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Nine Irish stars named in Lions squad

first_imgThe British and Irish Lions have selected nine Ireland internationals as part of their 37-man squad for this summer’s tour of Hong Kong and Australia. Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien will also be on the plane. Wales star Sam Warburton has been named captain. The Lions open the 10-match tour against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1 before heading to Australia, with the first of three Tests against the Wallabies in Brisbane on June 22. Head coach Warren Gatland admitted the selection process had been tough, saying: “There was a robust debate about the squad and there were healthy discussions for every position. “Some real quality players have missed out. We had a thorough process and it’s been tough.” He did offer hope to those left out, however, saying: “If you look at previous tours six to eight players get injured and there will be a group of back-up players who can be called upon.” Lions squad: L Halfpenny, S Hogg, R Kearney, G North, A Cuthbert, T Bowe, S Maitland, B O’Driscoll, M Tuilagi, J Roberts, J Davies, J Sexton, O Farrell, C Murray, M Phillips, B Youngs, G Jenkins, C Healy, M Vunipola, A Jones, D Cole, M Stevens, D Hartley, R Hibbard, T Youngs, I Evans, R Gray, AW Jones, P O’Connell, G Parling, T Croft, T Faletau, J Heaslip, D Lydiate, S O’Brien, J Tipuric, S Warburton (capt). Centre Brian O’Driscoll, who is on his fourth successive Lions tour, and 2009 captain Paul O’Connell have both made the travelling party. There are also opportunities for a new generation of Lions, players such as prop Cian Healy, while Jonathan Sexton got the nod for one of the two fly-half berths alongside England’s Owen Farrell. center_img Press Associationlast_img

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