British & Irish Lions tour 2017: Hogg eager for starting place

British & Irish Lions tour 2017: Hogg eager for starting place

"It wasn't the leadership and competitiveness - obviously Dylan Hartley has done a great job in terms of that for England - but if we picked Dylan and left out Jamie or Rory or Ken, we'd be asking the same questions".

Former Queensland State of Origin forward Ben Te'o has completed a remarkable transition to rugby union by being named in the British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand. Jamie George - his understudy with England - was preferred, along with fellow hookers Ken Owens and Rory Best.

Ross Moriarty, impressive at number eight for Wales in the Six Nations, said he was "shocked and delighted" to be selected, while Ireland's New Zealand-born utility back Jared Payne was another unexpected inclusion. Our advantage is we play with that expectation all the time.

If there was heartache for Hartley, there was set to be uproar in Scotland.

"They'll be expected to win this series, one of the best Lions teams for a long, long time".

"We need someone like him who is a strong ball carrier". Jones, who captained the Lions in the third Test in 2013, is also among the locks.

In fact, the Lions have won just one Test series against the All Blacks in 11 tours - a 2-1 triumph in 1971.

Johnson filled the role in South Africa 20 years ago and for the 2001 trip to Australia, with Warburton now matching his feat when the Lions head to New Zealand next month, having led them Down Under in 2013.

Warburton, who was Gatland's captain for Wales from 2011-16, found out he was being retained in the role when he got a phone call from Gatland as he sat in his auto at a supermarket waiting for his girlfriend to return with the shopping.

"I found out last Thursday", Warburton said.

"I think the fact that me and Tommy are going is down to our team-mates, whether that's at Glasgow or Scotland", Hogg said yesterday.

Wales flanker Warburton, the Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray and the Wales second row Alun Wyn Jones are all now out of action with respective knee, neck and shoulder problems.

Joseph was thought to have missed out due to Gatland's preference for the muscular gainline threat in midfield that has earned Ben Te'o, Robbie Henshaw and Jonathan Davies selection for the 10-fixture tour that culminates in three Tests against the All Blacks.

Gatland has already sought to apply some pressure on the hosts by suggesting flyhalf Beauden Barrett, the World Rugby Player of the Year last season, might be a weakness in the All Blacks lineup because of his goal kicking. 2013 (winning tour) was wonderful, it was all fresh, it was all new. New Zealand, the current world champion and top-ranked team, hasn't lost a three-test series since 1994.

"You try to tell yourself that you've done it before and it won't be a big deal of you don't make it this time but ultimately, waiting for the announcement was very tense and nervous and no matter how much you try to kid yourself, it would probably have felt like the end of the world for a few hours if I hadn't have".

"The hard work starts for us now. We just needed to make sure we have the depth and quality in the squad to make sure we can handle the quality of the sides we're coming up against".



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