England players look set to dominate Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions selection, at least according to the betting odds of one bookmaker and their punters.
Nine England players are favourites in their positions to be selected for the tour, giving a glimpse of what punters project to be Gatland’s starting Test fifteen. Bookmakers Boyle Sports opened the betting and punters are clearly going for tried and tested selections.
Second to England’s nine players, with three starting spots, is Ireland; with Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan making the Test XV. Wales manage just two selections, Jonathan Davies and Josh Adams, while Scotland got just one selection – Stuart Hogg at fullback.
The team is littered with lots of controversial predicted omissions. For example, there also might not be room for Racing 92’s Finn Russell on tour, with the Scot fourth choice at 10 in a team likely only to bring three out halves.
Punters are also going for the relatively out of form Conor Murray as favourite at scrumhalf, ahead of Gareth Davies and Ben Youngs, while in-form Ireland nine John Cooney is named in fourth position.
Robbie Henshaw would also miss the tour, being just fifth favourite among the centres, a position where Gatland is likely to pick four at the very most.
Form Guinness Six Nations flanker Jamie Ritchie is only the 9th choice back row according to the odds, likely placing him outside a place on the plane, with injured Leinster back row Dan Leavy picked ahead of him in 8th. Ritchie made Lions guru Ian McGeehan’s starting Test fifteen at six, as it happens.
Courtney Lawes, who can play both second and ‘third row’, would also miss the plane per the betting, as would Scotland’s Jonny Gray, an unlucky absentee from the 2017 tour. They are picked at 6th and 5th respectively.
Again, there’s no place for Scot Rory Sutherland, arguably the Six Nations form prop. The loosehead is the ninth choice prop, and fifth choice loosehead. His partner in crime, tighthead Zander Fagerson, is placed at 10th overall.
At hooker there’s no room on tour for Ken Owens, who placed 4th, despite being selected by Gatland for Wales on over 70 occasions.
At fullback Leigh Halfpenny, the British and Irish Lions stalwart at 15, also looks highly likely to be omitted as a 10/1 long shot in 18th place in the list of wings and fullbacks. There’s (hopefully) a significant amount of rugby to be played between then and now, all is of course still to play for.
Lions XV favourites: Stuart Hogg (Scotland); Jonny May (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Manu Tuilagi (England), Josh Adams (Wales); Owen Farrell (England), Conor Murray (Ireland); Mako Vunipola (England), Jamie George (England), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), James Ryan (Ireland), Sam Underhill (England), Tom Curry (England), Billy Vunipola (England).
Ian McGeechan Lions XV: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams, Owen Farrell, Gareth Davies, Rory Sutherland, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, James Ryan, Jamie Ritchie, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola
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