Belfast Telegraph

British and Irish Lions - full squad plus match dates and venues for New Zealand tour

Sam Warburton has been named captain of the 2017 British and Irish Lions to become just the second man to lead to consecutive tours, but there was more heartbreak for England skipper Dylan Hartley after he was left out of Warren Gatland’s squad to take on New Zealand this summer.

The Lions take on the All Blacks in a three-match Test series along with seven warm-up matches against all five Super Rugby sides, the Maori All Blacks and the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, with the tour getting underway on 3 June.

Warburton was widely expected to lead the tour for a second time under Gatland after captaining the triumphant 2013 series against Australia, and despite suffering a knee injury while playing for the Cardiff Blues earlier this month, the flanker has been given the honour once again to emulate Martin Johnson as the only other man to lead to separate tours.

However, there was no space for Hartley, who despite leading England to back-to-back Six Nations championships and a record-equalling 18-match winning streak, has been left out of the squad, four years after he was removed from the Lions after receiving an 11-week ban for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Premiership final.

With Hartley absent, his England understudy, Jamie George, joins Ireland captain Rory Best and Wales hooker Ken Owens in the squad, but that is not the only surprise decision made by Gatland.

Ireland full-back Jared Payne, England wing Jack Nowell and Wales back row Ross Moriarty were included in the 41-man squad.

The unpredictable New Zealander has included England centre Ben Te’o, but fellow Englishman Jonathan Joseph makes the squad despite initially being thought to have been left out.

The Bath centre was tipped to be in with a chance of featuring in the Test side, but has been left out completely and will now face a summer tour with England to Argentina for their two-Test series along with a number of high profile players after they were also left out. Fly-half George Ford, flankers James Haskell and Chris Robshaw, lock Joe Launchbury and full-back Mike Brown has all missed out on selection, despite England winning the Six Nations last month a year after completing the Grand Slam and a series whitewash over Australia.

British and Irish Lions 2017 squad

Forwards:

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)

Backs:

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)

Here are the key dates for the Lion's tour matches.

3 June: New Zealand Provincial Barbarians (Toll Stadium, Whangarei)

7 June: Blues (Eden Park, Auckland)

10 June: Crusaders (AMI Stadium, Christchurch)

13 June: Highlanders (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

17 June: Maori All Blacks (Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua)

20 June: Chiefs (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)

24 June: New Zealand – First Test (Eden Park, Auckland)

27 June: Hurricanes (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)

1 July: New Zealand – Second Test (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)

8 July: New Zealand – Third Test (Eden Park, Auckland)

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