Warren Gatland revealed his British and Irish Lions squad for the forthcoming tour of New Zealand on Wednesday and despite extending his squad from 37 to 41 players, there were still those who narrowly missed out.
Despite being mooted earlier in the week, the revelation that England’s Joe Launchbury was not among the 41 names called out, has caused many fans to cry foul.
Gatland has decided to leave Launchbury at home in favour of Alun Wyn Jones, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, George Kruis and Iain Henderson as his second row options.
Following a massively impressive Six Nations performance, Launchbury was thought to be a shoo-in for selection this week and now that fans know he has been overlooked, they have taken to social media to voice their anger, with Ireland’s Iain Henderson, and to a lesser degree Alun Wyn Jones, being singled out as the player least worthy of what they feel is Launchbury’s spot in the squad.
Errrr well Healsip and Launchbury have played extraordinary, hmm.. Fuck it we will put Henderson and Moriaty into the team. Wanker
— Albie Thurkle (@AlbieThurkle) April 19, 2017
— Edward James (@edwardjames98) April 19, 2017
It's horrible that we have to live in a world where Ian Henderson gets picked ahead of Joe Launchbury for the Lions tour
— Ollie Brown (@brown_brownies) April 19, 2017
@jimimacflex Henderson going over launchbury or either gray is not right
— Song For Murrayfield (@murrayfieldsong) April 19, 2017
@mattjboyce We can only hope that Henderson, Biggar, Warburton and Toby get injured b4. Allowing for Heaslip, King James, Ford and Launchbury to fly.
— Tom Fiander (@tomfiander) April 19, 2017
@Hughesy_Jonny Although one of the locks will get injured I still think Launchbury is better than Henderson
— Richard Thomas (@thommo2210) April 19, 2017
— John Duncan (@livvyjohn) April 19, 2017
Ian Henderson ahead of Joe Launchbury smh👀 Guess he couldn't have 4 English locks in the squad
— Amamenemene (@TawandaMVUSI) April 19, 2017
@Sub3_b4_40 Moriarty's a good player. Henderson for Launchbury currently most boggling my mind.
— Martin Pengelly (@MartinPengelly) April 19, 2017
Henderson over launchbury is shit and leaving out ford just as bad
— aaron toner (@toner_aaron) April 19, 2017
Strong #LionsNZ2017 squad but Wyn Jones and Henderson over Launchbury is a joke
— Josh Leggett (@josh_leggett) April 19, 2017
— Ross Smith (@rsross_smith) April 19, 2017
— Pablo (@_infinitejest) April 19, 2017
This fan see things differently however.
Joe Launchbury wears 'Iain Henderson' pyjamas #LionsNZ2017
— Samuel Harper (@sjharps) April 19, 2017
The Lions boss has not yet given any details on why he chose to leave the Englishman behind but looking at the squad, it could easily be suggested that versatility to play more than one position has been taken into consideration by the Lions coaching staff.
Henderson, Itoje and Kruis can readily slot into the flanks of the scrum, thus giving Gatland increased options during the arduous ten match tour.
In spite of this, it is certainly easy to understand the frustrations of the England fans, though perhaps not so much their focus on Henderson’s inclusion.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena