Warren Gatland has included nine Ireland players in his British and Irish Lions starting team based on 2022.
Gatland took charge of the Lions for the third time on last year’s tour of South Africa, and has had another go at selecting a match-day squad a year on from the test series against the Springboks.
The New Zealander has come up with a drastically different selection than the one he went with last year, with nine Irish players selected in his starting team, compared to the three who started in the first test against the Springboks.
Three-times Lions head coach Gatland selected his hypothetical match-day squad in The Telegraph and included Johnny Sexton at out-half, while questioning if he made the right decision in leaving the Ireland captain out of last year’s squad.
Johnny Sexton selected to start at out-half.
“Quite simply he has earned the right to be there, even at the age of 37. I think Marcus Smith is something special but if I want to win a game next week, Johnny has to start,” Gatland wrote.
“You can’t take away from the impact he has had over the last year. In South Africa I was concerned about his injury record and whether he could get through the tour, and I still probably ask myself now whether it was the right decision to leave him at home.”
In total, Gatland has selected 10 players in his match-day 23 who weren’t included in his Lions squad last year, while Andrew Porter has also made the cut, having pulled out of the tour due to injury.
Gatland has taken current injuries into account, with Ireland’s Ronan Kelleher and Wales’ Ken Owens omitted due to their unavailability for their respective countries’ summer tours.
🙌🏽 @JohnnySexton https://t.co/Au3Ip4vSOG
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 16, 2022
Warren Gatland’s 2022 British and Irish Lions match-day squad.
15. Freddie Steward (England)
14. Josh Adams (Wales)
13. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
12. Owen Farrell (England)
11. James Lowe (Ireland)
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland)
8. Caelan Doris (Ireland)
7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
6. Courtney Lawes (England)
5. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
4. James Ryan (Ireland)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
2. Jamie George (England)
1. Ellis Genge (England)
16. Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
17. Andrew Porter (Ireland)
18. Zander Fagerson (Scotland)
19. Maro Itoje (England)
20. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
21. Ali Price (Scotland)
22. Marcus Smith (England)
23. Jack Nowell (England)
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