Sport Care and Simmonds 'emerge as shock potential picks for Lions squad'
Sportsmail debates big issues facing Gatland before naming Lions squad
Warren Gatland is set to take a 36-man British and Irish Lions squad to South Africa for five warm-up matches before three Tests against the world champions this summer.Here, Sportsmail's Sir Clive Woodward, Andy Nicol, Geordan Murphy and Mike Phillips debate the issues that Warren Gatland will be pondering over ahead of Thursday's announcement.
Four English players currently exiled from' national team have emerged as shock potential picks for the Lions squad for the tour of this summer.
In-form Harlequins duo Marcus Smith and Danny Care are being considered for selection by head coach Warren Gatland ahead of Thursday's squad announcement.
In addition, Exeter number eight Sam Simmonds and Bath scrum-half Ben Spencer could also be picked for the upcoming tour, according to, with Gatland expected to pick a 36-man squad in two days time.
The most high-profile inclusion would be Quins number nine Care, who has 84 caps for England but has not featured since 2018.
Lions boss Gatland says 'durability' fears key to Sexton's omission
Warren Gatland said concerns over Johnny Sexton's "durability" lay behind one of his "toughest decisions" in omitting the veteran fly-half from the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa. "It was one of the toughest decisions we had to make," Gatland told reporters.Ireland captain Sexton was the most high-profile absentee from the 37-man squad unveiled by Lions boss Gatland on Thursday, with the New Zealander opting for Wales' Dan Biggar, England's Owen Farrell and Scotland's Finn Russell as his three No 10s for the July-August campaign.
The 34-year-old missed out on selection for the 2019 Rugby World Cup but has rediscovered some excellent form for his club, who are currently fourth in the Premiership.
His chances of selection have been boosted in recent weeks after England's first-choice scrum-half Ben Youngs ruled himself out of the Lions tour for family reasons.
Similarly Spencer - who has four caps for his country and appeared from the bench in the 2019 World Cup final - could be an alternative scrum-half option given Youngs' decision.
Meanwhile, dynamic forward Simmonds, 26, has had a brilliant few years for the all-conquering Chiefs and was named European Player of the Year last season.
However despite his excellent form, the last of his seven caps came in 2018, despite much clamour for his selection given England's disappointing Six Nations campaign.
Kyle Sinckler opens up on heartbreak of missing out on Lions selection
Lions coach, Warren Gatland, decided to leave Kyle Sinckler out of his 37-man squad for this summer's tour of South Africa. The decision has left Sinckler feeling emotional and angry.The prop was a shock omission from Warren Gatland’s Lions squad to tour South Africa when it was revealed on Thursday, and the 28-year-old tapped into his disappointment as Bears notched up a 40-20 win after being down at half-time with Sinckler dominating the scrum.
The final potential surprise pick is 22-year-old Quins number 10 Smith, who is uncapped but has featured in England training squads as an 'apprentice' in the past.
His partnership with Care at Quins has seen him flourish this season, but his selection by Gatland would be a shock given the experience of players such as Owen Farrell, Jonathan Sexton, Dan Biggar and Finn Russell at fly-half.
Gatland's squad will face three Test matches against the world champion Springboks this summer in a tour encompassing eight matches in total and a warm-up against Japan in Edinburgh.
Who will make the final Lions squad? .
The various articles on everyone selecting their squads and XVs for the British and Irish Lions has been entertaining and extremely insightful. Sadly, this gossip will all come to an end when Warren Gatland names his trimmed 36-man squad on Thursday, May 6. Given that this weekend saw the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup and Heineken Cup, no further game of rugby in the northern hemisphere will be able to dictate players’ credibility for selection.