There were some raised eyebrows at a number of selections in Warren Gatland's British and Irish Lions squad this afternoon, but the New Zealand native opted against picking any of the Kildare contingent who would have been available to him.
Gatland named a 41-man squad that included the likes of Kyle Sinkler and Ben Te'o, both of whom don't regularly start for England, but opted to leave out regular international starters such as Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo have all been left out.
Naas man Jamie Heaslip, a tourist with the Lions in 2009 and 2013, has been left out as he continues to struggle with a back injury, though he would have struggled to make it into an extremely competitive back row even as a squad member had he been fit. Former North Kildare RFC second row Devin Toner has also lost out on selection, with a dip in the Leinster man's recent high standards coming at an inopportune time when other second row options for Gatland's squad came into some great form.
Joey Carbery and Adam Byrne, both of whom had been discussed as potential 'bolters', were not named in the final squad, with no player representing a really left-field call from the former Welsh coach.
Sam Warburton has been named captain for the second successive tour and will lead the Lions down in the home of the world champions when their tour gets underway on June 3. The first test against the All Blacks will be played on June 24.
Lions squad to tour New Zealand
Backs: Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te’o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England).
Forwards: Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Peter O’Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Billy Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales, capt).
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