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Telegraph Name 9 Irishmen In Their Insanely Early 2021 Lions Squad

Telegraph Name 9 Irishmen In Their Insanely Early 2021 Lions Squad
By Mikey Traynor

The 2017 Lions Tour of New Zealand is only just done and dusted, and already thoughts are being turned towards the next series against South Africa in 2021.

Perhaps is a testament as to how enjoyable this summer has been with some excellent rugby on show, but the Telegraph are already thinking long into the future and have picked a 41 squad that they predict to have the best chance of making the squad when it comes around.

Nine Irish players made the cut, with Jack McGrath, Tadhg Furlong, Conor Murray, and Robbie Henshaw understandably being tipped for another tour, which leaves 5 of our lads who would be making their Lions debuts.

Here is the list in full.

Forwards:
Rob Evans (Wales)
Jack McGrath (Ireland)
Mako Vunipola (England)
Jamie George (England)
Niall Scannell (Ireland)
Ryan Elias (Wales)
Zander Ferguson (Scotland)
Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
Kyle Sinckler (England)
Maro Itoje (England)
Jonny Gray (England)
Joe Launchbury (England)
Courtney Lawes (England)
James Ryan (Ireland)
Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
Zach Mercer (England)
Ross Moriarty (Wales)
Sam Underhill (England)
Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
Billy Vunipola (England)
Sam Warburton (Wales)
Hamish Watson (Scotland)

Backs:
Conor Murray (Ireland)
Ali Price (Scotland)
Tomos Williams (Scotland)
Owen Farrell (England)
George Ford (England)
Finn Russell (Scotland)
Jonathan Davies (Wales)
Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
Harry Mallinder (England)
Joe Marchant (England)
Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
Joey Carbery (Ireland)
Joe Cokanasiga (England)
Elliot Daly (England)
Steff Evans (Wales)
Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Jack Nowell (England)
Anthony Watson (England)
Liam Williams (Wales)

Needs more Conan.

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Here is what the Telegraph writers had to say about each of the young players that got the nod:

Niall Scannell

With Ken Owens 30 and Rory Best 34, it is a safe bet that some fresh faces will make up the contingent of hookers. Munsterman Scannell has seven caps and is beginning to assert himself in Joe Schmidt's set-up.

James Ryan

A bolter to get on the plane to South Africa. However, with two Test caps already for Ireland at just 20, Ryan's maturity and muscle would make him an ideal Lion. He made the ascent from Ireland Under 20 captain to the senior squad in a year, so four years to becoming a Lion should not be to much of a push for the focused Leinsterman.

Josh van der Flier

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A nuisance at ruck time, a tenacious tackler and known for his work ethic, Van der Flier has also shown he has a fearless streak following his gutsy performance as an early replacement for Ireland against the All Blacks in Chicago. The Leinster openside already has nine Test caps, so his age and experience levels should be spot on come 2021.

Garry Ringrose

So close to making the cut in 2017, Ringrose will be an improved product when the South Africa tour rolls around. He is outstanding in a number of facets and keeps a low error count while offering a sharp attacking edge.

Joey Carbery

Burst onto the scene last season with his show-stealing performance in Ireland’s win over the All Blacks, and went on to impress for Leinster in the PRO12 and Champions Cup. Covers full-back and fly-half and the Auckland-born player could be a fixture in the Ireland side by 2021.

It's a decent list, and one that would have been difficult to compile not least for the knowledge that you are leaving yourself open to being mocked in the future if some predictions turn out to be well off the mark.

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It's clear that James Ryan has already made a big impression which is good to see, but hopefully we see a few more talents emerge and get that number higher than nine before whoever is selected as Lions head coach starts filling up the seats on the plane.

You can read the reasoning behind the picks in full over on Telegraph.co.uk.

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