Shane Byrne on the Ireland players unlucky to miss out on Lions squad
Former Ireland, Leinster and Lions player was speaking to Newstalk Drive19:00 Wednesday 19 April 2017, 19:00 19 Apr 2017
Former Ireland and Leinster rugby international Shane Byrne has picked out some of the names he feels were unfortunate to miss the cut for the 2017 British and Irish Lions squad.
The 2017 squad named by head coach Warren Gatland has 11 Irish representatives with five from Leinster and three each from Munster and Ulster.
Speaking to Chris Donoghue on Newstalk Drive, the former Leinster and Saracens hooker felt a few players were unfortunate to miss out on the 41 man selection.
"Of the guys left out, I think Zebo's very unfortunate [and] Earls - either one could have got onto that plane through the talent and the ability that they've shown in the last while. Donnacha Ryan obviously is a guy who I think is in an absolute purple patch in his career at the moment and then the guys who have been there before like Cian Healy and [Jamie] Heaslip," said Byrne.
"Cian Healy has been showing the form since coming back. Every time he's been getting onto the pitch, he's getting better and better and Jamie Heaslip, again, the injury just came at the wrong time.
"But again there is such unbelievable competition, particularly in that back row."
He also backed the selection of Wales flanker and 2013 skipper Sam Warburton as 2017 Lions captain, describing it as a "great choice" and "perfect guy" for the tour to New Zealand, and explained that Jared Payne's defensive prowess was a key factor in the call up for the Ulster and Ireland back.
Wicklow native Byrne was part of the Lions tour himself in 2005 and spoke of the honour he felt at being selected back then on the last tour to New Zealand.
"It's almost undescribable. It's absolutely fantastic. Anybody who says they haven't been thinking about it up until this point is lying because it has been on your mind and if you've been anywhere near the Irish team, you know you're in with a shout. And to finally get that call is just cloud nine stuff," he said.