Rugby

These Are The Ireland Players Who Should Start The First Lions Test

These Are The Ireland Players Who Should Start The First Lions Test

The end of the 2021 Six Nations means we can properly look ahead to the 2021 Lions tour in earnest. We don't know where the matches will take place, but we know they will happen somewhere. It was an up-and-down Six Nations for Ireland that ended on an ecstatic high. A number of Irish players have definitely laid down markers for the summer.

Here are the Irish players we think deserve to make the first Lions Test twenty-three based on the evidence of the past seven weeks of rugby.

First Test Starting XV

Tadhg Beirne:Β Finally, finally, Tadhg Beirne has had his moment in the sun in the Ireland shirt. Beirne has wrestled the Man of the Match award from CJ Stander and produced five brilliant games in a green shirt. His versatility means he's a nailed-on starter.

Robbie Henshaw: The Athlone man - intense all winter - was at his menacing best in the first half of the England game. He didn't just cement his place as the best inside centre in the Northern Hemisphere, he put his hand up to be Lions captain. The beard has done him wonders.

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Tadhg Furlong:Β the extended break has served the Wexford man well. He's got miles on the clock, but on the evidence of this Six Nations, he's still the form tight head in the Northern Hemisphere.

And most worrying for South Africa, the hunger is still there.

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Johnny Sexton: Β This remains Gatland's most fascinating selection dilemma. We'll put it like this: we think Johnny Sexton is the best outhalf of all the contenders for the number 10 shirt. However, we are not so sure will Warren Gatland start an injury-prone 35-year-old in a Lions test. However, Sexton kicked 22 points today and given Finn Russell's poor form with the boot and Owen Farrell's poor form in general, Sexton remains the class of the British and Irish outhalves. Sexton had a brilliant tournament. The penalty against Scotland to win the game was genius.

On the fringes of the match day squad

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Iain Henderson:Β The Ulster captain has been a rock for Ireland in this Six Nations. It's arguably been his best Six Nations in a green shirt. Given that Itoje will likely captain the team, Beirne is inΒ  the form of his life and Alun Wyn Jones is immortal, Henderson will have a lot of work to do to crack the starting XV. But he'll be within a shout.

In the mix

There were 11 Ireland players in the Lions team in 2017 and we imagine there will be at least another five or six Irish players added onto to the above list.Β  We're fairly certain CJ Stander and James Ryan will have some involvement in this tour. We're interested to see how the likes of Conor Murray, Jacob Stockdale, Hugo Keenan and Will Connors finish the season. The likes of Ryan Baird and Caelan Doris could be dark horses depending on form.

SEE ALSO: Emotional CJ Stander Proved Just How Much Playing For Ireland Meant To Him

Donny Mahoney
Article written by
Donny Mahoney is Chief Sportswriter and one of the founders of Balls.ie

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