SA Rugby Magazine takes a look at who the bookies’ odds suggest will play for the British & Irish Lions in the first Test against the Springboks. Not necessarily the side I would send out against the Springboks, but here’s what the bookies think.
Lions boss Warren Gatland has selected a strong 37-man squad for their eight-match tour of South Africa, during which they will take on the Bulls, Golden Lions, Sharks, Stormers and SA A before the enticing three-Test series against the Springboks.
Now a month out from the first Test, bookies have given odds on how the elite composite team will shape up for the opening game against the Boks in Cape Town.
Interestingly, there is no place for South African-born utility back Duhan van der Merwe in the starting line-up, with Stuart Hogg set to earn the No 15 jersey, flanked by Anthony Watson and Liam Williams as the wings.
Robbie Henshaw and Owen Farrell are touted as the centre combination, while Dan Biggar and Conor Murray are favoured to start as the halfback axis.
Toby Faletau, Tom Curry and Tadhg Beirne are odds-on favourites to make up the loose trio, while Maro Itoje and Alun Wyn Jones will team up in the second row. The bookies also point to Tadhg Furlong and Wyn Jones as the preferred starting props alongside hooker Jamie George in the front row.
Lions XV for first Test according to the odds – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Jamie George, 1 Wyn Jones.