Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.
When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.
The British and Irish Lions 2021 squad to face South Africa this summer is now just a matter of days from being announced.
Head coach Warren Gatland, about to embark on his third tour as the man in charge, will name his slimmed-down touring group on Thursday, May 6.
Former Wales boss Gatland will this week be finalising his squad selection along with his coaching team: Welshmen Neil Jenkins (kicking), Steve Tandy (defence), Robin McBryde (forwards) and Scotland’s Gregor Townsend (attack).
Here’s what to expect from the grand unveiling for one of rugby’s highest honours:
How will the Lions 2021 squad announcement work? Rugby fans will want to pencil 11.45am into their diaries for May 6.
That’s when the Lions’ live stream will begin on lionsrugby.com, the Lions app and social media channels. You’ll also be able to follow live updates via WalesOnline’s rugby page, too.
The first unveiling will be the Lions captain, expected at around 12.15pm, before the full squad is revealed at around 12.30pm.
How many players will be named in the Lions squad? Gatland has previously indicated there will be a scaled-down squad of around 36 players.
That would be a drop from 41 players which travelled to New Zealand in 2017 for the drawn series against the All Blacks.
Gatland previously said: “We’re probably looking at 35 or 36 players.
“Maybe a 20-15 split (forwards to backs) or a 20-16 split. In doing that, we’ll probably name a standby squad.
“You pick a squad of 35 or 36, three players in certain positions, but they can engage fully up until the end of the tour. If you’re not in the 23, you’re only a performance or an injury away from getting selected or being in the squad.”
At this stage, one would imagine Gatland and his assistants know enough about prospective players to make a decision about their tour involvement.
Even so, there aren’t many more opportunities for players to sway Gatland’s mind, with there being no Gallagher Premiership or PRO14 Rainbow Cup this weekend. Instead, Leicester face Ulster and Bath face Montpellier in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals, while Leinster’s last-four clash with La Rochelle in the Champions Cup will be the only match in that tournament of interest to Lions bosses.
Who is in the running to be Lions captain? Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones and England second-row Maro Itoje seem to be the two main candidates in the running.
The Wales captain has odds of 4/5 according to Sky Bet, closely followed by Itoje at 11/10. Stuart Hogg is then 7/1, followed by Owen Farrell at 20/1 and Ken Owens at 25/1.
How will players find out if they’re in the Lions squad? The same time as the rest of us.
Lions players will be at home, or maybe with their club team-mates, watching online in some form and hoping their name is read out.
Gatland is said to have sent letters to more than 50 potential players to establish their availability, with a number of current non-internationals apparently among them.
Prospective tourists have to let Gatland know if they would rather not feature on the tour, which will involve entering into a Covid bubble for six weeks. The last thing Lions bosses would want is to name a player only to be turned down.
One player in particular who that could benefit is Exeter back-rower Sam Simmonds, who has been in superb form for his club of late despite not being involved with Eddie Jones’ England team.
Danny Care is another in the international cold who could be called up.