The British and Irish Lions return to New Zealand for the first time in 12 years in June, but before the tour kicks off, all eyes are on coach Warren Gatland and who he picks to make the trip. Join The Roar from 9pm (AEST) for all the live squad announcements.
With England fresh off a record-equaling winning streak, Ireland proving to be world beaters in recent times and a renewed Scottish line-up that surprised most during the Six Nations, this year’s tour will be looking at one of the strongest sides in recent memory.
Welsh flanker Sam Warburton is lining up to be named captain again, having become the youngest Lions skipper ever when he was given the job for the 2013 tour of Australia at just 24 years of age.
Despite early calls for an English-dominated squad coming off the back of two Six Nations titles and a run of 18 Test wins on the trot, there will likely be a handful of big name absentees from the final cut.
Dylan Hartley is set to be chief among them, likely to become the third English skipper in a row to miss the Lions tour, joining Chris Robshaw in 2013 and Steve Borthwick in 2009.
Fellow countrymen George Ford, Mike Brown and Jonathan Joseph, who made up one of the deadliest backlines of the last five years and looked to be shoe-ins for the side, now look to be on the outer and are rumoured to be missing the plane.
In terms of distribution, the aforementioned English dominance looks to have been pushed aside, with Wales surprisingly popping up with big numbers in the squad.
It’s expected the Welsh contingency will crack double figures, with the aforementioned Warburton to be joined by the likes of goal-kicking machine Leigh Halfpenny, veteran Alun Wyn Jones, outside back George North and, rather surprisingly, Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts, who has only been able to manage a bench spot for Wales in 2017.
It’s not looking all too good for Scotland though, with Stuart Hogg looking like the only addition to the Lions side at fullback. Hogg has been named the player of the tournament the last two years in a row in the Six Nations and currently sits as one of the best 15s in the game right now.
The battle for flyhalf is still up in the air. Ireland’s Johnny Sexton is a near certainty to take on his second Lions tour and is favourite to snag the No. 10 jersey.
New Zealand hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Lions, winning just a single Test series against the Kiwis in the 113 years since they first met.
That sole victory came 46 years ago, dating back to 1971 when they famously held on for a 14-all draw in the fourth Test to take the series 2-1.
Join The Roar from 9pm (AEST) for all the live squad announcements and updates, and you’ll be able to live stream the announcement in the video player below.