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Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 5 April, 2020

Planning ahead: 10 Irish players who could line out for the Lions in 2017

Brace yourself, New Zealand. These kids are (hopefully) coming

AFE Rugby provides rugby specific first aid training and skills to develop a club’s/school’s medical programmes for all levels.
AFE Rugby provides rugby specific first aid training and skills to develop a club’s/school’s medical programmes for all levels.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

GETTING AHEAD OF ourselves? You bet your ass we are!

The Lions’ tour of Australia come to something of a bittersweet end for the Irish sports fan. So we thought we’d take the opportunity to crank up the hype machine in good time for 2017 and the tour New Zealand.

By then the Lions will be out to end a 46-year wait for a win in the Land of the Long White Cloud, but we’ll still be arguing over selection and which province/country has the most players on Gatty/Schmidt/Lancaster/Geech ‘s big tour south.

Best get starting then, ay?

Cian Healy

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… 29 and still among the top looseheads in Europe. Was the basis for all the optimism at the scrum in 2013 so will have to dislodge Alex Corbisiero.

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Simon Zebo

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be... 27 and still lighting up the Heineken Cup and Six Nations. Gained a huge amount of respect in 2013 even if being a ‘good tourist’ is not the compliment he was looking for.

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Iain Henderson

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… 25 and a dominant force in Ireland’s second row. Made his international breakthrough in 2012  and his ability to cover a spot in the back row can only help his cause.

©Inpho/Billy Stickland

Conor Murray

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… 28 and dictating the play for Munster and Ireland. Experience and impressive outing in Australia 2013 tour will make him a favourite for any coach picking a squad, but he may still be competing against Ben Youngs.

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Luke Marshall

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… 26 and one of the best creative inside centres in Europe. Has the kicking and distribution to help any  out-half and may well have a nice combination going with Jonathan Sexton to make picking Jamie Roberts (who will be 30) a difficult decision.

©INPHO/Colm O’Neill

Stuart Olding

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… 24 and a regular feature in Ulster and Ireland’s back-line. Having made a home for himself at number 12 after arriving on the scene as a fullback, Olding looks likely to move again, to outside centre. That kind of versatility – not to mention his pace and eye for a gap – is invaluable on a long tour in the southern hemisphere.

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Robbie Henshaw

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… 24 and a fullback with considerable international experience. The Connacht man is another who can perform more than a decent job at outside centre, so that flexibility could help him be called as an understudy for (then 28-year-old) Leigh Halfpenny.

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Sean O’Brien

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… A 30-year-old beast in the back row and a potential captain of the tour. Showed his hunger to play in any spot in the back row in Australia and did untold good work in the pivotal final Test to lay the platform before being called ashore injured.

Jonathan Sexton

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… Just shy of his 32nd birthday but long returned from France having won everything (bar perhaps a World Cup and Premiership title) the game can offer him. His form will do Ian Madigan no favours. Another potential captain and a player the All Blacks will fear with Dan Carter having retired.

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Peter O’Mahony

In 2017 he’ll hopefully be… Munster’s 27 year-old captain and the steel in Ireland’s back row. Another who can do a job all across the back row and an intense character who won’t be caught flat-footed in tough matches down in Invercargill or Dunedin.

©Inpho/Billy Stickland

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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