Telegraph Sport's Lions squad day three: Locks - do you agree with our writers' selections?

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Mick Cleary
·5-min read
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Telegraph Sport's Lions squad day three: Locks - do you agree with our writers' selections?
Telegraph Sport's Lions squad day three: Locks - do you agree with our writers' selections?

Lions head coach Warren Gatland will announce his squad for the tour to South Africa on May 6 - and in advance of the big selection announcement Telegraph Sport's rugby writers have nominated their own picks to take on the world champions.

The spotlight fell first on the props, followed by the hookers. Now we move on to the potential locks.

Mick Cleary, Chief Rugby Union Writer

My locks: Maro Itoje (England), James Ryan (Ireland), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland) 

The Lions need big, athletic men at their core and given that the likes of Courney Lawes and Jonny Gray don’t make the cut tells you all you need to know about the calibre of those who do get the trip. Lawes has missed too much rugby this season through injury to press his claims while Gray is just simply unlucky to miss out. He would do as the others will do, represent the jersey with guts and spikiness. 

Daniel Schofield, Deputy Rugby Union Correspondent 

My locks: Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), James Ryan (Ireland), Jonny Gray (Scotland)

The first three pick themselves. Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones and James Ryan are the totems of their respective teams and two of those three will surely form the starting combination against the Springboks. The fourth choice is agonising. Tadhg Beirne is my starter at blindside and Joe Launchbury would have been firmly in consideration pre injury. Then it comes down to Courtney Lawes, who has been struggling for fitness, Iain Henderson, who is perfectly suited for the Springboks physicality and the tackling machine that is Jonny Gray. The latter gets my vote.

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Gavin Mairs, Chief Rugby Union Correspondent

My locks: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Maro Itoje (England), James Ryan (Ireland), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland) and Iain Henderson (Ireland)

Tadhg Beirne has earned his place with a stunning Six Nations and could easily go as a back row forward. That flexibility will be key to the back five. Jones and Itoje are the favourites for the Test side but Ryan is the coming man. Henderson’s brute force also forced his way into the Test squad four years ago and he oozes experience now. Tough call on Jonny Gray.

Charles Richardson

My locks: Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), James Ryan (Ireland), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland).

Perhaps the easiest division to select, predicated on the fact that Jonny Gray, despite his lung-busting assiduousness, is simply too lightweight for the Springboks, too easily outmuscled with the ball. Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson - and Itoje to an extent - are magnificent second rows with the added bonus of being able play at blindside, versatility which puts their selections beyond debate. Alun Wyn Jones to skipper the tour, too, but if others outperform him then Maro Itoje would be a handy understudy.

Tom Cary, Senior Sports Correspondent

My locks: Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), James Ryan (Ireland), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)

Probably the Lions’s strongest position. You won’t find anyone arguing against Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones or James Ryan. Iain Henderson, meanwhile, was superb in 2017 and looked back to his best in the Six Nations just gone. The only question then is whether you pick Tadhg Beirne at lock or in the back row, thereby opening up a space for a Jonny Hill or a Jonny Gray. I’m happy to pick him at lock and keep an extra back row spot available.

Ben Coles, Rugby Reporter

My locks: Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), James Ryan (Ireland)

Tadhg Beirne's included as a lock but you can be sure he'll feature a lot in the back row too. The news that English-based players not involved in the Premiership final will be available early is good for Maro Itoje's captaincy chances, who obviously can also cover six. Alun Wyn Jones is a certainty after another fine Six Nations and could also be Gatland's choice as captain, while James Ryan is an astute lineout caller and Iain Henderson offers both excellent physicality and the flexibility to also cover blindside flanker. 

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Courtney Lawes' injury was ill-timed as he might have been in the mix, but overall it's a very strong group, with Adam Beard an outside bet.

Richard Bath

My locks: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Maro Itoje (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), James Ryan (Ireland), Jonny Gray (Scotland)

Alun Wyne Jones and Maro Itoje have Lions pedigree and look likely to be the test starters, with one of them a possible captain. However, the stats say Iain Henderson was the Six Nations’ standout lock and he can also play in the back row. James Ryan has the mental hardness of a Lion, and Jonny Gray the dependability. Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury both miss out because of injuries.

James Corrigan

My locks: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Maro Itoje (England), James Ryan (Ireland), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Courtney Lawes (England)

The first three locks pick themselves, with Jones the obvious captain. Lawes and Beirne offer so many options and look natural tourists.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think of our writers' selections? Let us know in the comments section below.