The day is finally here: Warren Gatland will name his squad for the Irish and British Lions tour of New Zealand, after months of speculation. We've had months of every single rugby performance in Ireland and Britain being viewed through the prism of Lions selection, and the potential bestowing of what is peddled as the greatest honour in rugby.
While inclusion in the Lions squad is undoubtedly a huge honour, the sheer thrust and physicality of the games often mean that a few lads get call-ups out of nowhere. As useful as playing outstanding rugby at European and international level for the six months preceding the tour is to your chances of getting a call-up, often a well-planned holiday can be just as fruitful.
So, on this, the most regal of days in rugby, we remember some of the most surprising Lions tourists of recent memory.
Surprising Lions Tourists
Ollie Smith (2005)
So disastrous was the last trip to New Zealand, the entire future of the Lions was called into question. Clive Woodward's enormous squad and staff proved to be a farce, with the inclusion of Alistair Campbell for PR reasons one of the lowest moments in Lions history. Such was the size of the squad - 44 players were included by Woodward - there were a few surprise inclusions. One of the most random lads ever called up to a Lions tour was Ollie Smith, who toured with Woodward's squad.
Smith was a centre, and made five appearances for England before a knee injury forced his retirement in 2010. At the time of the Lions call-up, Smith had made just one start for England, so his call-up was startling. Smith played once on the tour, in a midweek game against Manawatu Turbos, in which he scored one of the Lions 17 tries in a facile win.
Andy Titterrell (2005)
Titterrel another surprise inclusion on the ill-fated trip to New Zealand under Woodward. The hooker was selected by Woodward despite making just two appearances for England, both off the bench, against New Zealand and Canada.
Like Smith, he got the chance to shoot some Manawatu fish in a barrel.
Riki Flutey (2009)
Flutey will forever own a bit of rugby history: he is the only man to play for and against the Lions. Flutey played against the Lions with the New Zealand Maori in 2005, and in the years before the next Lions tour, he joined London Irish and declared for England under the residency rule ahead of the 2008/09 season. A fine Six Nations campaign for England followed, in which he ended as the tournament's joint-highest try scorer.
Ian McGeechan included him in the 2009 touring squad to South Africa, and made one appearance, in the third and final test. Flutey deserved his selection, but is included here for that odd quirk of fate.
Shane Williams (2013)
Williams certainly deserved his place on earlier tours, but his involvement four years ago was bizarre. With Gatland's back line decimated by injury ahead of the first test (Jamie Roberts, Tommy Bowe, George North and Manu Tuilagi were all out), Gatland called in a raft of players, including Christian Wade, Brad Barritt...and Williams. By this stage, Williams was 36 and was playing club rugby in Japan, but was in Brisbane to work as a commentator with TalkSPORT. With a dearth of bodies available for a midweek game with the Brumbies, Gatland decided to hand a late call-up to Williams, citing his proximity to the camp.
It didn't work: Williams played in what proved to be the Lions first defeat on the tour, as they went down 14-12.
Tom Court (2013)
The Ulster prop had long since dropped down the pecking order at international level with Ireland by the time of his Lions call-up on the most recent tour. He had endured an utter nightmare at Twickenham, as Ireland's scrum was demolished with Court forced to play at tighthead in the absence of the injured Mike Ross. Fortune shone on Court with the Lions, however: he was holidaying in Australia, the country of his birth, when Gatland drafted him in at the last minute as cover for the injured Alex Corbisiero.
Court ultimately came off the bench to play 25 minutes against the Melbourne Rebels. Court became the 806th player to play for the Lions, and, glowing with pride afterward, said "I think 806 might be my new favourite number".