Rugby Union

Johnny Sexton left out of Lions squad as eight Irish players selected

 Bundee Aki has been named on the Lions squad
Digital Staff

Eight Irish men have secured a place on the Lions squad travelling to South Africa this summer, but Leinster and Ireland captain Johnny Sexton is not one of them. 

Among the most contentious decisions was for British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland to leave out experienced Irish fly-half Sexton, in favour of Scotland's Finn Russell, as well as England prop Kyle Sinckler.

Sexton finished the Six Nations strongly but has suffered ongoing concussion problems since.

From Ireland, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw have made the cut, and so too have Andrew Porter and Iain Henderson. More surprisingly, so to have Bundee Aki and Jack Conan.

Former Lion Brian O’Driscoll tweeted: “What do we make of it???! Huge for Conan & Bundee…”

Former Lion Luke Fitzgerald tweeted: “Some absolute baffling calls there.”

Some fans were not pleased either. @mickmuldoon posted: 'Gatland continues to raise 2 fingers to Ireland, some 20 years later. I bet that ladder had Irish steel in it,' referring to an accident where Gatland broke both of his leg after falling off a ladder in 2012.

@Dan23_92 tweeted: 'From an Irish point of view no Sexton or Ryan is a surprise and not something I agree with.' 

Alun Wyn Jones, the most capped player in the world with 157 appearances, has been named captain and will lead the Lions in South Africa on what promises to be a tour like no other as sport continues its emergence from the coronavirus pandemic.

He has played in nine consecutive Lions Tests and will be embarking on his fourth tour.

The 35-year-old Ospreys forward has captained the Lions before, skippering them to a third Test victory over Australia in Sydney eight years ago when tour leader Sam Warburton was injured, that clinched the series.

But now he has one of world rugby’s most coveted jobs from the outset, and his credentials are unquestioned.

Warren Gatland said: “To those players that have been selected, congratulations. I know it’s going to be challenging for a number of aspects. I just hope firstly that they thoroughly enjoy the tour and represent their four home nations the best they possibly can.”

On naming 37 players rather than the expected 36, Gatland said: “Particularly looking at our loose forwards, and the attrition, getting an extra number there is a bit of a back-up. We wanted to keep the numbers down but a 37-man squad was something we looked at yesterday.”

Josh Adams (Wales), Bundee Aki (Ireland), Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Gareth Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Chris Harris (Scotland), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Conor Murray (Ireland), Ali Price (Scotland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Finn Russell (Scotland), Duhan Van Der Merwe (Scotland), Anthony Watson (England), Liam Williams (Wales), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Jack Conan (Ireland), Luke Cowan-Dickie (England), Tom Curry (England), Zander Fagerson (Scotland), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Jonny Hill (England), Maro Itoje (England), Wyn Jones (Wales), Courtney Lawes (England), Ken Owens (Wales), Andrew Porter (Ireland), Sam Simmonds (England), Rory Sutherland (Scotland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Hamish Watson (Scotland), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, capt).

Sexton finished the Six Nations strongly but has suffered ongoing concussion problems since.(Adam Davy/PA).

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