Gatland reveals the players he would select for SA tour
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has suggested that his squad to face world champions South Africa in 2021 could be loaded full of England players.
Speaking to 2009 Lions tourist Ugo Monye on BBC Radio 5 Live, the Kiwi listed Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, Anthony Watson and Manu Tuilagi as the five players that are definitely going to be picked.
This may not come as a surprise to many after the sensational World Cup that many of those players had, which saw the 21-year-old flank Curry nominated for World Rugby player of the Year.
🏉 ‘They’re all English players so I better pick a scotsman, a welshman and an irishman’ 🏉
🇿🇦 Warren Gatland tells @ugomonye who he would pick in his Lions Squad for South Africa 2021 🇿🇦
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) November 13, 2019
This is obviously a position that no coach wants to be put under, as so much can happen in the next year-and-a-half before the series begins, but the longtime Wales coach is clearly an admirer of the squad that Eddie Jones has assembled.
A number of the current England squad have already toured with the Lions, but the emergence of the likes of Curry and his back-row partner Sam Underhill since 2017, as well as the form of George Ford in Japan, means 2021 could be another fruitful year for England’s players.
Gatland was also full of praise of Scotland’s Stuart Hogg and Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong, suggesting they are both guaranteed to take on the three-time RWC winners. He of course said that his captain Alun-Wyn Jones is likely to go, as is wing Josh Adams. However, he also listed 22-year-old blindside flank Aaron Wainwright as a player who could provide an X-factor to the Lions.
This was a breakthrough tournament for the Dragons loose forward, and it looks like he will be a feature of the Wales pack for years to come. The prospect of him playing alongside Tom Curry is one that will leave all fans in Great Britain excited.
Of course, Gatland was reluctant to enter into such a discussion, as there is still a lot of rugby to be played before 2021, including two Six Nations.
By Josh Raisey, @RugbyPass