Warren Gatland includes nine Irish players in 2022 Lions starting XV

Warren Gatland has included nine Irish players in his 2022-based British and Irish Lions starting squad.

Gatland took charge of the Lions for the third time during last year’s tour of South Africa and tried again to select a matchday side a year after the Test series against the Springboks.

The New Zealander offered a radically different selection to the one he went with last year, with nine Irish players selected in his starting squad, compared to the three who started in the first Test against the Springboks.

Three-time Lions head coach Gatland selected his hypothetical matchday squad in The Telegraph and included Johnny Sexton at half-time, while questioning whether he had made the right decision in excluding the Irish captain of last year’s team.

Johnny Sexton chose to start at halftime.

“Quite simply, he earned the right to be there, even at the age of 37. I think Marcus Smith is something special but if I want to win a game next week, Johnny has to start,” said wrote Gatland.

“You can’t take away the impact he’s had over the last year. In South Africa I was concerned about his injury record and whether he could make it through the tour, and I’m still probably wondering if it was the right decision to leave him at home.

In total, Gatland selected 10 players on their 23rd matchday who weren’t included in their Lions squad last year, while Andrew Porter also made the cut, having pulled out of the tour in due to injury.

Gatland have factored in current injuries, with Ireland’s Ronan Kelleher and Wales’ Ken Owens omitted due to being unavailable for the summer tours of their respective countries.

Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions Match Day Team in 2022.

15. Freddie Steward (England)
14. Josh Adams (Wales)
13. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
12. Owen Farrell (England)
11. James Lowe (Ireland)
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland)
8. Caelan Doris (Ireland)
7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
6. Courtney Lawes (England)
5. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
4. James Ryan (Ireland)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
2. Jamie George (England)
1. Ellis Genge (England)

Substitutes.

16. Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
17. Andrew Porter (Ireland)
18. Zander Fagerson (Scotland)
19. Maro Itoje (England)
20. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
21. Ali Price (Scotland)
22. Marcus Smith (England)
23. Jack Nowell (England)

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Charles P. Patton