Gatland picks 12 Welshmen for Lions tour to New Zealand

Gatland picks 12 Welshmen for Lions tour to New Zealand

Gatland picks 12 Welshmen for Lions tour to New Zealand

He is one of 16 England internationals named in the Lions squad, which will be captained by Welsh back rower Sam Warburton.

IRELAND skipper Rory Best is expecting a hostile welcome for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand this summer.

"The three (hookers) we've come to we believe give us the right mix that we need of strengths from Jamie's set piece and his running game, Ken Owens form in the Six Nations was tremendous, Rory Best's competitiveness and his leadership and work and set-piece".

There is no place for England captain Dylan Hartley, but Wales number eight Ross Moriarty is a surprise inclusion.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen (L) talks with Wales captain Sam Warburton (R) after the rugby Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales in Wellington on June 18, 2016.

"There has been healthy debate about the squad, and now that it has been announced we get behind it 100 per cent and everyone supporting what is an incredible, traditional team".

While the squad is full of power and heft, the decision to pick Jonathan Joseph - who was struggling to make the party - as well as players like Elliot Daly, Stuart Hogg and Liam Williams, means there will be no shortage of pace and skill in the backline.

Hartley had been selected for the 2013 Lions tour of Australia when he was axed from the squad after receiving a ban for calling referee Wayne Barnes a "cheat" during the English Premiership final.

To be selected on the Lions Test starting XV is the highest representative honour available to players from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

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He was also named on the last Lions tour to Australia in 2013 although Leigh Halfpenny was preferred for the Test matches.

England's Jack Nowell and Joe Marler, Wales' Dan Biggar, Jonathan Davies and Taulupe Faletau are all been included despite coming under pressure from in-form competition.

"New Zealand are the only team I haven't beaten yet in my worldwide career and it's something I'd love to do", said Warburton after the squad was announced.

"Whereas with New Zealand, any time we've been there with Ireland, it's a lot more hostile, everyone will know in the country what you're there for and you'll be in a gold fish bowl".

Obviously it's a shock to me, I only found out an hour ago, but I'm truly over the moon.

The tour will kick off on June 3 with a clash against a Provincial Union Team while the three-Test series against the All Blacks will start on June 24 with the second and third Tests replaying the following two Saturdays.

"Garry, like everyone else, we had a pool of players and the depth was huge".

England lock Maro Itoje is the squad's youngest player, aged 22.

"So you look at Scottish teams over the last few years, Glasgow won (the Guinness PRO12) a few years back now but every clutch game we have played, we have maybe not shown what we can do".

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