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British & Irish Lions

Gatland names 37 man British & Irish Lions Squad

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The British & Irish Lions Head Coach, Warren Gatland, has today named a 37-man squad to tour South Africa for the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series.

Gatland has also named Alun Wyn Jones as captain for the Tour.

Several players are named in a Lions squad for a first time, including Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Chris Harris, Ali Price, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Zander Fagerson, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill, Wyn Jones, Andrew Porter, Sam Simmonds, Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson.

“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 performance 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, Wales) Wing

Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) Centre

Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) Fly-half

Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) Centre

Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) Scrum-half

Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) Fly-half

Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) Centre

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Centre

Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) Full-back

Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) Scrum-half

Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) Scrum-half

Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) Wing

Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) Fly-half

Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Wing

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) Wing

Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) Full-back

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

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Prop

Jamie George (Saracens, England) Hooker

Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) Second row

Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) Second row

Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) Second row

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) (Captain) Second row

Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) Prop

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) Second row

Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) Hooker

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

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) Prop

Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Back row

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British & Irish Lions

Lions name team to play Japan

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Photo by Dan Sheridan - Pool/Getty Images

British & Irish Lions head coach, Warren Gatland, has named his side to take on Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June (kick off 3pm) for The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup.

16,500 supporters will be welcomed to Scottish Rugby’s national stadium in Edinburgh for the first-ever clash between the Lions and the Brave Blossoms.

The game against the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists will be shown live and exclusively on Channel 4 and raises the curtain for the Lions’ eagerly awaited Tour to South Africa, which culminates in a three Test series against Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks.

“We’re anticipating a tough game against Japan – a side that like to play at a high-tempo and shift the ball,” said Gatland.

“We saw throughout the World Cup they have attacking threats across the park and a solid defence and set piece.

“I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made during our training camp in Jersey so far, but we’ve a long way to go. You can see that the squad are starting to get to grips with our game strategies, but, as always with a Lions Tour, this takes time to bed in.

“We’re in a good place though and I can tell there’s a lot more to come from this group.

“Everyone in the squad will get a start before the start of the Test Series, so each member of the squad can put their hand up for Test selection.

“We are absolutely delighted to be playing in front of sixteen thousand supporters in Edinburgh. I’m sure the crowd will give the players an enormous lift before we depart for South Africa on Sunday.”

The Lions’ eight-game Tour to South Africa kicks off on Saturday 3 July when they play the Emirates Lions at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. Three weeks later, Cape Town Stadium will host the opening Test match of the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997. The British and Irish tourists then return to Gauteng and play the second and third Tests at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday 31 July and 8 August respectively.

Starting XV

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales)
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
1. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) #808
5. Alun Wyn Jones – Captain (Ospreys, Wales) #761
6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland)
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)
8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)

Replacements:

  1. Jamie George (Saracens, England) #819
  2. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales)
  3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
  4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826
  5. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779
  6. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
  7. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780
  8. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816

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British & Irish Lions

Henderson feeling at home already after quickly finding Lions groove

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

But even the Irish lock has been surprised by just how quickly the players who travelled to New Zealand have found their groove again, making four years seem like a matter of days.

Henderson did not make an appearance in the Test team against the All Blacks but wore the famous red jersey on six occasions as he became a regular in the midweek side.

He will be looking to earn his first Test cap against Japan on Saturday and ahead of the much-anticipated fixture, Lion #808 believes the players have benefitted from a smoother build-up.

“I think everyone’s excitement was already building towards the end of the season and you could tell everyone was buzzing to meet up,” the 29-year-old said.

“The training over the last week didn’t disappoint, a lot of lads were chomping at the bit to get out there on the pitch. It was very tough but we got a lot out of it.

“The guys who were there (in New Zealand) four years ago have ‘re-gelled’ really quickly. We have a few different coaches now, but it is very similar.

“At this point on the last Tour, we would be coming together for two or three days, splitting up then coming back together. So it was quite disjointed and didn’t really feel like the Tour had started.

Player Profile: Iain Henderson

“Whereas this time around, on Sunday there was already a definite feel the Tour had started and the journey had begun. Last time 15 were there at the start, but it is around the mid-20s this time.

“A huge majority of the squad have been able to get on-board already, so it’ll be tough for the guys just coming in, but I have no doubt they will catch up quickly.

“I think having everyone here and spending time together, going for dinner, a few pints and getting to know each other is vital to making things click on-and-off the field, which is key to any Lions Tour.”

The Lions face the Brave Blossoms this Saturday, June 26, at BT Murrayfield in front of a crowd of 16,500 fans, in what will be a first home fixture for the team since 2005.

Their first game on South African soil is just seven days later, against Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.

Although the success of the class of 2021 won’t be defined in the game against Japan, Henderson insists the squad won’t underestimate the side, who beat both Ireland and Scotland at the last World Cup.

Henderson added: “Everyone is dying to get underway, but at this stage I think everyone is also aligned in their goals, we’re not fighting for the jersey at the minute, we’re working well together.

“For this first game, we know Japan are a huge threat. They have a different style to South Africa, but the level of intensity will be high and it will be a massive test for us.

Furlong: We’re not the finished article yet but it’s an open process

“If we forget about them we’ll find ourselves in a difficult place.”

The Ulster captain is more mature than during the last Tour. He skippered his country for the first time and impressed generally during the Six Nations, a campaign the Irish finished well, with wins over England, Scotland and Italy.

He also won his clubs’ Personality of the Year award, a sign of the positive influence he will have on the Lions group.

High spirits and positive attitudes in the camp will be more important than ever, with the absence of the usual hordes of travelling fans.

Yet Henderson doesn’t think it will affect the mentality of the team when the first Test rolls around.

“Most of us haven’t heard a crowd cheer for well over a year now. So we’re really looking forward to having fans in BT Murrayfield. It will be phenomenal,” the adaptable Irishman added.

“In South Africa it will be different, there is uncertainty about numbers allowed in, if any.

“So this Lions Tour will be different, but the guys who have played in Six Nations and with clubs this season, are well used to dealing with adverse conditions.

“I would hope that anyone who may be affected by this can put it behind them and bring their best rugby on the pitch. We’ve all played with no crowds and the weird atmosphere that brings, so we’ll all be used to it.

“Being here on the last Tour (in New Zealand) makes you a little less nervous, and you slip back in with the guys from then pretty quickly.

“You also know what it is like for a new player, so you can make them feel as welcome and as comfortable as possible, which hopefully helps us on the pitch.”

Source – British & Irish Lions

by Jack Lacey-Hatton

21 June 2021 17:54 Reading Time: 4 mins

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British & Irish Lions

Lions Tour update: Kelleher to train with squad

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MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images

The British & Irish Lions have arrived in Jersey to kick off their 2021 Tour.

26 players have assembled in Jersey to begin preparations for The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup game versus Japan on Saturday 26 June (kick off, 3pm).

Ronan Kelleher (Leinster Rugby) will train with the squad this week, but has not been formally added to the 37-man touring squad.

“I’m delighted to welcome Ronan to train with the squad this week while we wait for Jamie George to complete his domestic season with Saracens next weekend,” said Lions head coach Warren Gatland.

Backs (12):

Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales)

Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland)

Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales)

Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland)

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)

Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland)

Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)

Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales)

Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England)

Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales)

Forwards (14):

Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland)

Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)

Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)

Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales)

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)

Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland)

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales)

Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales)

Ronan Kelleher (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England)

Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales)

Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales)

Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)

Source – British & Irish Lions

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