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Rupert Wyman 21st Apr 2009 - 15:03

Lions to roar to success in South Africa

Ian McGeechan has named his British and Lions squad today for this summer's tour of South Africa as well as appointing Irish lock Paul O'Connell as captain for the tour.

The only alternative to O'Connell as captain was the Ireland Grand Slam-winning captain Brian O'Driscoll but O'Connell is probably the right choice.

McGeechan named a 37-man squad for the three-Test series tour of South Africa with unsurprisingly Ireland leading the way with 14 players. They are closely followed by 13 from Wales, eight from England and just two Scots.

There were no major surprises thrown up by the experienced Scot. The biggest omissions are probably England full-back Delon Armitage who was impressive in the Six Nations and Wales captain Ryan Jones. While the biggest surprise call-ups were Keith Earls and Alan Quinlan, both of Ireland.

View the full squad below

The World Champions South Africa are the 2/5 favourites to win the series despite the impressive looking squad that McGeechan has picked. The Lions are priced at 2/1 with the unlikely event of a drawn series at 25/1.

The last time the Lions were in South Africa, in 1997, they won the series 2-1 after a drop goal by England's Jeremy Guscott late in the second Test put the Lions 2-0 up in the series and then the Springboks won the last Test.

Of course with the time that has passed between the series the 2009 Lions are vastly different from their 1997 counterparts, indeed only England lock Simon Shaw was on the tour in 1997. However Ian McGeechan was the Head Coach back then like he is this time around. A repeat 2-1 scoreline to the Lions can be backed at 3/1 and this looks to be where the value lies.

A South African 2-1 series win is a 6/4 shot and South Africa to whitewash the Lions, as New Zealand did four years ago, is priced at 7/4. But this Lions tour should be much better organised under the guidance of experienced Lions coach Ian McGeechan as opposed to the chaos that ensued against the All Blacks under Clive Woodward.

McGeechan has been the coach of the Lions on three previous tours and this experience should prepare him for what will no doubt be a tough tour, with a gruelling schedule, but ultimately successful tour for this talented Lions squad.

British and Irish Lions squad

Position Player Age Club Country
Full-back Lee Byrne 28 Ospreys Wales
Full-back Rob Kearney 23 Leinster Ireland
Wing Shane Williams 32 Ospreys Wales
Wing Leigh Halfpenny 20 Cardiff Blues Wales
Wing Ugo Monye 26 Harlequins England
Wing Luke Fitzgerald 21 Leinster Ireland
Wing Tommy Bowe 25 Ospreys Ireland
Centre Tom Shanklin 29 Cardiff Blues Wales
Centre Jamie Roberts 22 Cardiff Blues Wales
Centre Brian O'Driscoll 30 Leinster Ireland
Centre Keith Earls 21 Munster Ireland
Centre Riki Flutey 29 Wasps England
Fly-half Stephen Jones 31 Llanelli Scarlets Wales
Fly-half Ronan O'Gara 32 Munster Ireland
Scrum-half Mike Phillips 26 Ospreys Wales
Scrum-half Harry Ellis 26 Leicester England
Scrum-half Tomas O'Leary 25 Munster Ireland
Prop Gethin Jenkins 28 Cardiff Blues Wales
Prop Adam Jones 28 Ospreys Wales
Prop Andrew Sheridan 29 Sale England
Prop Phil Vickery 33 Wasps England
Prop Euan Murray 28 Northampton Scotland
Hooker Jerry Flannery 30 Munster Ireland
Hooker Lee Mears 30 Bath England
Hooker Matthew Rees 28 Llanelli Scarlets Wales
Lock Paul O'Connell 29 Munster Ireland
Lock Alun Wyn Jones 23 Ospreys Wales
Lock Donncha O'Callaghan 30 Munster Ireland
Lock Nathan Hines 32 Perpignan Scotland
Lock Simon Shaw 35 Wasps England
Back-row Andy Powell 27 Cardiff Blues Wales
Back-row Jamie Heaslip 25 Leinster Ireland
Back-row Alan Quinlan 34 Munster Ireland
Back-row Martyn Williams 33 Cardiff Blues Wales
Back-row David Wallace 32 Munster Ireland
Back-row Joe Worsley 31 Wasps England
Back-row Stephen Ferris 23 Ulster Ireland

British and Irish Lions fixtures

Date Opponent Venue
30 May Highveld XV Royal Bakofeng, Rustenburg
3 June Golden Lions Ellis Park, Johannesburg
6 June Cheetahs Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
10 June Sharks ABSA Park, Durban
13 June Western Province Newlands, Cape Town
16/17 June Coastal XV Port Elizabeth (TBC)
20 June South Africa ABSA Park, Durban
23 June Emerging Springboks Newlands, Cape Town
27 June South Africa Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
4 July South Africa Ellis Park, Johannesburg

South Africa v British and Irish Lions betting

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