Johnny Sexton looks set to be the Lions’ first choice fly-half this summer, but there’s one persistent worry surrounding the Leinster playmaker: injury.
If Sexton is to be fit for all three Tests against the All Blacks then Gatland will need to be very careful in what games Sexton can play before the first meeting at Eden Park.
Prior to the first Test the Lions face six challenging games in three weeks and you can bet good money that Sexton will only start one of those matches in order to keep him fresh for the Test series.
Selection could be key. Owen Farrell looks set to travel, and after his exploits for England at 12 he could well be nailed on to start there so we may have to look elsewhere for another fly-half to help share the load with the Ireland talisman.
Dan Biggar’s name has been mentioned a lot and it looks as though Finn Russell could be out of the running after his poor showing for Glasgow in their Champions Cup quarter-final with Saracens.
Looking beyond that there are two men that could well find themselves on the tour by luck: Paddy Jackson and George Ford. Both of whom are supremely talented players in their own right.
Ford’s form has been lacking recently, with the exception of a superb performance against Leicester for Bath.
As for Jackson, a revelation in the Six Nations, he opened the championship at fly-half for Ireland and put in some impressive performances. Jackson could be favoured, as who better to replace his countryman than the very man that has done it before?
Sexton is the undisputed starting fly-half for the Tests but his injury-prone body is unlikely to be able to take Pro12 play-offs followed by at least three games before the first Test.
Potential Test Backline:
9. Connor Murray
10. Jonny Sexton
11. George North
12. Owen Farrell
13. Jonathan Joseph
14. Anthony Watson
15. Stuart Hogg
Fred Blagden, Pundit Arena