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The Lions Outcast XV

With Warren Gatland today naming his Lions squad to tour New Zealand this summer, there were of course many, many big name players who have not made the cut.

We put together a XV made up of those players who missed out on selection this time around.

1) Rob Evans

There is a tremendous amount of talent in the Lions squad at prop, but there was a case for Wales loosehead Evans to make it in ahead of one of England’s Joe Marler of Mako Vunipola.

2) Dylan Hartley

A wonderful record as England captain since taking over the role in 2016 was not enough to see the hooker make it on to the plane. His disciplinary issues have always dogged him, but no one can question his superb leadership skills.

3) Zander Fagerson

One of Scotland’s brightest prospects and one of the best young tightheads in the game, but tighthead is a position of strength for the Lions.

4) Joe Launchbury

A shocking omission from the Lions squad: one of the players of the Six Nations and eternally consistent, Launchbury has perhaps lost out for being a good all-rounder rather than excelling in one area. Gatland’s Lions is Eddie Jones’ gain.

5) Jonny Gray

Like Launchbury, Gray is a fantastically consistent player, but he suffers  with Gatland able to choose from an embarassment of riches in the second row.

6) Chris Robshaw

The Harlequins flanker has been a revelation for his country since Eddie Jones took over the team, but his injury that ruled him out of the Six Nations has cost him a spot.

7) Hamish Watson

An out-and-out openside and just the sort of player that could have excelled at the breakdown in the pressure cooker that is New Zealand.

8) Jamie Heaslip

One of the most experienced heads in the northern hemisphere, Heaslip has lost out to power in Vunipola, reputation in Faletau and promise in Moriarty.

9) Greig Laidlaw

Like Robshaw, an ill-timed injury cut short Laidlaw’s Six Nations campaign and gave him less of a chance to prove himself against his nearest rivals.

10) George Ford

At the heart of everything good about England’s attack for several seasons, questions over Ford’s defence may have cost him a spot on the plane.

11) Keith Earls

The kind of player that can create something from nothing and ultimately a very intelligent player, but he faced fierce competition.

12) Alex Dunbar

In the very centre of Scotland’s recent revival was Dunbar, but centre is another position where the Lions coaches were spoilt for choice.

13) Garry Ringrose

Could he have had the same impact in 2017 as another young Irish centre did back in 2001? A tremendous rugby mind on such young shoulders.

14) Jonny May

Out-and-out pace is so important in attack, but it was not enough to get May into the squad.

15) Mike Brown

A rock at the back for his country for his entire international career, but Gatland has opted for attacking exuberance in Stuart Hogg and a man he trusts in Leigh Halfpenny.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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About Paul Wassell

Paul Wassell
Paul is an English teacher by day and an avid rugby fan the rest of the time. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, or contact him at [email protected]

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