Martin Johnson, 23, made his debut for the British and Irish Lions after just one selection to England.
Jeremy Guscott’s first try came in Lions red rather than England white.
Keith Earls was just 21, with two Irish caps under his belt, when he toured South Africa in 2009, while league converts John Bentley and Jason Robinson came from left field to illuminate the Lions tours in 1997 and 2001 respectively.
Who could be a surprise selection – or a bolter – when Warren Gatland selects the Lions Class of 2021 on Thursday?
European player of the year. Best Premiership try scorer. A key cog in Exeter’s double-winning team. But apparently not good enough to add to his last hat in England in 2018.
Simmonds ‘omission from Eddie Jones’ plans has become one of the most trusted talking points in English rugby. Could Gatland take a different point of view?
Simmonds, 16th 2 pounds and 6 feet tall, is not a very tall back row. But it’s compact enough to stand up in breakdowns that taller men can’t. And he has pace to burn.
The most vivid example was the November victory over the Harlequins, when Simmonds drilled a hole halfway through, swerved out from the full-back and celebrated his score with a shrug of nonchalant shoulders.
On firm South African ground, with a point to prove, could he be an ace in the hole for the Lions?
The 25-year-old scrum-half has only made three test starts for Wales but he might have been the man in possession of the Wales new jersey but due to a hamstring injury untimely during a superb scoring attempt against England.
Scrum half Scarlets is a quick and smart runner with a nose for a gap in the bangs defense.
Selection to the British and Irish Lions would cap a remarkable increase. Less than four years ago, Hardy was playing in England’s second tier league as he struggled to buy time ahead of Scarlets teammate Gareth Davies.
Ben Youngs’ decision to withdraw from the exam as the tour could leave the Lions coaches less well endowed than expected at nine o’clock as well.
Care admits the prospect of him being in contention for the Lions tour early in the season seemed laughable.
The Harlequins scrum-half won the last of his 84 England caps against Japan in November 2018.
But since the start of the year and a change of head coach at Quins, Care has rediscovered the best form of his career.
The 34-year-old specialized in the role of ‘finisher’ during the latter part of his England career, stretching the game and rushing through the holes as players tired and space sank. ‘opened.
Could Gatland imagine a similar role in his last chance to tour with the Lions?
Another scrum-half, another man who found himself in the international cold.
Cooney has struggled to convince both Joe Schmidt and, now, Andy Farrell that he is worth more than the occasional cameo off the bench for Ireland.
But he was Ulster’s star man in early 2020 and, after a brief dip after lockdown, has returned to that form in recent weeks.
Lions coaches Gregor Townsend and Steve Tandy were on hand at Welford Road on Friday night to watch Ulster lose control of their European Challenge Cup semi-final after Cooney left with a header at the start of the second period.
In addition to the support lines, pace and astute footballing ability, Cooney is also a reliable goal kicker.
It would be left field, but center is one of the areas – along with the scrum half – where there are places up for grabs.
Cameron Redpath has only made one international appearance. But what appearance it was.
The 21-year-old center went through Scotland’s first victory at Twickenham in 38 years, making the transition to the test arena effortless.
He was barred from playing another Six Nations role due to a neck injury, but recently made his return to the Bath club, where his agility and pace make him feel like he’s still in space.
His father Bryan won 60 caps for Scotland as a scrum-half, but never toured with the Lions.
Out of sight out of mind?
During the last weekend before the Lions selection, Simon Zebo did everything to get the attention of the Lions selectors.
Playing in the Parisian club derby, the 31-year-old Irishman sliced between two Stade Français defenders before launching a sublime unloading on the back of his hand to send Teddy Thomas to the corner.
Zebo can play from the back and the wing, was a popular tourist when called up for the 2013 trip to Australia and connects well on and off the pitch with Racing 92 teammate Finn Russell, who seems to be certain to make the 2021 trip.
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