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Sexton left out of British and Irish Lions squad for South Africa

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has been omitted from the British and Irish Lions panel to tour Sou...

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has been omitted from the British and Irish Lions panel to tour South Africa this summer.

Coach Warren Gatland has selected eight Irish players in total; Connacht's Bundee Aki, Ulster's Iain Henderson, Munster's Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne, and Leinster's Andrew Porter, Jack Conan, Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Furlong.

Sexton is currently on the sidelines after being stood down for six weeks following a blow to the head in Leinster's European Champions Cup quarter-final win over Exeter.

The news is a setback for 35-year-old Sexton, who played a key role in the tours against Australia in 2013 and then again in New Zealand four years later. There;s

Wales forward Alun Wyn Jones will captain the tourists against the world champions with Leinster's Robin McBryde part of Gatland's coaching team.

After a series of warm-up games beginning with a match against Japan at Murrayfield on June 26th, the Lions will meet the Springboks in the first test in Johannesburg on July 24th.

The second test takes place in Cape Town on July 31st, before the final match back in Johannesburg on August 7th.

Gatland takes charge of his third tour, having tasted success against Australia eight years ago before his players drew the series with New Zealand in 2017.

Results against the Springboks in recent times have been mixed. In 1997 a touring party including Keith Wood and Paul Wallace earned a famous 2-1 series win before the hosts prevailed by the same scoreline in 2009.

“We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa,” said Gatland.

“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position. We saw some outstanding performances in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.

“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the World Champions. We've left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.

“Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today.”

Backs (16):

Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) – Wing

Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) – Centre

Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) – Fly-half #821

Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) – Centre #822

Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) – Scrum-half

Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) – Fly-half #780

Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) – Centre

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Centre #824

Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) – Full-back #783

Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) – Scrum-half #790

Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – Scrum-half

Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) – Wing

Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) – Fly-half #835

Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Wing

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) – Wing #816

Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) – Full-back #833

Forwards (21):

Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) – Second row

Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Back row

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Hooker

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) – Back row

Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – Prop

Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) – Back row #779

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Prop #818

Jamie George (Saracens, England) – Hooker #819

Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) – Second row #808

Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Second row

Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) – Second row #825

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) (Captain) – Second row #761

Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) – Prop

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) – Second row #826

Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) – Hooker #829

Andrew Porter (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Prop

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Back row

Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Prop

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales) – Back row #786

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) – Prop #787

Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Back row

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