Head coach, Warren Gatland released his 37 player strong squad today in a much anticipated announcement. The Lions are nearing their tour to South Africa and the announcement has the excitement building. The English have the most players selected with 11 getting on the plane, whilst 10 Welsh players and 8 from each of Ireland and Scotland round the team out.
Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones was also confirmed as captain, beating out the likes of Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Stuart Hogg for the role. His long standing relationship with Gatland will definitely benefit the team as they look to hit the ground running. Jones is the most capped international of all time with 157 caps and he has taken part in 3 Lions tours playing all previous 9 tests. He also has 1 cap as captain of the side under his belt. His great form during the 6 Nations definitely boosted selection probabilities and the 35 year old will be eager to prove his value.
Hamish Watson had much speculation surrounding his chance at making the cut, but his form during the Guinness 6 Nations made him impossible to leave out. Surprise omissions come in the form of Irelands CJ Stander and Johnny Sexton, along with English duo Billy Vunipola and Manu Tuilagi who just returned from injury.
The squad boasts a good mix of experience and youth, whilst most selections have been made on form, players like Courtney Lawes will still need to prove their fitness after returning from injury. Warren Gatland had his hands full in selecting the squad.
"In all my time coaching, this is the most challenging squad I've ever been involved in picking. To those players that have been selected, congratulations."
Sam Simmonds made the cut, after Eddie Jones refused to select the player during England's dismal performance in the 6 Nations. He was named player of the Championship and has yet to be capped by the national side.
The tour is scheduled to take place from the 3rd of July, with the final test scheduled for the 7th of August. This tour marks the 3rd time in a row, the touring side will face the Springboks as world cup winners.