Lions squad: Every member of the 2021 South Africa tour for the British and Irish rugby team

Warren Gatland has named a 37-man squad for the tour to South Africa

British & Irish Lions captain for the 2021 Tour to South Africa, Alun Wyn Jones. Pic: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
British & Irish Lions captain for the 2021 Tour to South Africa, Alun Wyn Jones. Pic: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has named a 37-man squad to tour South Africa for the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series.

Gatland announced his selections, which include naming Welsh legend Alun Wyn Jones as captain.

There are a number of notable exclusions, including Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, but Gatland is confident he has got the right mix for the tour.

British and Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland. Pic: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa," said Gatland.

"Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today."

Who are the bolters? Who are the surprise picks?

Sam Simmonds, the Exeter number eight and current European player of the year, has been picked by Gatland despite being consistently overlooked by England since winning the last of his seven caps in 2018.

Jason Leonard, Chairman of the British and Irish Lions, announces captain Alun Wyn Jones of Wales into the squad. Pic: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

He is joined by fellow bolters and centres Bundee Aki of Ireland and Scotland’s Chris Harris, with Manu Tuilagi left out as he approaches his comeback from an Achilles injury.

Who has been left out of the Lions 2021 squad?

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton is among several high-profile omissions.

He was unable to force his way into the 37-man squad announced by Gatland, as are Jonathan Davies, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola and Josh Navidi.

Sexton finished the Six Nations strongly but has suffered ongoing concussion problems since.

Davies was expected to travel to South Africa, especially after Wales team-mate George North was ruled out by a knee injury, but in a surprise move Aki and Harris are preferred.

Another of Wayne Pivac’s Six Nations champions in Navidi has failed to win a place in the ferociously competitive back-row positions, but Jack Conan of Ireland is present.

Underhill missed the Six Nations because of a hip injury but his stopping power in defence was thought to be enough to secure his spot, while Vunipola has paid the price for his poor form.

Who is in the Lions squad? Every member of the 2021 team

Backs (16):

Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) – Wing

Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) – Centre

Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) – Fly-half

Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) – Centre

Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) – Scrum-half

Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) – Fly-half

Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) – Centre

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Centre

Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) – Full-back

Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) – Scrum-half

Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – Scrum-half

Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) – Wing

Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) – Fly-half

Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Wing

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) – Wing

Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) – Full-back

Forwards (21):

Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) – Second row

Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Back row

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Hooker

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) – Back row

Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – Prop

Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) – Back row

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Prop

Jamie George (Saracens, England) – Hooker

Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) – Second row

Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Second row

Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) – Second row

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) (Captain) – Second row

Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) – Prop

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) – Second row

Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) – Hooker

Andrew Porter (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Prop

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Back row

Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Prop

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales) – Back row

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) – Prop

Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Back row

What else has Warren Gatland had to say?

Gatland added: "Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in.

"Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position. We saw some outstanding performances in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.

"However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the World Champions.

"We've left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.

“To those players that have been selected, congratulations. I know it’s going to be challenging for a number of aspects. I just hope firstly that they thoroughly enjoy the tour and represent their four home nations the best they possibly can.”

On naming 37 players rather than the expected 36, Gatland said: “Particularly looking at our loose forwards, and the attrition, getting an extra number there is a bit of a back-up. We wanted to keep the numbers down but a 37-man squad was something we looked at yesterday.”

On taking on South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus, Gatland said: “They’ve got a great coach and what they achieved in the World Cup was outstanding.

“They’re going to be incredibly tough. We know how physical they can be and we saw that in the World Cup final but we’ve got to be able to roll up our sleeves and hopefully match that physicality but also be really positive in the way we want to play.

“We’ve got some exciting players. And hopefully get that balance right between the tough work but also playing some great rugby.”