The Omitted British & Irish Lions XV

The Omitted British & Irish Lions XV

Warren Gatland has made a number of surprising calls for his squad to tour South Africa.

The one unsurprising call was Alun Wyn Jones being named captain of the touring side. 

As with all Lions squads, there are a number of top class international players that fail to make the cut. 

We take a look at what a possible team of players, who didn't make the squad would look like.

1. Joe Marler - England

Marler made the squad last time out in New Zealand but revealed on Wednesday that he did not receive an invitation from the Lions. 

A quality scrummager and excellent on defnece and with ball in hand, Marler just edges Cian Healy and Ellis Genge in our omitted XV.

2. Rob Herring - Ireland

In Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jamie George and Ken Owens, Gatland has arguably picked the three best hookers from the four Nations. Ireland's first choice hooker can still feel hard done by as too could his young understudy Ronan Kelleher and Scotland's George Turner. 

3. Kyle Sinckler - England

One of the more surprising omissions from the squad, Sinckler misses out to the likes of Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter and Zander Fagerson. 

His discipline may have counted against him but the 2017 tourist, who played all three tests in New Zealand, is still extremely unlucky not to make the cut.

4. Jonny Gray - Scotland

Snubbed again. Jonny Gray had a strong Six Nations campaign and has been excellent for Exeter Chiefs but the hard-hitting second-rower was still not able to convince Gatland enough to make the squad.

5. James Ryan - Ireland

A year ago, James Ryan looked to nailed on starter for the Lions for many. A slight dip in form a lack of fitness sees him miss out.

6. CJ Stander - Ireland

A standout for Ireland recently, Stander is unfortunate to miss out on a second tour with Jack Conan beating him to a place in the squad. 

Jamie Ritchie can also count himself as extremely unlucky. 

7. Sam Underhill - England

Underhill's injury concerns sees him miss out. The flanker was outstanding during the Rugby World Cup but having missed the Six Nations, Hamish Watson and Tom Curry were able to beat him into the squad.

Josh Navidi joins Underhill as an extremely unlucky player to miss out. 

8. Billy Vunipola - England

Billy Vunipola missed the 2017 tour due to injury but a poor Six Nations from England means that he misses out. Vunipola had bright moments during the Six Nations but also had his shortcomings and a lack of competitive games outside of test rugby meant that Sam Simmonds beat him to a place in the squad.

9. Tomos Williams - Wales

One can not argue too much with the three scrumhalves Warren Gatland has picked. Three of the starters from the Home Nations all make the cut and with Ben Youngs making himself unavailable, the Lions boss' job was made quite a bit easier. Tomos Williams and Kieran Hardy will have fancied their chances as too would have Rhys Webb and Danny Care despite not playing any test rugby. 

10. Jonathan Sexton - Ireland

Arguably the biggest call in the squad was denying Jonathan Sexton a third tour. However, the Irish captain has still not returned from injury and that certainly counted against him.

Gregory Townsend's influence may have done Finn Russell a world of good and the form of Dan Biggar certainly didn't help Sexton's cause.

11. Jonny May - England

Another casualty of England's poor form in the Six Nations. May looked certain to make the squad judging by his 2019 and 2020 form.

However, May misses out to the likes of Louis Rees-Zammit, Josh Adams and Duhan van der Merwe, who all had great Six Nations campaigns.

12. Manu Tuilagi - England

Having not played since September, Tuilagi's chances were always going to be hampered and his inclusion would have been a gamble. Obviously, a gamble Gatland wasn't willing to take opting for the similar style of play with Bundee Aki. Cameron Redpath was also in the mix but also a bit of a long shot. 

13. Jonathan Davies - Wales

Take your pick between the likes of Davies, Henry Slade, Huw Jones and Garry Ringrose. All great players who would not have disappointed had they got their chance. Davies edges the lot having gone on two tours and was the player of the Series in the most recent one.

14. Keith Earls - Ireland

James Lowe, Jacob Stockdale, Keith Earls, Jack Nowell and so many other players could certainly count themselves unlucky not to make the cut. However, a standout Six Nations campaign and consistent performances sees Earls crack the nod in our omitted team.

15. Hugo Keenan - Ireland

Elliot Daly's inclusion may have surprised many but outside of that Gatland has the fullback jersey well covered with the likes of Anthony Watson, Liam Williams and Stuart Hogg in the side. Leigh Halfpenny may have thought that he had an outside shout but having fallen out of favour with Wales, it was always a long shot. Keenan, however, had a great Six Nations campaign and possible just missed out due to the quality of players in his position. 


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