Former Ireland international Alan Quinlan has backed Jonny Hill to start for the British and Irish Lions against the Springboks this July.
England and Exeter Chiefs lock Hill was something of a surprise inclusion in Warren Gatland’s 37-man Lions squad, as he was selected ahead of the likes of Ireland’s James Ryan and Scotland’s Jonny Gray.
Hill is quite inexperienced at international level having won just nine caps for his country to date, but Quinlan told Off The Ball that he has plenty of faith in the Englishman’s ability.
Can we all take a moment to appreciate what Jonny Hill has achieved in under a year…@ChampionsCup winner 🏆@premrugby winner 🏆
England debut 🌹@SixNationsRugby winner 🏆@autumnnations winner 🏆@lionsofficial selection 🦁 pic.twitter.com/jd25Fuxzja
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) May 7, 2021
“I am picking Jonny Hill in the second row because I think he is a great player. Some of the English players have been judged harshly,” Quinlan commented.
“They were poor in the Six Nations, but there is mitigation around that with a lot of Saracens players not having played matches.”
Elliot Daly backed to start at 13.
The former Munster flanker has also gone with Elliot Daly at outside centre, who was arguably another surprise inclusion in Gatland’s squad.
Daly struggled to find form in this year’s Six Nations, and was benched by head coach Eddie Jones for England’s game against France.
The Saracens man has primarily played at fullback for England in recent years, but has also played on both the wing and at outside-centre for both club and country throughout his career.
While Quinlan acknowledged that Daly hasn’t been in great form in recent times, the Munster man believes he deserves to start based on his speed and versatility.
“You could argue that this isn’t a form selection with Elliot Daly at 13. He also plays fullback and wing; he is very versatile,” Quinlan said.
“I just think the pace he gives you at outside centre offers you a real attacking threat. He is a brilliant footballer, he is physical as well, and he has been on a Lions tour before.”
Check out Alan Quinlan’s British and Irish Lions starting XV below.
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
13. Elliot Daly (England)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
11. Duhan Van Der Merwe (Scotland)
10. Owen Farrell (England)
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
7. Tom Curry (England)
6. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
5. Jonny Hill (England)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
2. Ken Owens (Wales)
1. Mako Vunipola (England)