We can add yet another name to the list of English internationals whom The Telegraph’s sources are suggesting will miss out on selection for the British & Irish Lions’ tour of New Zealand this summer.
Yesterday, the British media outlet reported that Chris Robshaw, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, James Haskell, Mike Brown and Joe Launchbury are all set to be omitted from Warren Gatland’s squad. Now they are reporting that England captain Dylan Hartley will also be excluded from the group, which is looking likely to be 40-strong.
Despite leading the ‘Red Rose’ to two successive Six Nations crowns, including a Grandslam last year, Hartley looks set to lose out to 30-year-old Wales and Scarlets hooker Ken Owens. According to the report, the decision was made at the close of a three-hour selection meeting today.
Interestingly, England’s backup hooker, Saracens standout Jame George is expected to be selected, as is Ireland captain Rory Best.
This latest report also concurs with an earlier one from Sky Sports, which suggested that Welsh centre Jamie Roberts, who toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009 and Australia in 2013, will be a rather surprising inclusion to the squad.
The Telegraph is also projecting a call-up for Ireland and Munster winger Keith Earls, who thrice crossed the whitewash during the 2017 Six Nations, although that was not stated with real confidence.
The full squad will be revealed tomorrow, Wednesday April 19th, at 12 noon.
The 2017 tour will commence on June 3rd, when the Lions play the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians at Toll Stadium, Whangarei. From there it will be on to a series of games with top Super Rugby sides, Blues, Crusaders and Highlanders. A match against Maori All Blacks will take place on the 17th of June, before the Lions will once again face Super Rugby opposition in the Chiefs. The 24th of June will see the tourists face the All Blacks in the first of three tests. Only a game against the Hurricanes will provide respite, before the final two tests on the 1st and 8th of July.