BRITISH AND IRISH Lions head coach Warren Gatland has included 11 Ireland players in his squad to tour New Zealand this summer.
Ireland are well represented in the set-up with Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne included in the 41-man touring party.
Wales back rower Sam Warburton will captain the side for a second successive tour while England skipper Dylan Hartley has been left out of the squad altogether.
There are 16 English players, 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland and two Scots included with a breakdown of 19 backs and 22 forwards.
Among the more the surprising inclusions are Payne, who has struggled with injury this year, former Leinster centre Ben Te’o who has started just one Test for England, Wales flanker Ross Moriarty, and England prop Kyle Sinckler.
As had been widely tipped, England second row Joe Launchbury has been left out of the squad despite being nominated for the Six Nations Player of the Tournament.
Among the Ireland players who didn’t make the cut were Donnacha Ryan, Simon Zebo, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose and Cian Healy, while injured Leinster and Ireland duo Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney also miss out.
Backs: Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te’o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England).
Forwards: Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Peter O’Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Billy Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales, capt).
3 June: v Provincial Union XV, Whangarei
7 June: v Blues, Auckland
10 June: v Crusaders, Christchurch
13 June: v Highlanders, Dunedin
17 June: v Maori All Blacks, Rotorua
20 June: v Chiefs, Waikato
24 June: 1st Test v New Zealand, Auckland
27 June: v Hurricanes, Wellington
1 July: 2nd Test v New Zealand, Wellington
8 July: 3rd Test v New Zealand, Auckland
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