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Fans' poll picks Lions Test team featuring 5 English, 4 Welsh, 3 Irish and 3 Scottish while Billy Vunipola doesn't even make the plane

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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A poll of more than 13,000 rugby fans via the official Lions app believes that Alun Wyn Jones will skipper Warren Gatland’s tourists in South Africa and reckon there will be no selection in the squad for England trio Billy Vunipola, George Ford and Elliot Daly.

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Part of the Lions’ Vodafone app has included an XV Selector where fans from across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been making their voices heard and highlights from the fans’ selections include:

Alun Wyn Jones selected as captain with 40 per cent of the vote over Maro Itoje (22 per cent), Stuart Hogg (20 per cent) and Owen Farrell (10 per cent);

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Owen Farrell (45 per cent) misses out on the starting XV with Finn Russell (69 per cent) the fans’ pick at fly-half and Robbie Henshaw preferred at No12;

Louis Rees-Zammit (56 per cent) is the favourite to start on the wing, with Anthony Watson (40 per cent) currently edging out Jonny May (37 per cent) on the other flank;

Billy Vunipola misses out on the Lions squad entirely, despite being the first choice to start at No8 before the tournament (14 per cent down from 44 per cent); Tadhg Beirne books a place on the plane with 20 per cent of the vote, despite not a single fan picking him for the squad pre-tournament;

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Stuart Hogg (81 per cent) was the most picked player by Lions fans, just ahead of Itoje (77 per cent), with the two stars selected in the starting XV;

While the Lions poll doesn’t make good reading for Vunipola, English trio Manu Tuilagi, Sam Simmonds and Sam Underhill haven’t lost out with the fans despite not making Eddie Jones’ Six Nations squads– all three have received enough votes so far to make the plane even though Tuilagi has been injured since September.

“The fans have built a strong team, no doubt about it, and one I’m confident would have a great chance at going toe-to-toe with South Africa,” said Jeremy Guscott, the 1997 Lions Test series winner and Vodafone ambassador.

“Louis Rees-Zammit has really impressed this season and deserves a seat on the plane, if not the starting Test team. I personally would have Maro Itoje playing second row and Tadhg Beirne or Taulupe Faletau as our blindside flanker, but agree with the fans that Anthony Watson would deliver a good performance on the right wing.”

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LIONS STARTING XV (and bench)
1. Mako Vunipola (29%)
2. Jamie George (39%)
3. Tadhg Furlong (47%)
4. Maro Itoje (77%)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (capt) (50%)
6. Tom Curry (50%)
7. Hamish Watson (42%)
8. Taulupe Faletau (46%)
9. Conor Murray (31%)
10. Finn Russell (69%)
11. Louis Rees-Zammit (56%)
12. Robbie Henshaw (38%)
13. Jonathan Davies (35%)
14. Anthony Watson (40%)
15. Stuart Hogg (81%)
Replacements
16. Ken Owens (34%)
17. Cian Healy (16%)
18. Kyle Sinckler (39%)
19. James Ryan (30%)
20. CJ Stander (43%)
21. Ali Price (22%)
22. Owen Farrell (45%)
23. Jonny May (37%)

WHO HAS MADE THE PLANE?
FORWARDS (22)
Hookers (3): Jamie George (39%), Luke Cowan-Dickie (27%), Ken Owens (34%);
Looseheads (3): Mako Vunipola (29%), Cian Healy (16%), Rory Sutherland (15%);
Tightheads (3): Tadhg Furlong (47%), Kyle Sinckler (38%), Andrew Porter (12%);
Second rows (5): Maro Itoje (77%), James Ryan (49%), Alun Wyn Jones (50%), Jonny Gray (29%), Tadhg Beirne (21%);
Back rows (8): CJ Stander (43%), Tom Curry (50%), Sam Underhill (23%), Justin Tipuric (41%), Taulupe Faletau (46%), Josh Navidi (11%), Sam Simmonds (16%), Hamish Watson (42%)

BACKS (17)
Scrum-halves (3): Conor Murray (31%), Ali Price (22%), Gareth Davies (16%)
Out-halves (3): Owen Farrell (45%), Finn Russell (69%), Jonathan Sexton (10%), Centres (5): Manu Tuilagi (26%), Jonathan Davies (35%), Garry Ringrose (33%), Henry Slade (22%), Robbie Henshaw (38%)
Wingers (3): Jonny May (37%), Louis Rees-Zammit (56%), Duhan van der Merwe (30%)
Full-backs (3): Stuart Hogg (81%), Liam Williams (24%), Anthony Watson (40%)

 

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Fans' poll picks Lions Test team featuring 5 English, 4 Welsh, 3 Irish and 3 Scottish while Billy Vunipola doesn't even make the plane

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