Bundee Aki joins elite list of Connacht Rugby players to go on the British And Irish Lions Tour

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It was quite a surprise but Bundee Aki has joined an elite list of Connacht Rugby players to go on the British And Irish Lions Tour.

Warren Gatland named AKI in his touring squad, it was expected Garry Ringrose would have been selected but Bundeee got the nod.

The previous Connacht players to play for the Lions are Ray McLoughlin (1966, 1971), John O’Driscoll (1980, 1983) & Ciaran Fitzgerald (1983) who were all before the professional era.

Several players are named in a Lions squad for a first time, including Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Chris Harris, Ali Price, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Zander Fagerson, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill, Wyn Jones, Andrew Porter, Sam Simmonds, Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson.

“We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa,” said Gatland.

“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position.

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“We saw some outstanding performance in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.

“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the World Champions. We’ve left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.

“Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today.”

Backs (16):

Josh Adams (Cardiff, Wales) Wing

Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) Centre

Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) Fly-half

Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) Centre

Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) Scrum-half

Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) Fly-half

Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) Centre

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Centre

Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) Full-back

Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) Scrum-half

Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) Scrum-half

Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) Wing

Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) Fly-half

Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Wing

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) Wing

Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) Full-back

Forwards (21):

Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) Second row

Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Back row

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) Hooker

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) Back row

Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) Prop

Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) Back row

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Prop

Jamie George (Saracens, England) Hooker

Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) Second row

Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) Second row

Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) Second row

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) (Captain) Second row

Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) Prop

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) Second row

Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) Hooker

Andrew Porter (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Prop

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) Back row

Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Prop

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales) Back row

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) Prop

Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Back row

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