With the announcement of the much speculated Lions squad to tour New Zealand this Summer, the debate as to what might transpire in June/July has kicked off in earnest.
Many of the picks were obvious, however, true to form, head coach Warren Gatland had a few surprises up his sleeves. The inclusion of Ross Moriarty has raised a number of eyebrows but is generally agreed to be merited on form. Naturally, English fans have been venting their frustration at the exclusion of captain Dylan Hartley and a number of other English 6 Nations stars.
As the full squad was announced, the rugby world had plenty to say and many saw the merit of Gatland’s selections.
— Lewis Moody (@LewisMoody7) April 19, 2017
— Rory Lawson (@rorylawson9) April 19, 2017
Big congrats to everybody on selection for the 2017 lions especially to this guy @RossMoriarty6
— Andy Powell (@andypowell8) April 19, 2017
Solid looking team that. Media really had big nibble on all the so called 'leaked Lions squads' 🎣
— Dominic Day (@DomDay5) April 19, 2017
Lions 2017 squad announced! "Good balance of pace, power & X factor" An exciting squad no doubt 🏉👍🏾what do we all think?
— ugo monye (@ugomonye) April 19, 2017
To be fair that's hell of a lions squad #NZ
— Jason Tovey (@jtov10) April 19, 2017
— Jonathan Davies OBE (@JiffyRugby) April 19, 2017
— James William Hook (@hookjameshook) April 19, 2017
Others meanwhile are looking for an explanation for some of the more glaring omissions and the surprise inclusions.
— Peter Scrivener (@peter_scrivener) April 19, 2017
12 Welsh players from the team that finished second bottom
— John Beattie (@BBCJohnBeattie) April 19, 2017
No Hartley is immediate headline from squad announcement #Lions2017
— Laura-Jane Jones (@MissLJJ) April 19, 2017
Scottish rugby fans have borrowed the 'But we beat Ireland, we're better than them' lament from football counterparts following Lions squad
— Neil O'Riordan (@noriordan) April 19, 2017
Meanwhile, pundits and players who’ve been debating the selection for weeks continue to make the case for their picks.
Exciting squad picked…love to see an aul bolter or two!!! Gutted for Earls & Ryan defo up there for me…could get there yet #LionsNZ2017
— Niamh Briggs (@niamhbriggs15) April 19, 2017
More were taking a whimsical approach to the news.
— Scott Spedding (@Scott_Spedding) April 19, 2017
But at the end of the day, ex-Lion Will Greenwood probably summed it up best last night.
— Will Greenwood (@WillGreenwood) April 18, 2017
Nevertheless, the All Blacks will be surely eyeing up their opponents now that their identities are known. The tour begins on Saturday, June 3rd with a game against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Toll Stadium, Whangarei.
The three test matches will be played on Saturdays June 24th, July 1st and July 8th. All matches on the tour have an 8.35am (GMT) kickoff. The Lions will be searching for only their second ever series win over New Zealand, only ever achieved once, back in 1971.
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