The Final Cut – Who Made It and Who Didn’t
Well folks, the wait is over we now know our squad. Larger than I predicted of 41 rather than 37 but nonetheless in the main a good squad. Below is the list of backs and forwards that were selected by Warren Gatland and his coaching staff:
Props: Joe Marler (ENG), Mako Vunipola (ENG), Jack McGrath (IRE), Tadgh Furlong (IRE), Kyle Sinclair (ENG) and Dan Cole (ENG).
Hookers: Ken Owens (WAL), Jamie George (ENG) and Rory Best (IRE).
Second-rows: Maro Itoje (ENG), George Kruis (ENG), Courtney Lawes (ENG), Alan Wyn-Jones (WAL) and Ian Henderson (IRE).
Flankers: Sean O’Brien (IRE), Peter O’Mahony (IRE), Ross Moriarty (WAL), Sam Warburton (Captain) (WAL), Justin Tipuric (WAL) and CJ Stander (IRE).
No.8: Billy Vunipola (ENG) and Talupe Faletau (WAL)
Scrum-halves: Connor Murray (IRE), Rhys Webb (WAL) and Ben Youngs (ENG)
Fly-halves: Johnathon Sexton (IRE) Owen Farrell (ENG) Dan Biggar (WAL)
Centres: Johnathon Davies (WAL), Johnathon Joseph (ENG), Ben T’eo (ENG), Elliot Daly (ENG), Jarred Payne (IRE) and Robbie Henshaw (IRE).
Back Three: Stuart Hogg (SCO), Leighhalfpenny (WAL), George North (WAL), Jack Nowell (ENG), Anthony Watson (ENG), Liam Williams (WAL) and Tommy
England: 15 (36%)
Ireland: 11 (27%)
Scotland: 2 (4%)
Wales: 13 (33%)
No Scottish Forwards – for the first time in a long while, no forwards from Scotland have made the squad. Nathan Hines and Ritchie Gray have provided a second row option in previous tours. However, only two players have made it for Scotland in Hogg and Seymour
Jarred Payne – given the number in the squad and the amount of game time he has had, Payne is one of the more suprising stories from this lunchtime. He also has the versatility at full back but in my opinion it will be very hard to get into the starting line up.
Kruis over Launchbury – Kruis of course can form a second-row combination with Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes, having worked with them for England. However, as Launchbury was one of the stand-out players in the 6 Nations; he can count himself very unlucky. However, given how long the tour is, injuries could happen to a second-row on the tour, Launchbury surely should be the first one to be called up onto the touring party.
Dan Biggar over Finn Russell – Brian O’Driscoll described Biggar as a physical 10 and with the experience going down to New Zealand last summer. Given Finn Russell’s form during the 6 Nations and his extensive play, it makes him a great 10. If an injury happens to any of the three selected fly-halves, I think that Russell has to be sent down as a replacement.
Ross Moriarty – on the account of the amount of back row players in this squad, Warren Gatland probably sees him as an option for no.6. However, like Payne, Moriarty will find it hard to get into the match day squad.
English contingent – Mike Brown, James Haskell, George Ford and Dylan Hartley out, Ben T’eo in. Haskell has been extremely unlucky given his form, especially against Australia last summer. Mike Brown for me was
not quite up there with the options at full back. George Ford, like Finn Russell can count himself unlucky but one suspects that his slender figure was a factor not selecting him. Dylan Hartley not included was almost expected; with Sam Warburton named as captain and given he’s not been on form for England, he has not been included on this tour. Ben T’eo is another surprise centre inclusion and again I’m not sure whether he will get a place in the starting XV..
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