Former British and Irish Lions star Brian O’Driscoll has selected the side he thinks Warren Gatland will choose to face South Africa during next year’s series.
The four-time tourist has selected eight English players in his starting XV while he thinks only two Irish men will make the cut to face the world champions. The remainder of the team is comprised of three Welsh players and two representatives from Scotland.
O’Driscoll revealed his selection on Off The Ball earlier this week, selecting England duo Anthony Watson and Jonny May on the wings alongside Stuart Hogg at full-back, who he believes will narrowly beat out Liam Williams for the 15 jersey.
Meanwhile, the 2005 Lions captain has backed Jonathan Davies to continue his form which saw him crowned Player of the Series in 2017 and has handed him the 13 jersey with Manu Tuilagi joining him in midfield.
Tuilagi’s selection in O’Driscoll’s Lions team means England captain Owen Farrell is restored to the out-half position while the in-form Welsh scrum-half Tomos Williams is named alongside him.
O’Driscoll selected his first Irish player in the front-row with Tadhg Furlong named at tighthead while he believes Rory Sutherland will earn his first Lions cap at loosehead with the experienced Jamie George in between.
The Ireland legend has mixed things up in the forwards, selecting James Ryan to feature alongside Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row which leaves Maro Itoje switching to the blindside flanker position with England duo Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola complete the team.
O’Driscoll explained that his decision to move Itoje was based on size.
“The back row aside from Billy is very difficult. I’m going to go from a size aspect and it makes another decision easier. I’m going to go with Maro Itoje at six. That size will matter, particularly against South Africa who we have seen decimate teams physically.
“You look at Pieter-Steph du Toit playing at six, you have got to match him. Itoje is someone who is capable of doing that.”
Despite the fact that Alun Wyn Jones will be 35 by the time next year’s tour rolls around, O’Driscoll believes his appetite for the game will see him deliver when needed.
“I questioned whether Alun Wyn Jones would still be capable of delivering in a year’s time. But I just know the warrior that is in him and the animal that he is.
“I know the appetite he has for work, so I fancy he’ll still be able to piece himself together for one last hurrah.”
Brian O’Driscoll’s Lions XV:
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Anthony Watson (England)
13. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
12. Manu Tuilagi (England)
11. Jonny May (England)
10. Owen Farrell (England)
9. Tomos Williams (Wales)
1. Rory Sutherland (Scotland)
2. Jamie George (England)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. James Ryan (Ireland)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
6. Maro Itoje (England)
7. Sam Underhill (England)
8. Billy Vunipola (England)