuries in 2017 and even started the second and third tests with a broken wrist and played a large part of the third test with a ruptured ankle tendon. 

Manu Tuilagi

A tourist in 2013, Warren Gatland would have certainly picked Manu Tuilagi four years ago had he been fit. Four years on and Tuilagi looks to be regaining his fitness at the perfect time for the Lions boss. 

The 29-year-old was picked eight years ago by Gatland and when fit, Tuilagi is one of the best midfielders in the game. If Tuilagi is named in the squad on Thursday, which is highly likely, it will be off the back of no rugby in almost eight months. 

Tuilagi is a proven test centre and would have been an automatic pick in 2019 and hopefully, he has built up enough credit with Gatland to secure a place in the squad.

Elliot Daly

In multiple mock British and Irish Lions squads, the name Elliot Daly is omitted. However, Warren Gatland could back the utility English back to star in South Africa.

Daly knocked over a huge penalty from inside the Lions own half against New Zealand and he may be able to add an extra 10m on that on the Highveld, with two tests set to take place in Johannesburg. 

His ability to play on the wing, fullback and centre could also be a massive bonus for chances of making the squad. Daly admitted that he wasn't quite on top form for England during the Six Nations but Gatland could take a gamble on the 28-year-old to shine in the Republic, especially if that gamble comes with a boot from 60+ metres out. 

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