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.
Welcome back, Skipper 💪
1997, 2001 - Martin Johnson
2005 - Brian O'Driscoll
2009 - Paul O'Connell
2013, 2017 - Sam Warburton
2021 - Alun Wyn Jones (C)#LionsRugby pic.twitter.com/7cdzEZzP7g
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) May 6, 2021
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.”
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
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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