Former British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton raised some eyebrows today when he revealed a Lions XVs selection that featured just two English players.

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Despite winning both the Guinness Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup, Warburton didn’t see fit to reward them in this team selection, instead choosing an Irish heavy selection to face the Springboks in South Africa in 2021.

Warburton, who skippered the 2017 tour of New Zealand, revealed his selection on Twitter, writing: “What a game England. Check out my Lion XV. What do you think?”

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To be fair to Warburton, although he didn’t specify it in his Tweet, his selection was in the context of their current form from the weekend’s Autumn Nations Cup finals, where England failed to fire, barely pulling themselves over the line against a third choice French outfit.

SAM WARBURTON’S LIONS XV
1. Cian Healy
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie
3. Andrew Porter
4. Maro Itoje
5. James Ryan
6. Justin Tipuric
7. Peter O’Mahoney
8. Taulupe Faletau
9. Conor Murray
10. Jonny Sexton
11. Keith Earls
12. Bundee Aki
13. Robbie Henshaw
14. Duhan van der Merwe
15. Jacob Stockdale

The Welshman’s final rugby match was the Lions’ test draw against the All Blacks in June 2017. Following the series in New Zealand, he underwent neck surgery on an ongoing injury followed by proactive knee surgery earlier in 2018. He attempted to return to full fitness but was unable to reach the heights he desired and so made the heartbreaking decision to retire at just 29.

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England head coach Eddie Jones has specified that he wants 20 English players to make the tour, an endeavor he believes will stand to the players ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. There’ll be fat chance of that if Gatland picks a team anything like Warburton’s.

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