Former England captain Dylan Hartley has chosen Maro Itoje and Tadhg Beirne as his second-row partnership in his starting British and Irish Lions XV this summer.
In a squad that is going to contain an abundance of world-class locks, Hartley chose Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones and Beirne’s Ireland teammate James Ryan in his secondary squad, although he did name the Welshman his tour captain.
“Everyone’s wondering where Alun Wyn Jones is, and he’s the back-up to Mr Maro Itoje,” the 97-cap hooker said on RugbyPass Offload this week.
“They’re both workhorses. They’re both annoyingly good workhorses. So if one of them gets injured or you want to bring a like-for-like on, they’re very similar grafting players.”
Beirne is rewarded for his outstanding Guinness Six Nations, where he was a nominee for Player of the Championship. The winner of that gong, Hamish Watson, has also made the squad, alongside Tom Curry and Taulupe Faletau in the back-row.
Hartley’s former Northampton Saints teammate Dan Biggar has also made his team at fly-half on the back of a catalogue of fine displays for club and country in 2021. He is partnered with his Welsh teammate Gareth Davies inside him.
One position that will have to change is outside centre, where Harley picked George North. The newly fashioned No13 has since been ruled out of the tour with a ruptured ACL.
North would have been in many people’s starting XV against the Springboks before he picked up the injury last weekend playing for the Ospreys. Hartley chose Henry Slade as his back-up option to the Welshman at outside centre.
With less than a week before Warren Gatland names his 36-man squad, only those playing in the European semi-finals this weekend have a final chance to impress him.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 29, 2021
Hartley’s Lions XV:
1 Mako Vunipola
2 Luke-Cowan Dickie
3 Tadhg Furlong
4 Maro Itoje
5 Tadhg Beirne
6 Tom Curry
7 Hamish Watson
8 Taulupe Faletau
9 Gareth Davies
10 Dan Biggar
11 Duhan van der Merwe
12 Robbie Henshaw
13 George North
14 Anthony Watson
15 Stuart Hogg
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