Warren Gatland will have a core group of players that are guaranteed to make his British and Irish Lions squad later this year.
But there will also be a handful of places that are up for grabs. There may be frontrunners to land those spots after the Guinness Six Nations, but things could change over the coming weeks, especially with some huge European encounters.
So these are the players who are on the edge of making the Lions:
Wales’ Wyn Jones may be the only loosehead who is certain to be picked this year, meaning there is a scrap between Rory Sutherland, Mako Vunipola and Cian Healy. Dave Kilcoyne, who started ahead of Healy for Ireland’s final match of this Six Nations, is in the mix as well.
Ireland’s Andrew Porter is battling with Scotland’s Zander Fagerson and Wales’ Tomas Francis for the final tighthead spot behind Tadhg Furlong and Kyle Sinckler. The Scot may be leading that battle, but this is a very tight one.
For Scotland’s Jonny Gray, he is unfortunately playing in a position full of players vying to captain the Lions this year, not just make the squad. The noticeable performances put in by Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson, particularly the former, this Six Nations did not help the Scot’s cause either.
He also missed the clash with France, which would have been the perfect opportunity to lay down a marker, so will seek to impress in the latter stages of the season with Exeter Chiefs.
Wales’ Adam Beard finds himself in a similar position to Jonny Gray in the second row, but he did all he could do during Wales’ Six Nations campaign and it is now up to Gatland.
If the Six Nations is an opportunity for players to put themselves in the shop window for the Lions tour, Sam Underhill missed his chance with a hip injury. Though one of the best defensive flankers in the game, plenty of Underhill’s rivals for a Lions place made a good job of staking their claim during the Six Nations.
In a position where there are no clear cut players to make the tour, scrum-half Ali Price is in contention, so a lot was riding on the match at the Stade de France last night.
Like Price, Wales’ Tomos Williams stands a very good chance of being selected by Gatland, but fell behind Gareth Davies in the pecking order for Wales after a hamstring injury mid-tournament.
The world knows what Manu Tuilagi brings to the Test arena, but the question is whether he will be at full fitness come the Lions tour as he still recovers from a torn Achilles suffered in September.
England’s poor showing in the Six Nations worked against many aspiring Lions, particularly Henry Slade. Not that the Exeter Chiefs man was a poor performer himself necessarily, but England’s conservative style and proclivity to kick prevented him from making the best account of himself.
Stuart Hogg and Liam Williams are the frontrunners to be Gatland’s fullbacks, but Hugo Keenan is now a viable option in the back three after his Six Nations. His aerial solidity could be vital in South Africa.
LIONS SQUAD: After a seismic Guinness Six Nations, Josh Raisey ??? tries to predict the full, 41-man squad that @lionsofficial kingpin Warren Gatland is likely to name this May. https://t.co/6Ob8ZjXkIW
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 22, 2021
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