Irish players regularly benefit from late Lions call-ups

Eight players have gotten the call after the original squad was named, this century

BY Daniel Kelly 13:25 Tuesday 18 April 2017, 13:25 18 Apr 2017

David Wallace and Simon Zebo. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

On Wednesday afternoon, the talking will conclude and the British and Irish Lions squad travelling to New Zealand will finally be named.

John Spencer, the Tour Manager will name Warren Gatland's squad on front of the World's media in London. It is expected that 37 or 38 players will be named to travel to face the back-to-back World Champions.

There will be numerous surprise inclusions, while certain omissions are sure to be widely spoken about. The first match of the tour will take place on June 3rd, and with over six weeks to go until that match, it's almost certain that players not named in the original squad will be called up in the coming weeks.

Since the 2001 tour to Australia, eight Irish players have put on the famous red jersey, despite not being named in the original squad. From Tom Court to Tyrone Howe, and everyone else in between, we look at how those eight players fared.

Tom Court (2013)

One of the more surprising names in the history of Lions folklore, the Australian-born prop was on holidays in Brisbane when he was called into Warren Gatland's squad.

The Ireland international played one match on the tour, coming off the bench in the final midweek clash against Melbourne Rebels. 

Rory Best and Tom Court. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Simon Zebo (2013)

The Munster winger was called into the Lions squad, as a precaution, following Tommy Bowe's broken hand, and thrived in the environment.

Zebo played in three matches on tour against the NSW Waratahs, ACT Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels but never broke into the Test squad. 

Rory Best (2013)

One of the biggest omissions from the original squad in 2013, Best was called up following Dylan Hartley's sending off in the Premiership Final. Best joined the team in Hong Kong, and travelled on with the squad to Australia.

The Ulster hooker played four games on tour, and captained the team in a midweek match against the Brumbies. It was the only match the side lost on tour to a provincial side.

John Hayes (2009)

Despite being part of the tour in 2005, John Hayes was not originally selected for the 2009 squad. An injury to Scotland's Euan Murray earned 'The Bull' a call-up, and an unexpected break from farming.

He played in two matches in South Africa, including an appearance of the bench in the Third Test victory over the Springboks.

Warren Gatland shows John Hayes some scrummaging techniques. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Gordon D'Arcy (2009)

Like Hayes, D'Arcy was part of the 2005 squad, but failed to make the original cut four years later. A number of short-term injuries to the backline earned the Leinster centre a call-up.

Three appearances on the tour failed to include any Test caps. He featured against the Free State Cheetahs, Southern Kings and Emerging Springboks. 

Simon Easterby (2005)

The flanker was the only Irish call-up on the ill-fated tour of 2005. A replacement for Lawrence Dallaglio, the Scarlets flanker impressed in New Zealand.

Easterby played in five matches, including the Second and Third Tests. He was also a try scorer on his test debut.

David Wallace (2001)

Wallace would feature on two Lions tours, but his first experience in the red jersey came as a late call-up in 2001. Like Easterby, four years later, the Munster flanker would be called up in place of Dallaglio.

He played two matches on the tour, and scored a try against the ACT Brumbies. 

Tyrone Howe (2001)

Bowe was called up in place of Dan Luger, as he returned home from a holiday in America. After arriving in Heathrow, he left for Australia the same day.

A single appearance was the Ulster winger's reward. He played in the win over NSW Country Districts.

Tyrone Howe. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Opportunities will come for Irish players in the coming weeks. It may happen before the team travels to New Zealand, or the call could come when on Irish duty in either the United States or Japan. Either way, the players who feel they may be called up will have to be ready.


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