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Saturday 23 September 2017

11 Irish players tipped to make next year's Lions squad - and some young guns get the nod

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

It is a fool's errand to predict the 2017 Lions squad until after next year's Six Nations but that doesn't stop rugby fans from around Ireland and Britain in speculating on the make-up of Warren Gatland's touring party.

The Lions will take on back-to-back World champions New Zealand this summer, and Gatland will have some serious food for thought after an autumn campaign that saw Ireland turn over the All Blacks.

The Telegraph have picked a 37-man squad that includes 11 Irish players, which would be an impressive return for Joe Schmidt's men.

Interestingly, they have included Ireland tighthead Tadhg Furlong in their panel after a stellar November.

Furlong was at his bulldozing best throughout the last month, and even batted away suggestions of a Lions berth after Ireland's win over Australia.

Still, he is one of seven forwards who make the cut in The Telegraph's selection.

England lead the way with 12 players, Ireland are next with 11, Wales have nine and Scotland have five.

Here is their squad:

FRONT ROW: Jack McGrath (Ireland), Mako Vunipola (England), Cian Healy (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), WP Nel (Scotland), Dylan Hartley (England), Rory Best (Ireland), Jamie George (England).

SECOND ROW: Alun Wyn-Jones (Wales), Maro Itoje (England), Devin Toner (Ireland), George Kruis (England), Jonny Gray (Scotland).

BACK ROW: Chris Robshaw (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), John Barclay (Scotland), Sam Warburton (Wales), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland).

HALF BACK: Rhys Webb (Wales), Conor Murray (Ireland), Ben Youngs (England), Dan Biggar (Wales), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Owen Farrell (England).

CENTRE: Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Huw Jones (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales).

BACK THREE: George North (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Anthony Watson (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Rob Kearney (Ireland).

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