Will Greenwood names four Irishmen in his post-Six Nations Lions XV but drops his Irish 'bolter'
World Cup winner Will Greenwood has named four Irishmen in the XV he believes should start against the All Blacks in the first test in Auckland.
The former centre has made five changes from pre-Six Nations team, with Ireland losing a place in the side.
Greenwood's Pre-Six Nations Lions XV: 15. Stuart Hogg; 14. Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Adam Byrne; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 Tadhg Furlong; 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Jonny Gray; 6 CJ Stander, 7 James Haskell, 8 Billy Vunipola.
The other players to lose out over the course of the Six Nations were English winger Anthony Watson, replaced by George North, Robbie Henshaw loses out to Owen Farrell, who moves to inside centre to accommodate Johnny Sexton, Elliott Daly takes the position of Leinster bolter Adam Byrne, Sam Warburton has overtaken James Haskell at openside and Jonny Gray misses out to Joe Launchbury.
Greenwood's Post-Six Nations Lions XV: 15. Stuart Hogg; 14. George North, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Owen Farrell, 11. Elliott Daly; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Joe Launchbury; 6. CJ Stander, 7. Sam Warburton, 8. Billy Vunipola.
Despite dropping Henshaw for Farrell, who he is tipping for Lions captaincy, Greenwood expects the Leinster centre to make a big impact in New Zealand.
"Robbie Henshaw will be an excellent tourist. What a big-game player he is becoming," he wrote in the Daily Telegraph
"He's tough and has a bagful of tricks in his passing game as well. Both in Chicago against New Zealand and Dublin v England, when the two best teams on the planet pushed for world records, Henshaw knocked huge holes in their chances."
In-form Elliott Daly takes the place of Greenwood's pre-tournament bolter Adam Byrne but he expects the Leinster youngster to impress against Wasps in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.
"Even with injuries in the Six Nations, my bolter, Adam Byrne, has never had a sniff. I would be being even more stubborn than I normally am to try and stick with that selection. But watch and enjoy Byrne in the quarter-finals of Europe."
The flyhalf position gave Greenwood a lot to think about but he was compelled to pick Sexton on the back of his performance against England last weekend.
"A huge debate is going on in my mind here. Finn Russell got my nod in the team of the Championship at fly half. Dan Biggar will never ever go quietly into the night and pulled out some big individual performances.
"It pains me to leave out George Ford, but Dublin was the turning point. One time too many, midfield aggression and big lumps rocked him defensively and didn't allow his passing game to get going.
"Sexton, on the other hand, was absolutely majestic in Dublin. Think "New Zealand conditions" and the control he gave the team. The worry in the crowd in Dublin is how many games will he last in New Zealand - knock after knock - but I have to pick on what I saw.
"Control, strength of character, kicking game, distribution, allied with his big-game knowledge, his muscle memory of victory in Red, his leadership. I have to plump for Sexton."
"Class" Conor Murray, "loose cannon" CJ Stander and Tadhg Furlong retain their places in the team.
Greenwood also believes the Munster's Peter O'Mahony must be on the plane.
"A real possibility after not much rugby could be Peter O'Mahony at 6 and move Stander to 8 to push Billy for selection. O'Mahony I would 100 per cent take to New Zealand," he said.