Gatland’s Lions to streamline squad for SA tour

Warren Gatland will select just 36 players when he officially announces his British & Irish Lions squad for the tour of South Africa on 6 May.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Gatland, who is set to take charge of his third successive Lions tour, will select just 36 players in his squad, making it the thinnest Lions in terms of player numbers of the 21st century.

Gatland’s Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand in 2017 featured 41 players, while the tour of Australia in 2013 had 37 men.

With player numbers limited, this could mean that Gatland places an emphasis on utility players who are able to play in multiple positions, while there won’t likely be much room for young bolters who have yet to play Test rugby.

The likes of Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne, who can all double at lock and flank as well as Elliot Daly and George North, who can play in the back three and in midfield, could be seen as useful in this regard.

This also suggests that the Lions will have the ability to call in any injury replacements if needed during the tour.

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