Lions squad announcement 2021: when will British and Irish rugby team be selected ahead of South Africa tour?

The 2021 Lions tour squad will be revealed by coach Warren Gatland, including who is picked as captain

Warren Gatland, theBritish and Irish Lions head coach.
Warren Gatland, theBritish and Irish Lions head coach.

After weeks and months of conjecture and guesswork, Warren Gatland will today announce his British and Irish Lions squad to take on South Africa.

Gatland is expected to name a 36-man squad, down from the 41 the Lions took to New Zealand four years ago. This is due to the difficulties of travelling in a pandemic.

But who will be named in the travelling party? Will Scotland have a large representation after their impressive Six Nations campaign? Who will be named captain? We take a look at the key decisions.

Maro Itoje is in the race to become British and Irish Lions captain for the summer tour to South Africa.

When will the squad be announced?

The squad will be announced on Thursday 6 May.

What time is the announcement?

The announcement is expected to begin at 11.45am.

Alun Wyn Jones of Wales is favourite to be named Lions captain.

The captain will be revaled at 12.09pm followed by the full squad at 12.28pm.

What TV channel is it on? How can I watch the squad announcement?

The announcement will be streamed live on the Lions website. You can also watch live via the Lions’ Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and app platforms

Who is likely to be named Lions captain?

Hamish Watson of Scotland was named player of the Six Nations this year.

There are a number of contenders to be named Lions tour captain.

Welsh skipper and record cap holder Alun Wyn Jones looks set to be named tour captain by Gatland, while England's Saracens pair Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell and Scotland's Stuart Hogg also mooted as contenders.

Here are the latest captaincy odds:

Alun Wyn Jones: 4/5

Maro Itoje: 6/4

Stuart Hogg: 10/1

Owen Farrell: 20/1

Ken Owens: 25/1

Who will be in the squad?

The Lions selection committee have some big decisions to make. The flanker position carries a lot of competition, while there are plenty of options on the wings.

Scotland duo Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson, the Guinness Six Nations player of the tournament, will be waiting anxiously to see if he gets the nod after an impressive Six Nations, given that the back row options include England’s Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, Welsh pair Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi and the Irish contingent of Jack Conan, Josh van der Flier and Tadhg Beirne.

The big South-African-born Scotland international Duhan van der Merwe also staked a strong case to join his international captain Stuart Hogg on the plane. After England’s poor Six Nations championship, their stars may be sweating over a place but Jonny May and Anthony Watson should get selected, alongside Farrell.

Gatland’s decision has been made for him regarding a couple of potential picks however, with George North rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament just days after lock Joe Launchbury suffered a similar injury. England scrum-half Ben Youngs has also made himself unavailable for selection, leaving Gatland with one less choice at an already tricky position.

Who could be the ‘bolters’ for Lions squad?

Marcus Smith and Danny Care have emerged as shock potential picks. The Harlequins duo are reportedly on Gatland's long-list of candidates, as well as Exeter back-rower Sam Simmonds and Bath scrum-half Ben Spencer.

All four players are believed to have been among the 50 players sent a letter about their availability for the tour despite not being part of Eddie Jones' England squad.

Smith’s inclusion would come as a shock, given Gatland has Farrell, Johnny Sexton, Finn Russell and Dan Biggar to consider as his options at fly-half.

Care, 34, has 84 England caps but has not played for his country since 2018.

Another scrum-half ‘bolter’ is Kieran Hardy. The 25-year-old has made only three Test starts for Wales, but is also joined by Ireland’s John Coomey as a potential surprise pick.