Tom Croft believes Sam Simmonds is well-deserving of a place in this summer’s British and Lions squad based on his performances for Exeter Chiefs.
Simmonds is the top try-scorer in this season’s Gallagher Premiership with a total tally of 14, six more than the closest challenger, but wasn’t selected by in Eddie Jones’ England squad for the Six Nations.
In fact, Simmonds hasn’t played for England since 2018, but former Lion Croft told the Daily Mail that he believes he would be the “perfect” number eight for head coach Gatland on the tour of South Africa.
Check out the wheels on @samsimmonds_ 😱
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) April 23, 2021
“Sam Simmonds is the perfect person to go on this tour. He is the undisputed in-form number eight in the Premiership,” Croft argued.
“He’s not got much international experience so that means there’s not much pressure on him — he can go out and just do his thing. I’d love to see him out there.”
‘Gatland loves to stir the pot a little bit!’
Gatland has reportedly included Simmonds in his long list of players who could be announced in tomorrow’s Lions squad, along with three other English players who did not feature in the Six Nations.
Croft, who played under Gatland in the 2013 tour to Australia, believes it would be well within the Kiwi coach’s character to select a player who is currently being overlooked by their national team.
“You could see Gatland selecting Simmonds potentially to prove a point — he loves to stir the pot a little bit!” Croft said.
“I think if Gatland chooses Simmonds, he will go well out there. I can see him going on the tour and proving to himself that he is international class, but also showing the world and Eddie Jones too.
“This could be the springboard that helps him win a place in the England squad.”
Gatland will announce his Lions squad on Thursday at roughly 12:30, as well as his captain for the tour to South Africa.