More woe for Hartley, Scots as Lions squad for NZ announced

Ireland's victory over the All Blacks a year ago was key to convincing the British and Irish Lions that they can win in New Zealand and that the double world champions are human after all, coach Warren Gatland said on Wednesday.

Lions tour manager John Spencer will announce the squad, being joined by Gatland, his coaching staff and captain, who is expected to be Wales flanker Sam Warburton, at a hotel on the edge of the 200-acre Syon House Estate in west London.

Perhaps Gatland's most controversial selection decision was to overlook England captain Dylan Hartley, picking instead Hartley's under-study at worldwide level Jamie George, as well as Rory Best and Ken Owens for the hooker slots.

Warburton, who has won 74 Wales caps and led his country in two World Cup campaigns, is now injured.

Former Scotland and Lions hooker Gordon Bulloch felt his countrymen's sparse representation in Warren Gatland's squad was somewhat predictable given the lack of influence among selectors.

Although the squad had been heavily leaked in advance of the announcement, there were a few shocks.

The Welshman had believed that he had blown his chances when he hung-up on the Lions manager in a supermarket vehicle park.

Sam Warburton has been bestowed the honour of leading the British & Irish Lions again - but he found out in most unprestigious of settings. 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. There is no third tour for Wales centre Jamie Roberts, but there will be trips back to their homeland for England centre Ben Te'o and Ireland utility back Jared Payne.

There was no room for three key players for England: lock Joe Launchbury, flyhalf George Ford or fullback Mike Brown.

The omissions were just as noteworthy, with England captain Dylan Hartley among the famous names not to be selected as well as fellow Six Nations winners Joe Launchbury and Mike Brown.

The 23-year-old is the first player from the midlands region to be selected on a Lions squad.

There were 12 players from Wales - a country coached by Gatland - 11 from Ireland and two from Scotland, which will be one of the big talking points of the selections.

"I don't think we should get on the plane unless we think they are beatable", he said.

Two of the three tests take place at Auckland's Eden Park where the hosts are unbeaten since rugby turned professional in 1995, winning 36 games in a row.

"This is probably the hardest selection we have had, we think it is a strong squad so as a coaching team we are really excited about the talent and quality of team we are taking to New Zealand".

The last time the Lions toured New Zealand, in 2005, they endured a 3-0 defeat but Gatland's squad can take heart from recent successes against the world's number one side.

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