The long wait for the announcement of the British and Irish Lions' "class of 2017" is over. The squad chosen by coach Warren Gatland for this year's tour of New Zealand was released on Wednesday, featuring 16 players from England, 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland, and two from Scotland.
Wales back row Sam Warburton has been named British and Irish Lions captain for the second straight tour. Warburton is only the second player in the history of the Lions to have this honor.
The tour, which lasts a little over a month from June 3 to July 8, includes three matches against the defending World Cup champion All Blacks. The Lions will also be playing all four of New Zealand's Super Rugby teams, the New Zealand Barbarians, and the Maori All Blacks. The tour opens with a match against the Barbarians on June 3 at Toll Stadium in the northern New Zealand city of Whangarei.
There is no clear number one, two or three in some positions," Gatland said. "That is what makes us excited about the quality of the squad. This will be the toughest tour -- in previous tours the midweek games have been easier. If you look at the quality of the teams we are playing midweek, it is going to be hugely challenging. That is why we have picked a few extra players, to make sure we have got depth and quality.
Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O'Brien (Ireland), Peter O'Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales)
Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te'o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England)