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Picking a British and Irish Lions 'debutants XV'

By Josh Raisey
Tom Curry /Getty

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There will be plenty of familiar faces in the British and Irish Lions squad this year returning for their second, third and, in the case of Alun Wyn Jones, their fourth tour.


There will equally be new names in Warren Gatland’s 36-man squad to take on South Africa, some of whom have benefited from an upturn in form in 2021.

Here is an XV of players who could make their first Lions tour this year:

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Kurtley Beale talks to The Offload:
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Kurtley Beale talks to The Offload:

1 Wyn Jones
Loosehead Wyn Jones made his Wales debut during the 2017 Lions tour, but is now a favourite to start against the Springboks.

2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
Exeter Chiefs’ Luke Cowan-Dickie looked to have moved ahead of Jamie George in the England pecking order over the Guinness Six Nations which improved his chances to start for the Lions in the first Test.

3 Zander Fagerson
Tadhg Furlong and Kyle Sinckler are the two tightheads that look to almost certain be returning for a second Lions tour, which leaves the likes of Zander Fagerson and Andrew Porter to battle for the final place in what would be the first tour for both.

4 Tadhg Beirne
After a terrific Six Nations, there is little doubt that Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne will be one the Lions tour for the first time this summer.

5 James Ryan
Ireland’s James Ryan also made his Test debut against the USA during the last Lions tour and has since established himself as one of the premier players in Europe.


6 Tom Curry
There are plenty of flankers who have put their hand up to be selected this year, but one player who looks to be guaranteed to make the first of potentially many tours at the age of 22 is England’s Tom Curry.

7 Hamish Watson
After being named the Six Nations Player of the Championship, Hamish Watson could not have done any more to make his Lions debut.

8 Sam Simmonds
The No8 candidates such as Taulupe Faletau and CJ Stander are already Lions, and Billy Vunipola was originally selected for the 2017 tour. But England outcast Sam Simmonds is in with a chance.


9 Tomos Williams
In one of the most open positions this year, at least one of the scrumhalves is likely to be a debutant and Wales Tomos Williams could be one of them.

10 Finn Russell
Scotland’s Finn Russell did actually play for the Lions in 2017 against the Hurricanes after being called up mid-tour, but he could well be in line to be selected for the original squad for the first time.

11 Louis Rees-Zammit
At the age of 20, Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit is another player who is likely to make the first of many tours this year.

12 Chris Harris
Though primarily an outside centre, Scotland’s Chris Harris did all he could during the Six Nations to make the Lions squad. An outside bet, but has the best defensive game of all options.

13 Garry Ringrose
Ireland’s Garry Ringrose was relatively new to Test rugby in 2017, having made his Ireland debut in November 2016, and therefore missed out on the Lions. But he is primed to be selected this year.

14 Jonny May
At the age of 31, England’s Jonny May should make his first Lions tour this year after narrowly missing out in 2017.

15 Hugo Keenan
Seasoned Lions Stuart Hogg and Liam Williams are the standout fullbacks heading into the summer, but Ireland’s Hugo Keenan is a late bolter after the Six Nations and his form for Leinster.


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