Kyle Sinckler is a shock omission from the British & Irish Lions squad for this summer’s tour of South Africa. Manu Tuilagi and Johnny Sexton have also been left out of the larger-than-expected 37-man squad but, as revealed by the Guardian, Warren Gatland has included Sam Simmonds and made Alun Wyn Jones his captain.
Other notable selections include the Exeter lock Jonny Hill, the Ireland No 8 Jack Conan, Chris Harris and Bundee Aki in the centres. Elliot Daly also makes the cut despite his loss of form for England during the Six Nations. The list of players who can consider themselves unlucky to miss out is long but chief among them, on top of Sinckler, Sexton and Tuilagi, are Henry Slade, Garry Ringrose, James Ryan, Jonny Gray, Josh Navidi and Jonny May.
Gatland’s decision to omit Sinckler – his chosen tighthead props are Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter and Zander Fagerson – is a bolt from the blue. In 2017 Sinckler was selected for the tour of New Zealand having not yet made his first start for England but ended up appearing in all three Tests off the bench. He and Gatland have history, however, and prior to Wales’s 2019 Six Nations win over England the New Zealander described Sinckler as an “emotional timebomb”. Sinckler proceeded to lose his cool in the match amid provocation from Gatland’s players.
Sexton is the unlucky fly-half with Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell and Finn Russell preferred. The Ireland captain missed Leinster’s European semi-final defeat by La Rochelle with another head injury and though he has started five of the past six Lions Tests he will turn 36 during this summer’s tour. Tuilagi, meanwhile, misses out having not yet returned to action since sustaining an achilles injury in September but there is a place for Courtney Lawes, who is also on his way back from injury.