Bookmakers Betfair have 30 players odds-on to make the British and Irish Lions squad this summer, but Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton is not included.
The fly-half is evens to take on the Springboks this summer, but sits behind Owen Farrell, Finn Russell and Dan Biggar. Should Warren Gatland opt for three No10s as he did in 2017, the Irishman is poised to miss out.
Sexton’s Ireland and Leinster teammate Cian Healy is another player who is not odds-on, as is recent Wales centurion George North, who will be aspiring to make his third tour.
Having said that, four props are favourites currently, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Furlong, Wyn Jones and Mako Vunipola, yet Gatland took six in 2017. So Healy, Ellis Genge, Andrew Porter and Zander Fagerson all have the same odds (11/10) to for the final two spots to fill the quota of three tightheads and looseheads, while Tomas Francis and Rory Sutherland are outsiders.
North is 6/4 to be selected, while his 20-year-old compatriot Louis Rees-Zammit is 6/5 following a blistering opening three rounds of the Guinness Six Nations. His odds will sharply improve over the coming weeks if his form continues though.
The majority of the players that are currently odds-on have impressed over the opening three rounds of the Six Nations. In fact, Manu Tuilagi is the only player from the 30 that has not featured in this year’s Championship having torn his Achilles tendon in November.
Tuilagi is joined by 13 other Englishmen on the list of favourites, with Farrell having the best odds at 1/20. Some noticeable names from England that are not odds-on are Luke Cowan-Dicke, who is evens, and injured 2017 tourist Jack Nowell. Meanwhile, exiled Exeter Chiefs star Sam Simmonds is 2/1.
Five Irishmen are odds-on, Conor Murray, Gary Ringrose, James Ryan, CJ Stander and Furlong, while Tadhg Beirne is evens and Robbie Henshaw is 6/5.
Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Jonny Gray are the three Scottish favourites, although winger Duhan van der Merwe stands a very good chance at 5/4, while both Hamish Watson and Rory Sutherland are 6/4. Jamie Ritchie, arguably Scotland’s form back row, has strangely long odds at 7/2.
Following a surprising upturn in form after a poor 2020, Welsh players are big winners from this list with eight favourites. Josh Adams and Wyn Jones are the only two from that eight that have not toured with the Lions before. Taulupe Faletau is also evens, but there is no space currently for 2013 player of the series Leigh Halfpenny.
Of course, Gatland is going to select more than 30 players for the series whether it is in South Africa or elsewhere. That means plenty of players who are not favourites currently are still going to feature.
With three wins from three in this year’s Six Nations, a number of Welsh players would have thrown their hat into the ring this spring but the biggest test lies ahead. Wayne Pivac’s side face Italy in round four before a potential Grand Slam decider against France in Paris on the final weekend. Should they triumph at the Stade de France, it is likely that far more than eight players will be odds-on.
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