British and Irish Lions 2017: Sam Warburton captain, Dylan Hartley out

Lions captaincy an amazing challenge - Warburton

Wales back row Sam Warburton will captain the British and Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand this summer, but England skipper Dylan Hartley has not been selected in the 41-man squad.

Coach Warren Gatland has chosen 16 England players, 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland and two from Scotland.

The tour, which runs from 3 June to 8 July, features three Tests against the All Blacks, who are world champions.

"There were some pretty lively debates finalising the squad," said Gatland.

The New Zealander, who also took charge of the Lions in Australia in 2013, added: "We are very happy with the quality of squad we have."

Warburton, 28, led the Lions to victory four years ago.

The former Wales skipper is only the second player, after England's Martin Johnson, to captain the Lions in two tours.

He stepped down as Wales captain before the 2017 Six Nations and was replaced by lock Alun Wyn Jones, who also took over when Warburton was injured for the third Lions Test in 2013.

"It is going to be the toughest thing I've done but it is definitely the biggest honour I have had," Warburton said.

"I am really looking forward to captaining the Lions for the second time and, with it being in New Zealand, it definitely ranks as the pinnacle of my career so far."

Watch Exeter celebrate Nowell's Lions call-up

Hartley, 31, misses out despite leading England to a second straight Six Nations title, with compatriot Jamie George, Ireland's Rory Best and Wales' Ken Owens the three hookers selected.

The Northampton Saints player is the third England captain in succession to miss out on Lions selection, after Steve Borthwick in 2009 and Chris Robshaw in 2013.

England centre Jonathan Joseph is included, but there is no place for fellow Six Nations winners Joe Launchbury, George Ford, James Haskell and Robshaw.

Wales number eight Ross Moriarty is a surprise inclusion, while New Zealand-born Ireland centre Jared Payne is also selected.

Full squad

Forwards: Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O'Brien (Ireland), Peter O'Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales)

Backs: Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te'o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England)

Graham Rowntree, Steve Borthwick, Warren Gatland, Sam Warburton, Andy Farrell, Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins
(L-R) Graham Rowntree (scrum coach), Steve Borthwick (forwards coach), Warren Gatland (head coach), Sam Warburton (captain), Andy Farrell (defence coach), Rob Howley (backs coach) and Neil Jenkins (kicking coach)

'This will be the toughest tour' - reaction

Gatland on Warburton: "Sam is fully aware his form needs to be good enough to be selected. There is pressure on him for that but he is the right man for the job.

"He did a great job in 2013 so for us he is the natural choice."

Gatland on squad: "There is no clear number one, two or three in some positions. That is what makes us excited about the quality of the squad.

"This will be the toughest tour - in previous tours the midweek games have been easier. If you look at the quality of the teams we are playing midweek, it is going to be hugely challenging.

"That is why we have picked a few extra players, to make sure we have got depth and quality."

The reaction


Former England back Austin Healey: "No matter who the Lions pick people will always be happy or unhappy. Surprised there wasn't more Scotland players. Two isn't enough."

Ex-Wales international Jonathan Davies: "So glad Jonathan Joseph is in the Lions squad. He's got that something special."

Former Wales and Lions forward Adam Jones: "Very proud of my boys Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler getting the Lions call up! They will both do incredibly well out there."

Courtney Lawes: "Thank you everyone for your kind messages. It's an honour to be selected for the tour to New Zealand and made even more special as it's on my son's birthday, I could not be happier."

'Dylan will bounce back'

Steve Borthwick and Dylan Hartley
Steve Borthwick won 57 caps for England between 2001 and 2010

Borthwick is an assistant to Gatland for the tour of New Zealand and has worked with Hartley since December 2015 as England's forwards coach in Eddie Jones' set-up.

"Dylan will be undoubtedly very, very disappointed but the thing about him, one thing that's really struck me, is just how resilient he is," Borthwick said.

"He's bounced back from a lot of things, he's a strong character, and I've no doubt that's exactly what he will do now.

"It's one of those positions where we are absolutely spoilt for choice with the options we have.

"We believe we've got three hookers there that are the right ones that we need to play the rugby we want to in New Zealand."

Ireland's Iain Henderson thrilled by Lions selection

Gatland's key calls - analysis

BBC chief sports writer Tom Fordyce

Decision: Hartley out, George in

Verdict: A decision that will be doubly galling to Hartley - missing out on a tour to the country of his birth and seeing a man picked who is his back-up for England. Even if, in truth, it was more of a battle for the third hooker's spot between Hartley and Owens.

Stat: All 17 of George's caps for England have been as a replacement.

Dylan Hartley & Jamie George
Saracens hooker Jamie George (right) has been selected ahead of England captain Dylan Hartley (left)

Decision: Launchbury and Gray brothers out, Henderson in

Verdict: While Henderson's display against England in the Six Nations may have sealed his place, Launchbury's sterling efforts in the first four matches have not been enough. Richie and Jonny Gray, meanwhile, can take consolation in the fact the second row is the most competitive position in the squad.

Stats: Richie Gray has started 56 of his 65 appearances for Scotland, Jonny Gray 29 of his 33. Of Henderson's 32 caps for Ireland, almost half have come off the bench.

Ross Moriarty
Number eight Ross Moriarty started all five of Wales' 2017 Six Nations games

Decision: Joseph, Payne and Moriarty in

Verdict: It was reported Joseph would miss out, but his sweet angles and steps could prove critical in a Test series where the Lions will have to score multiple tries to win matches. Moriarty's form for Wales and an expanded squad of 41 get him in; Payne represented New Zealand Under-21s, and comes with both local knowledge and caps for Gatland's old side Waikato.

Stat: Joseph has scored 80 points in 33 appearances for England.

Full schedule

June 3 - Provincial Union Team, Whangarei
June 7 - Blues, Auckland
June 10 - Crusaders, Christchurch
June 13 - Highlanders, Dunedin
June 17 - Maori All Blacks, Rotorua
June 20 - Chiefs, Hamilton
June 24 - All Blacks, Auckland
June 27 - Hurricanes, Wellington
July 1 - All Blacks, Wellington
July 8 - All Blacks, Auckland


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