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Ulster's Lions

The British and Irish Lions set off for their three Test tour of South Africa on Sunday, and among the 36-man squad are Ulstermen Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe. Micheal McGeary remembers the Ulster players who have forged a proud tradition with the Lions since the Second World War

JEREMY DAVIDSON: Was a colossus when partnering Martin Johnson in the second row in South Africa in 1997.

Toured Australia in 2001, but 12 months later was forced to retire after suffering a horrific knee injury.

MIKE GIBSON: Arguably the greatest centre of any era, he enjoyed his finest hour in New Zealand in 1971 playing alongside John Dawes with Barry John at out-half.

Willie John McBride’s record of five tours was equalled in 1977, but back and hamstring problems meant he was unable to compete for a Test place.

KEN GOODALL: One of the finest number eights of h is generation he toured South Africa as a replacement in 1968.

But during his first match he broke a bone in his hand,which ended his tour.

He turned to rugby league in 1970 only for injury to finish his career the following year.

He died in August 2006.

NOEL HENDERSON: He played in the third Test against the All Blacks in 1950 on the wing.

His try against Australia in January 1959 from halfway helped secured Ireland’s first win over a touring international side from the southern hemisphere.

DAVE HEWITT: Toured with the Lions in 1959 as a 19-year-old and took New Zealand and Australia by storm, the highpoint a blistering try from 30 metres in the third Test.

Three years later he made his second Lions tour to South Africa, but hamstring injuries restriced him to just seven games.

TYRONE HOWE: Called up to the 2001 tour of Australia as a replacement and played in one midweek game.

Now both a newspaper columnist and a well-respected TV pundit.

RAY HUNTER: A double rugby and cricket international he toured South Africa with the Lions in 1962.

Failed to make the Test teams, but scored two tries in 11 matches. He was also capped 10 times by Ireland.

DAVID IRWIN: Toured New Zealand in 1983 playing in three of the four Tests.

Won 25 Irish cap and would have added to that but for a number of serious injuries including a broken leg.

KEN KENNEDY: Toured with the Lions in 1966 and 1974, making a dream debut in Sydney in 1966 scoring a try in an 11-8 victory.

In 1974 he failed to make the Test side, but in his unofficial role of medical officer he excelled.

JACK KYLE: Voted Ireland’s best ever player there are those who would rate him the Lions’ greatest as well.

Toured New Zealand and Australia in 1950 where he enjoyed celebrity status.

An elusive runner, his blistering pace combined with side step and body swerve made him of the most gifted number 10s to play the game.

RONNIE LAMONT: Toured New Zealand and Australia in 1966 and played in all four Tests against the All Blacks, scoring a try.

Capped 12 times for Ireland between 1965 and 1970, he won seven caps at number eight and five as flanker.

WILLE JOHN McBRIDE: A Lions legend he made five tours playing in 17 Tests.

He was a hugely influential figure as pack leader in New Zealand in 1971, but the best was still to come as captain three years later leading the Lions unbeaten through a 22 match programme.

BILL McKAY: Was the Lions outstanding forward in the 1950 tour of Australia and New Zealand playing in all six Tests.

Regarded by many as the greatest Irish flanker of all time.

STEWART McKINNEY: Toured South Africa in 1974 when his appearances were confined to eight mainly because of injuries.

But his penalty goal against Free State in a game the Lions won 11-9, was crucial in helping the visitors maintain their unbeaten record.

SYD MILLAR: Toured with the Lions in 1959, 1962 and 1968 as a player and then coached the most successful of all Lions sides on their unbeaten 1974 tour of South Africa.

He rated the 1959 side as the best he ever played in, but the triumph of 1974 still stands as his finest Lions hour.

DICK MILLIKEN: Was one of the unsung heroes of the 1974 tour of South Africa.

Played in all four Tests against the Springboks in the centre alongside current Lions coach Ian McGeechan, scoring a superb try in the second Test.

JIMMY NELSON: Toured Australia and New Zealand in 1950 playing in four Tests.

A member of the Triple Crown winning teams of 1948 and 1949, his international career began in 1947 ending in 1954 during which time he won 16 caps.

COLIN PATTERSON: Toured South Africa in 1980, playing in three Tests and earning rave reviews before he suffered a horrific knee injury in the last game prior to the final Test.

It was an injury that left his international career in ruins.

CECIL PEDLOW: Toured South Africa in 1955 with a side captained by the late Robin Thompson scoring a decisive try in the first Test.

An exceptionally gifted sportsman he was a squash international, a superb footballer who also played tennis to Davis Cup standard.

TREVOR RINGLAND: Toured New Zealand with the Lions, captained by Ciaran Fitzgerald, in 1983, playing in one Test.

He won 34 caps for Ireland between 1981 and 1988 scoring nine tries.

STEVIE SMITH: Toured Australia with the Lions in 1989 without making Test side.

But never gave less than 100% in the midweek games and was a big favourite with his colleagues.

ROBIN THOMPSON: Captained the Lions on the 1955 tour of South Africa which was drawn 2-2.

But sadly illness curtailed his contribution. He played in three Tests, but was never the same force after having his appendix removed.


Nigel Carr never toured with the Lions, but played against The Rest of the World in a one-off game in Cardiff in 1986.

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