There is only one weekend before Warren Gatland names his British and Irish Lions squad to travel to South Africa this year, but for many, they have already played their final game before the squad is announced.
However, for those that are still in the Heineken Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup, there is one final chance to lay down a marker. But only four out of the eight teams playing are from Great Britain and Ireland, with only Leinster competing in the Champions Cup.
That still leaves plenty of players who will be seeking to grab Gatland’s attention this weekend:
Albeit an injury doubt, at the age of 35 and with 105 Test caps to his name (six of which are for the Lions), Johnny Sexton is still forced to prove himself this weekend such is the competition for the No10 shirt this year. With Owen Farrell, Dan Biggar and Finn Russell all in contention, the Irishman will need to be at the top of his game for Leinster against La Rochelle, if he is fit.
Wales’ Wyn Jones may well be the only guaranteed loosehead prop in Warren Gatland’s squad, leaving a list of players aspiring to fill the other two spots. One of those is Cian Healy, who has the benefit over all of his rivals of playing for Leinster in a Champions Cup semi-final as the only non-French team left in the competition.
Bath’s Sam Underhill is making up for lost time after missing this year’s Guinness Six Nations with England. Perhaps the flanker’s best claim to be picked by Gatland was how Eddie Jones’ side clearly lost their venom in defence without him. But he could stake a major claim in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Montpellier on Saturday.
Like Healy, Leicester Tigers’ Ellis Genge is also vying for a loosehead spot with compatriots Mako Vunipola and Joe Marler, as well as Scotland’s Rory Sutherland. He may be an outside bet, but he has the opportunity against Ulster on Friday to improve his chances.
Scrum-half is possibly the most open position heading into this final weekend before the Lions are selected, which means Ben Youngs’ battle with John Cooney at Welford Road will have even more riding on it.
Though his Guinness Six Nations was short lived, having succumbed to a neck injury after his debut against England, Cameron Redpath may have caught Gatland’s eye with his accomplished performance at Twickenham. Another fine display in a high pressure game will help 21-year-old Bath man’s chances of making a late charge for the squad. With injuries springing up to other hopeful centres, the Scot is a bolter.
Mark McCall: "Alun Wyn Jones didn’t play for the Ospreys on Saturday"https://t.co/Ji2HwCP2BP
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 25, 2021
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