Monye & Jones’ Lions selection summit

Manu Tuilagi, Finn Russell and Josh Navidi have been all factors of competition as Rugby Union Weekly tried to select their 36-man Lions squad
Date: Thursday, 6 May Time: Time: 12:00 BST
Coverage: Live textual content commentary on the BBC Sport web site

The goal was to debate, rethink, compromise and eventually produce one definitive 36-man squad.

It did not work out like that.

Instead 2009 British and Irish Lion Ugo Monye and Rugby Union Weekly co-presenter Chris Jones agreed to disagree over their picks to tour South Africa this summer season.

These are the controversial calls, left-field shouts and unreconcilable variations that made up their selection assembly on this week’s episode.

And for the actual factor, be part of us from 11:45 BST on Thursday for dwell textual content protection of the announcement of the British and Irish Lions squad and captain for 2021.

Back three

(variations in opinion marked in daring)

Ugo: Louis Rees-Zammit (Wal), Anthony Watson (Eng), Stuart Hogg (Sco), Liam Williams (Wal), Josh Adams (Wal), Jack Nowell (Eng)

Chris: Louis Rees-Zammit (Wal), Anthony Watson (Eng), Stuart Hogg (Sco), Liam Williams (Wal), Josh Adams (Wal), Jonny May (Eng)

Ugo: “I feel guilty about this pick. Jonny May was a world XV pick last year and not much has changed in 2021 apart from England and Gloucester struggling.

Jack Nowell
Nowell got here off the bench within the second and third Tests in New Zealand 4 years in the past

“Nowell has solely performed 100 minutes of rugby for the reason that Premiership last in October as he comes again from damage, however Gatland loves him.

“Nowell is a good team player, a good squad man and, with his appetite for work and strength over the ball, he brings something different.”

Chris: “I believe that Jonny May has come on a lot as a participant, you need him there. In November he scored that superb length of-the-field try against Ireland. You cannot inform me that a lot has modified.”


Ugo: Robbie Henshaw (Ire), Manu Tuilagi (Eng), Henry Slade (Eng), Garry Ringrose (Ire)

Chris: Robbie Henshaw (Ire), Jonathan Davies (Wal), Henry Slade (Eng), Garry Ringrose (Ire)

Ugo: “Tuilagi is only just coming back from a long-term injury but on his day he is one of the world’s best, a big point of difference and, against the world champions, that quality could be invaluable.”

Chris: “Part of me does want to select Tuilagi because there is a long time to prove fitness between the squad announcement on Thursday and the tour opener against the Stormers on 3 July.

“Without the injured George North as properly, I realise I could be wanting energy in my midfield selection.

“But I think it would be a big gamble to pick a player who has suffered with injuries in the past and has been sidelined since September.”

Ugo: “You need to have Slade to give you a kicking option. Owen Farrell could, but if he is touring as a fly-half then then you need Slade to bring that dimension.”


Ugo: Dan Biggar (Wal), Owen Farrell (Eng), Marcus Smith (Eng)

Chris: Dan Biggar (Wal), Owen Farrell (Eng), Finn Russell (Sco)

Ugo: “People will be screaming at me for this, but if Biggar and Farrell are your Test fly-halves, your third fly-half has to be very different to the other two.

Marcus Smith
Marcus Smith can be the primary uncapped participant to tour with the British and Irish Lions since Will Greenwood in 1997

“You want a third-choice 10 who accepts that position. Smith can be over the moon to tour, has power and vitality that may reverberate across the squad and will be the fulcrum of the midweek facet.

“People are free to agree, disagree, be angry, but that is the thinking.”

Chris: “In terms of a Lions squad that goes down well with Scotland fans, Finn Russell being overlooked for an uncapped Marcus Smith would go down like an unsavoury sandwich.

“I might be shocked if Russell would not go.

“We have got to talk about the fact that neither of us are taking Johnny Sexton – a modern great, the Ireland captain, the starting 10 for the second and third Tests in New Zealand four years ago.

“My pondering is nearly health and sturdiness of a participant who will flip 36 throughout the tour.

“He has had three failed head injury assessments since February.”


Ugo: Conor Murray (Ire), Gareth Davies (Wal), Danny Care (Eng)

Chris: Conor Murray (Ire), Tomos Williams (Wal), Danny Care (Eng)

Ugo: “Faf de Klerk is a real heartbeat for South Africa, and Gareth Davies is a physical, energetic nine who can get at his opposite number.

“I believe he can be an unbelievable match-up to tackle De Klerk.

Chris: “With [co-presenter of Rugby Union Weekly] Danny, I don’t think it is blind faith in a pal. There are legitimate reasons why he gets on the plane: he offers something different off the bench, he’s in good form, he’s in a good place mentally, he’s got loads of experience.

“He can even have the respect of the squad and be a great vacationer. I do not assume that may be a trite factor to say in 2021. In this ‘bubble’ atmosphere it’s extra essential than ever.”

Loose-head prop

Ugo: Wyn Jones (Wal), Mako Vunipola (Eng), Cian Healy (Ire)

Chris: Wyn Jones (Wal), Mako Vunipola (Eng), Rory Sutherland (Sco)

Chris: “Sutherland is round 4 weeks away from health with a shoulder damage. If he can show his health, I might take him. If not, I’d take Healy.

Rory Sutherland
Sutherland is a type of hoping to extend Scotland’s illustration after solely two of his countrymen made the preliminary squad in 2017

“I think with Jones, Vunipola and Healy (29, 30 and 33 respectively) you are short a little bit of dynamism and that trio are ticking up in terms of age compared to 27-year-old Sutherland.”


Both: Luke Cowan Dickie (Eng), Jamie George (Eng), Ken Owens (Wal)

Tight-head prop

Both: Kyle Sinckler (Eng), Tadhg Furlong (Ire), Zander Fagerson (Sco)

Second row

Both: Maro Itoje (Eng), James Ryan (Ire), Alun Wyn Jones (Wal), Tadhg Beirne (Ire)

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Ugo: Tom Curry (Eng), Hamish Watson (Sco), Justin Tipuric (Wal), Aaron Wainwright (Wal), Jamie Ritchie (Sco)

Chris: Tom Curry (Eng), Hamish Watson (Sco), Justin Tipuric (Wal), Josh Navidi (Wal), Sam Underhill (Eng)

Ugo: “I think Wainwright has a bit of X-factor. He could be world class. I like his match-up with Pieter-Steph du Toit and he brings extra height and a jumping option in the line-out as well.

Aaron Wainwright
Wainwright, seen here scoring against France in the quarter-final, was a key man for Wales in the 2019 World Cup, but has struggled for a regular starting place since

“Ritchie is simply sensible. Curry and Watson are two gamers in a selected mould however Ritchie is a unique kind of participant as I search for stability and alternative ways of working.”

Chris: “I do not assume that Wainwright has performed sufficient on the highest degree not too long ago to go forward of Navidi, who was in nice type within the Six Nations.

“I thought Jamie Ritchie was terrific in the Six Nations, especially in that win away against France on the final day. I really like him, but I wouldn’t be comfortable boarding that plane without Underhill.

“I believe towards South Africa, you want Underhill to be chopping down these huge runners.”

Number eight

Ugo: Taulupe Faletau (Wal), Sam Simmonds (Eng)

Chris: Taulupe Faletau (Wal), Billy Vunipola (Eng)

Ugo: “I do not assume both the Lions or South Africa have a participant like Simmonds. He adjustments the dynamic of the way you play. He is lightning fast. I might like to see him in a contemporary pair of mouldies on a tough monitor in South Africa.

“He is a harmful man, a degree of distinction.

26 June Japan (Murrayfield, Edinburgh)
3 July Stormers
7 July South Africa Invitational
10 July Sharks
14 July South Africa A
17 July Bulls
24 July South Africa
31 July South Africa
7 August South Africa

“As good a participant as Vunipola is, within the final 18 months or two years, towards huge bodily packs, he hasn’t performed the issues we all know he can.”

Chris: “I believe you go to South Africa with out Vunipola’s energy at your peril.

“We probably have not seen a fully rampaging, barnstorming Vunipola for a while, so he is my reputation pick.

“I’m not saying he needs to be a Test starter, however I need him as an choice.”

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