Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Hartley not in Gatland's Lions squad

Hartley not in Gatland's Lions squad

Wasps have said they are "gobsmacked" after lock Joe Launchbury was a surprise omission from the British and Lions squad for this summer's tour of New Zealand.

Payne, the Ireland utility back, and Te'o, who has played just eight tests in England's midfield - seven off the bench - were surprise selections in Warren Gatland's squad but Kiwi-born compatriot Dylan Hartley, the England captain was omitted. He was born in Wellington in 1991 but moved to the United Kingdom at a young age.

The squad was heavy on power in both the forwards and at centre, a sign of the approach the Lions are expected to take under Gatland for what is set to be a grueling tour featuring 10 matches and culminating in a three-tests series. The 24-year-old expressed his shock with a simple tweet that said: "Wow".

A match-up against the reigning World Champions in New Zealand‚ coupled with a string of tough midweek matches makes this the toughest Lions tour of all time.

"New Zealand are the only team I haven't beaten yet in my global career and it's something I'd love to do", said Warburton after the squad was announced.

"You don't get too many shocks these days with things". It's certainly come out of the blue for me.

Equally at home at centre or fullback and also capable of covering wing, Payne has won 20 test caps since 2014 after meeting the residency requirements to play for Ireland.

Yet there are some significant absentees, the most notable of which sees their captain Hartley overlooked in favour of his global understudy Jamie George, who travels as one of three hookers alongside Rory Best and Ken Owens despite never having started a Test.

Warburton - the 2013 skipper for the tour of Australia - will be the second player to captain the Lions twice, after Martin Johnson (1997, 2001).

The gaffe happened when a photograph emerged of Warburton in full Lions kit posing with tour officials.

Jim Telfer has insisted Scottish rugby fans are right to feel "aggrieved and disillusioned" after Warren Gatland named just two Scots in his 41-man Lions squad.

Former England World Cup victor Mike Catt and England prop Matt Stevens were the other SA born Lions of the modern era.

Although Biggar is eager to stake his claim for a starting place in the Lions' team for the first Test against New Zealand in June, he is also looking forward to sampling the famed camaraderie of the touring party.

Seventeen of the 2017 squad toured Australia four years ago.

Welsh teammates Wyn Jones and Leigh Halfpenny will be making their third successive Lions tour since 2009.

Six Nations champions England supply 16 players, Wales 12 and Ireland 11 with outside backs Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour Scotland's sole representatives.

Midfielders: Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Jonathan Joseph, Ben Te'o (England).

Back-rowers: Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty, Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony, CJ Stander, Justin Tipuric, Billy Vunipola, Sam Warburton (c).

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