Warren Gatland recently named his British and Irish Lions XV after the Summer Internationals. Unsurprisingly, Ireland took 9 spots following their historic series win in New Zealand. LWOS Rugby’s Connor Dickins picked an alternative XV, containing 6 Irish players, and 6 English. This is a side designed to physically annihilate the opposition, with a scary list of ball carriers. Would this defeat Gatland’s team? Let us know in the comments…
British and Irish Lions XV after the Summer Internationals:
1. Ellis Genge
The England prop is arguably one of the most improved players in the world, and was an excellent ball carrier against Australia. He edges Ireland’s Andrew Porter, who would be on the bench.
2. Dan Sheehan
It may be a shock to not start Jamie George, but there will be no worries with Sheehan at the set piece, an area where Ireland excelled in New Zealand. Sheehan also offers plenty around the pitch, statistically ranking the highest of any Front 5 forward the last 6 Nations (according to Fantasy Rugby).
3. Tadhg Furlong
The Leinsterman arguably hasn’t reached his exceptionally high standards of last season, but Furlong remains one of the best in his position, and his starting jersey isn’t really in doubt.
It was a shock to see Gatland exclude Itoje from his starting team. The Saracen remains world-class, continuing to be a gangly nuisance for the opposition.
5. Tadhg Beirne
Arguably the best player in the Summer Internationals. He seems to be able to do everything; from turnovers, to high tackle counts, or even a 50/22 (as seen against Wales in the 6 Nations). A clear starter at second row or flanker.
6. Courtney Lawes
The England captain brings so much to the table, offering big hits and a dependable lineout option. His leadership and experience would be hugely valuable too, having been on two Lions tours beforehand.
7. Josh van der Flier
The Ireland flanker’s impressive pace would bring much-needed balance to this back row. The Leinsterman is arguably the form flanker in the world, after exceptional games in the 6 Nations and Summer Tour.
8. Billy Vunipola
Vunipola’s return to form means he edges the formidable Caelan Doris. He’s back to utilizing his freak strength but also opens up space in other ways too. For example, he threw more offloads than any other player in last season’s Gallagher Premiership.
9. James Gibson-Park
Earlier this year, the Ireland 9 was playing so well that Stuart Barnes claimed he was out-performing Antoine Dupont. This may be slightly hyperbolic, but Gibson-Park would be crucial to providing the quick ball to thrive off.
10. Marcus Smith
Ireland fans will likely be fuming with this pick, but it seems a risk to have Sexton as your main orchestrator given his injury concerns. Additionally, Smith’s flair and running game would balance well with this backline of beasts.
The 6 ft 4 winger looks and plays like an Ivan Drago of rugby, primed for destruction. Imagine this giant running off Marcus Smith’s no-look passes, or being utilized under the high ball.
12. Robbie Henshaw
The Ireland centre has a complete skillset being dependable at 12 and 13 in the Summer Tests. His adaptability is sensational.
13. George North
Another curveball selection, but sometimes, you just need a centre to bash holes for you. If not for injury, North may have been the outside centre against the Springboks when the Lions toured last year.
14. Louis Rees-Zammit
After being dropped for much of the 6 Nations, Rees-Zammit has re-found his form. His pace and moments of magic offer a totally different threat to the likes of Van der Merwe and North.
15. Freddie Steward
At just 21, Steward is one of the most consistent players under the high ball. The ruler of the skies negates kicking strategies and has also improved his attacking game in recent months.
British and Irish Lions Bench:
Jamie George, Andrew Porter, Zander Fagerson, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Kieran Hardy, Owen Farrell, Gary Ringrose
Connor Dickins has been writing for LWOS Rugby since September 2021, covering a wide variety of topics. His main focus has been on English domestic rugby, as well as interviews with players from across the world. Connor has also written articles for the World Rugby Museum blog 'From the Vaults'. He graduated with a History BA from Essex University in 2016.