Friday 20 April 2018

Jamie Heaslip shifts position in Paul O'Connell's intriguing Ireland-heavy Lions test team

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

This weekend doesn't just herald the start of the 2017 Six Nations - it also marks the beginning of a deluge of hypothetical Lions test teams as pundits and journalists use Six Nations form to forecast which players might take the field in New Zealand this summer.

With Warren Gatland set to name his touring party to face the All Blacks shortly after the tournament's conclusion, each Six Nations matchday will feature a host of subplots as rivals battle to catch the Kiwi's attention.

Legendary Lion Paul O'Connell will be on our TV screens over the next few weeks as part of BBC's coverage, and in that role he named his current Lions test team on Radio Five Live last night.

Predictably, O'Connell went for a large number of Irish players but one positional call raised a few eyebrows, with the ex-Ireland captain shifting Jamie Heaslip from number eight to blindside flanker.

In total, seven Irish players made O'Connell's selection - Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton and Simon Zebo.

Here is his full team:

15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

14. George North (Wales)

13. Jonathan Joseph (England)

12. Owen Farrell (England)

11. Simon Zebo (Ireland)

10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

9. Conor Murray (Ireland)

1. Mako Vunipola (England)

2. Rory Best (Ireland)

3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

5. Maro Itoje (England)

6. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

7. Sean O'Brien (Ireland)

8. Billy Vunipola (England)

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