Alun Wyn Jones to lead Lions squad of 37 to South Africa

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will lead a 37-man British & Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa this summer.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will lead a 37-man British & Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa this summer.

Warren Gatland has named a squad which is evenly balanced between the four home nations.

Jones leads a 10-strong Welsh contingent after their 2021 Guinness Six Nations title, succeeding compatriot Sam Warburton in the captaincy.

He is joined by some familiar faces in the forward pack with Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau both selected for their third Tours, while Ken Owens will go on his second.

Loosehead prop Wyn Jones, a standout performer in the Championship, completes the Welsh forward contingent.

There are five Wales backs included, with newcomer Louis Rees-Zammit earning selection after some stunning performances in the Championship.

He is joined by fellow back three flyers Liam Williams and Josh Adams, as well as half-back duo Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar.

Scotland enjoyed a fine Guinness Six Nations campaign with wins away in both England and France, and are rewarded with eight selections.

The 2021 Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship, Hamish Watson, is included as are props Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson.

In the backs, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg return to the Lions fold, while Ali Price, Chris Harris and Duhan van der Merwe – the Championship’s top try-scorer – will all get a first taste of the Lions.

There are 11 Englishmen in the squad, including six 2017 Test starters. Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola are all named in the pack, while Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson will also return.

Courtney Lawes was also on that Tour, while Tom Curry is rewarded for his fine form over the last two years, with a trio of Exeter Chiefs forwards also making the cut, hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, lock Jonny Hill and No.8 Sam Simmonds.

Last but not least, eight Ireland players will travel to South Africa, including 2017 tourists Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw.

They are joined by Tadhg Beirne, one of the stars of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations, prop Andrew Porter, back-rower Jack Conan and centre Bundee Aki.

Speaking about his squad, Gatland said: “We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa.

“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position. We saw some outstanding performances in the recent Guinness Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.

“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the World Champions. We’ve left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.

“Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today.”

Lions squad to tour South Africa

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie (England), Jamie George (England), Ken Owens (Wales), Wyn Jones (Wales), Rory Sutherland (Scotland), Mako Vunipola (England), Zander Fagerson (Scotland), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Andrew Porter (Ireland), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, captain), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Jonny Hill (England), Maro Itoje (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Jack Conan (Ireland), Tom Curry (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Sam Simmonds (England), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Hamish Watson (Scotland)

Backs: Gareth Davies (Wales), Conor Murray (Ireland), Ali Price (Scotland), Dan Biggar (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Finn Russell (Scotland), Bundee Aki (Ireland), Elliot Daly (England), Chris Harris (Scotland), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Josh Adams (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), Anthony Watson (England), Liam Williams (Wales)