Five Munster rugby players are tipped to be included in the British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand this summer, when it is announced in London at noon today (Wednesday) by Warren Gatland.
Scrum-half Conor Murray and number eight CJ Stander – both of whom have been sidelined with injuries in recent weeks – look certain to be included in the squad, which could be up to 40 strong.
Second-row Donnacha Ryan, who is set to leave Munster for Racing 92 in France this summer, and the province’s captain Peter O’Mahony are also well-placed to be in the tour squad for the 10-match tour which kicks-off in July.
It is also being reported that Munster winger, Keith Earls – who toured with the Lions in South Africa eight years ago – could get the nod once again.
Earls has been in excellent form for Munster and Ireland in recent months.
Overall, Ireland’s representation in the tour party is expected to be as many as 12 players, although it is not expected to be as big as the record 14 players selected for the tour to South Africa eight years ago.
In shock reports this morning it is rumoured that England rugby captain Dylan Harltey will not be in the touring squad – meaning a current England captain will have missed out on selection for a third successive time (Chris Robshaw and Steve Borthwick also missed out on selection when they were England captains).
Ireland skipper Rory Best has reportedly beaten England captain Dylan Hartley to a place in Warren Gatland's British and Irish Lions squad.
More on this story later today.