Former England captain Dylan Hartley has opted against starting Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones in his British and Irish Lions team.
Hartley has become the latest in a long line of rugby pundits naming who they would select for the first test against the Springboks if they were the head coach of the Lions this summer.
The Englishman selected a somewhat balanced Lions team on the RugbyPass Offload podcast in terms of each nations’ contingency, naming five Englishmen, four Welshmen, three Irishmen and three Scots.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 29, 2021
The decision to leave Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones is perhaps Hartley’s most controversial decision, with the former Northampton Saints hooker opting for Maro Itoje and Tadhg Beirne in the second row.
Hartley did say he would bring Jones on tour if he were head coach, explaining that he would have him on the bench as a like-for-like replacement for Itoje.
“Everyone’s wondering where Alun Wyn Jones is, and he’s the back-up to Mr. Maro Itoje,” Hartley explained.
“They’re both workhorses. They’re both annoyingly good workhorses. So if one of them gets injured or you want to bring a like-for-like on, they’re very similar grafting players.”
The ex-England international also picked George North at centre, who was unfortunately ruled out of this summer’s tour after rupturing his ACL during a Rainbow Cup match with the Ospreys.
Hartley has gone for South African-born Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe as one his wingers, after the 25-year-old burst onto the international stage just six months after his test debut against Georgia.
Check out the full starting XV below.
1. Mako Vunipola (England)
2. Luke-Cowan Dickie (England)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Maro Itoje (England)
5. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
6. Tom Curry (England)
7. Hamish Watson (Scotland)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
9. Gareth Davies (Wales)
10. Dan Biggar (Wales)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
13. George North (Wales)
14. Anthony Watson (England)
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)