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A combined British and Irish Lions and Springboks starting XV

Ahead of next month’s British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, we’ve decided to select a starting 15 made up of players from both squads.

Both the Lions and the Springboks squads have been named ahead of the test series, with both teams boasting plenty of world class talent.

While we will soon find out which side is better, we’ve decided to select which players we believe deserve a place in a combined team from the two squads.

Front row.

Steven Kitshoff (SA), Bongi Mbonambi (SA) and Tadhg Furlong (Lions).

The front row has historically been a position of great strength for South Africa, and that still holds true today for the current crop of Springboks.

Kitshoff was behind Tendai Mtawarira in the Springboks’ pecking order the last time they played at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but the Stormers man has been world class for years now.

Mbonambi showed his talents in the World Cup just by starting ahead of the much-heralded Malcolm Marx, and has just about edged out the likes of Ken Owens and Luke Cowan-Dickie here.

Furlong has been long regarded as one of the best props in the world, although South Africa’s Frans Malherbe isn’t far behind him.


Second row.

Maro Itoje (Lions) and Eben Etzebeth (SA).

Both sides have numerous quality locks at their disposal, in what is perhaps the most competitive position in the team.

While Itoje didn’t have the greatest Six Nations, class is permanent and the Saracens player is arguably the most athletic lock in the world.

Etzebeth has been one of the best second row forwards in the world for almost a decade now, and is the ideal Springbok forward with ample amounts of size, aggression and power.

Back row.

Tadhg Beirne (Lions), Pieter-Steph du Toit (SA) and Duane Vermeulen (SA).

The South Africans have again earned two out of three selections in the back row, in an area that was crucial to their World Cup success in Japan.

Ireland forward Beirne is well deserving of a place on the team, after a Six Nations in which he was in the reckoning for man of the match in all five games he played in the championship.

Du Toit is recognised as one of the best in the business, having been named as World Rugby’s player of the year in 2019, and has played very well in recent weeks considering he has only returned from a long-term injury.

Vermeulen is facing a race against time to be fit for the series after injuring his ankle earlier this month, but if he does recover in time he will be a massive asset to the Springboks.


Faf de Klerk (SA) and Dan Biggar (Lions).

De Klerk was absolutely crucial to the Springboks’ revival under Rassie Erasmus, adding an element of unpredictability to South Africa’s trademark power.

The selection of fly-half was more difficult, but Wales’ Biggar hasn’t put a foot wrong for club and country over the past year and is currently in the form of his career.

South Africa’s Handre Pollard has shown that he is world class in the past, but he has had very little rugby in recent times with Montpellier due to a serious knee injury.


Robbie Henshaw (Lions) and Lukhanyo Am (SA).

Ireland’s Henshaw must be a serious contender for the World Rugby player of the year award based on his performances so far, after a fantastic season for both club and country.

Damien de Allende has been a stand out performer for Munster in recent months, and was excellent in his country’s World Cup triumph, but there are very few who can claim to challenge Henshaw’s form.

At outside centre Am is a reliable selection who rarely lets his side down, and is remarkably calm under pressure.


Back three.

Louis Rees-Zammit (Lions), Cheslin Kolbe (SA) and Stuart Hogg (Lions).

The Lions’ outside backs will be a major weapon for them in South Africa, as the tourists have plenty of pace and attacking guile to cut the opposition apart out wide.

Wales youngster Rees-Zammit is lacking experience, but showed in his maiden Six Nations that some of the best defensive lineups in the world were unable to deal with him.

Springbok stepper Kolbe is truly unmatched worldwide when it comes to beating defenders, and has showed his class in recent times for Toulouse in the Top 14 and Heineken Champions Cup.

Scotland captain Hogg is destined to win his first Lions test cap on his third tour, and is a well-rounded player who will bring plenty of experience to his side.

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