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Sam Warburton names twice-capped Wales star in his Lions XV


Sam Warburton has names international newcomer Johnny Williams in his British and Irish Lions test starting 15.

The former Wales and Lions captain named three Welsh players, two Irish players and 10 English players in his team, with no Scots making the cut.

Inside centre Williams is the most eye-raising selection the former flanker made, with his two performances for his country so far seriously impressing Warburton.

“My bolter is Wales’s Johnny Williams at inside centre. He impressed me with his physicality and all-round game in the autumn and if he can build on that in the Six Nations then he has a real chance.

“Toby Flood recently told me how good he thought Williams was when they played together at Newcastle Falcons. His potential is huge,” Warburton wrote in The Times.

The former Lion also acknowledged that omitting Scotland captain Stuart Hogg from his team was a big call, but believes two Welshman are currently ahead of Hogg in the pecking order.

“One of the hardest selections was at full back, where the choice came down to Liam Williams or Leigh Halfpenny.I know that will enrage supporters of Stuart Hogg but I am thinking about how to counter South Africa.

“They will kick a lot and Liam Williams is so good in the air, and he got the balance of running and kicking dead right in New Zealand on the last tour.

“There is also the subject of a back-up goalkicker to Owen Farrell and that is where Halfpenny, who has been in good form this season, might come in,” Warburton wrote.

Sam Warburton’s Lions test starting XV

15. Liam Williams (Wales)

14. Anthony Watson (England)

13. Henry Slade (England)

12. Johnny Williams (Wales)

11. Jonny May (England)

10. Owen Farrell (England)

9. Ben Youngs (England)

8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

7. Tom Curry (England)

6. Sam Underhill (England)

5. James Ryan (Ireland)

4. Maro Itoje (England)

3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

2. Jamie George (England)

1. Mako Vunipola (England)

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