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4 England outsiders - including uncapped Marcus Smith - said to be in contention for Lions selection on Thursday

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Four players unwanted by Eddie Jones’ England – including Harlequins duo Marcus Smith and Danny Care – are said to be under consideration for selection on the 2021 Lions tour by Warren Gatland. The 36-strong squad is due to be unveiled on Thursday and speculation has grown in recent days that Gatland has reportedly been assessing the merits of Smith, Care, Bath’s Ben Spencer and Exeter’s Sam Simmonds ahead of the big announcement.  


Smith is uncapped at Test level, Care last played for England in November 2018, Spencer’s last cap came off the bench at the 2019 World Cup final while you have to go back to March 2018 to find Simmonds’ last cap. 

Despite all four being out of favour with England, whose fifth-place Guinness Six Nations finish resulted in much criticism of Jones’ selection choices, they are all apparently in the frame for Thursday’s big announcement, a discussion that began with 57 players initially considered when Gatland sat down last month for the first time with his four assistants, Gregor Townsend, Steve Tandy, Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins.

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A number of big names have since been ruled out of contention, notably ACL victims George North and Joe Launchbury while Ben Youngs has also told Gatland that he isn’t available to travel for personal reasons. 

Youngs’ unavailability quickly led to the names of Care – described last month to RugbyPass as a social glue player – and Spencer getting speculated on as potential tour picks as scrum-half isn’t a position where there is a massive depth or hugely impressive form coming out of the recent Guinness Six Nations.

An injury affected the campaign of Ireland’s Conor Murray, Wales had a revolving door at No9 due to their injury profile while Scotland’s Ali Price also spent time on their bench after his error led to Ireland’s winning points on March 14. This selection inconsistency – allied to the decision of England first-choice Youngs not to opt-in for the Lions – has led to the Gallagher Premiership form of Care and Spencer coming in for assessment by Gatland and co. 


It’s the same with Smith and Simmonds, two more players who have been enjoying a rich vein of recent form with their Premiership clubs away for the Test scene, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed with the countdown on towards Thursday’s Lions tour squad announcement.


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