British and Irish Lions team selection
British and Irish Lions team named for Saturday’s opening Test against Australia.
Leigh Halfpenny has shown astonishing quality from the goalkicking tee as well as a real eye for the gap with ball in hand as he has continued the form that led to him being named player of the Six Nations. Heading into Saturday's test he has a goalkicking return of 22 from 23, many of them drilled unerringly from the touchline, and has also notched three tries. "He is playing at the top of his game," said coach Warren Gatland. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.
Another player who brought his Six Nations title-winning form on tour as he started with a bang with two tries in the opener against the Barbarians. Has dropped off the radar a little since but his power and the Welsh back-three understanding with Halfpenny and North probably secured his spot ahead of livewire late arrival Simon Zebo. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire
Brian O'Driscoll brings a unique combination of midfield creativity and flanker-style aggression with his vast experience making him a key component of the Lions backline. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.
Lions Alun Wyn Jones tried his hand at hurling during a training session at Anglican Church Grammar School, Brisbane in Australia. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.
With Halfpenny likely to handle the goalkicking duties, Sexton has done just about enough to edge Owen Farrell for the starting flyhalf jersey. The Lions will need him to step up a level and show a touch more authority if he is to get his backline operating sharply in the face of some high-speed opposition. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Eye on the ball: Lions George North tests his eye to ball coordination during a training session at Anglican Church Grammar School, Brisbane. Remarkably, North is still only 21, but with 31 Welsh caps and a confident start to the Lions tour under his belt, he plays like a veteran. Immensely strong but also intuitive, he is one of the tourists' key strike weapons and it was with much relief that his recovery from a hamstring strain was welcomed. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.
Within minutes of his first appearance against the Barbarians, Phillips brought back memories of his remarkable performances in South Africa four years ago. He thrives on the big stage, rarely taking the wrong option, and loves the physical nature of big tests. Probably the most mobile and dangerous scrumhalf since Springbok World Cup winner Joost van der Westhuizen when the tryline is in sight. Mike Phillips catches the ball during training. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Another who was expecting to be watching the Lions on television but, having been plucked from England's tour of Argentina, his impeccable scrummaging technique convinced the coaches he should start. Likely to give way to Mako Vunipola after an hour or so as his compatriot maintains his reputation as a destructive replacement. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire
Tom Youngs receives attention during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions at Allianz Stadium on June 15th, in Sydney, Australia. Another chapter in the Tom Youngs fairytale as the player struggling as a reserve centre at Leicester four years ago is now recognised as the best hooker in Britain. Solid in the scrum and throwing basics, his mobility probably gave him the edge over Richard Hibbard. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Alun Wyn Jones and Paul O'Connell of the Lions talk during the match between the Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions at Allianz Stadium. Wyn-Jones probably just edged the wily Geoff Parling on the back of his extra physicality. Was superb against the Waratahs and has long been a favourite of Gatland with his ideal combination of power and agility. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Adam Jones walks off the field after winning the match against the Waratahs in Sydney, Australia. Jones held off Dan Cole in a tough fight for the tighthead spot after showing his scrummaging mettle on tour. Another with a point to prove from 2009 after dislocating his shoulder during the brutal second test defeat in Pretoria. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Paul O'Connell has stamped his authority all over the team and desperate for a series win having captained the side that suffered such a cruel defeat in 2009. Looks to have really benefited from missing so much of the season with injury as he has been fresh and full of energy and stamina on tour so far and led by example with his tree-felling tackling and ball carrying. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Tom Croft was another difficult call for the selectors but his prodigious lineout talent and speed around the pitch give the Lions something of an "X-factor" from the pack and took him ahead of tough-tackling Dan Lydiate. Selection caps an amazing year after he returned from a broken neck only in January and Lions fans will be hoping he reproduces his superlative form from the last tour in 2009. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Sam Warburton. Doubts about his match-readiness after a lengthy lay-off were dispelled with typically all-action displays against the Reds and Waratahs. Ruthlessly efficient at the breakdown and a brick wall-tackling machine with an under-stated captaincy style that is popular with his team mates and coaches. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire
Jamie Heaslip just edged Wales' Toby Faletau in what must have been one of the toughest calls for the Lions management. A powerful presence whose ball-carrying prowess is second-to-none and another international captain in the mix. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images