Sam Simmonds’ last international match in England was defeated by Ireland in March 2018
Exeters Sam Simmonds is ahead of number eight English compatriot Billy Vunipola in a 37-strong British and Irish Lions squad, with two-time tourist Johnny Sexton also being left out.
Alun Wyn Jones, 35, from Wales is confirmed as captain for his fourth Lions tour.
English striker Courtney Lawes – injured since February – and Lock Jonny Hill are also in the squad.
In the centers, the Scottish Chris Harris and the Irish Bundee Aki are called.
The Englishman Jonny May and Henry Slade as well as the 2013 tourist Manu Tuilagi, who last played in September with an Achilles injury, and the Welsh center Jonathan Davies remain out.
Another notable omission is the English supporter Kyle Sinckler, with the Irishman Andrew Porter belonging to compatriot Tadhg Furlong and the Scot Zander Fagerson being among the closest.
Sam Underhill and Josh Navidi are missing out on the competitive back row but Jack Conan from Ireland and Hamish Watson from Scotland are in attendance.
Irish pair James Ryan and Garry Ringrose also failed to form a squad of 11 English players, 10 Welsh players and eight players each from Scotland and Ireland.
Captain Jones, who led Wales to the six-nation title earlier this year, set a world record of 157 Tests for his country and the Lions.
He was the favorite for the role, ahead of other potential competitors like Englishman Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell.
“Getting selected on the squad is what you want to hear first,” said Jones. “And to have the armband too is a privilege, with the names that have gone before and what these players have achieved.”
British and Irish Lions 2021 roster
Captain: Alun Wyn Jones (whale)
Forward: Tadhg Beirne (Irish), Jack Conan (Irish), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Eng), Tom Curry (Eng), Zander Fagerson (Sco), Taulupe Faletau (Wal), Tadhg Furlong (Irish), Jamie George (Eng), Iain Henderson (Irish), Jonny Hill (Eng), Maro Itoje (Eng), Wyn Jones (Wal), Courtney Lawes (Eng), Ken Owens (Wal), Andrew Porter (Irish), Sam Simmonds (Eng), Rory Sutherland (Sco), Justin Tipuric (Wal), Mako Vunipola (Eng), Hamish Watson (Sco).
Move: Josh Adams (whale), Bundee Aki (Irish), Dan Biggar (whale), Elliot Daly (Eng), Gareth Davies (whale), Owen Farrell (Eng), Chris Harris (Sco), Robbie Henshaw (Irish), Stuart Hogg (Sco), Conor Murray (Irish), Ali Price (Sco), Lewis Rees-Zammit (Wal), Finn Russell (Sco), Duhan van der Merwe (Sco), Anthony Watson (Eng), Liam Williams (Wal).
Simmonds comes out of the cold
Back row Simmonds’ last international appearance was a 24:15 loss to Ireland in March 2018.
He has failed to add to his international record since winning European Player of the Year last season and topping the Premiership charts this season.
His relative lack of bulk was seen as a possible weakness, but Gatland was instead influenced by his ball-in-hand ability at jerks and speed.
“He changes the dynamics of your game. He’s lightning fast. He’s a dangerous guy, a difference,” said former tourist Ugo Monye on the Rugby Union Weekly podcast on Monday.
The Scots offer the largest contingent in the generation
Duhan Van der Merwe was capped by South African U-20s before qualifying for Scotland on the grounds of residence
Only two Scottish players formed the first Lions roster for the New Zealand tour four years ago.
After groundbreaking victories in England and France at this year’s Six Nations and the appointment of head coach Gregor Townsend to the staff in the Gatland back room, the trip to South Africa was likely getting higher and higher.
The total of eight is the largest number of Scots in a tour company since 1989.
Center Harris will be rewarded for excellence, particularly in defense, during the Six Nations while wing Duhan van der Merwe, who was the leading British and Irish player in terms of tries and meters of the tournament, will tour the country in which he was born and raised.
Prop Rory Sutherland is making the trip like Lawes in the back row of England despite still recovering from an injury.
Gatland decides, despite some doubts whether it would fit the New Zealander’s style, also for Scotland’s playful fly half Finn Russell.
And Ali Price is named next to Gareth Davies from Wales and Conor Murray from Ireland at Scrum-Half.
Gatland shows ruthless sharpness again
Davies and Sexton were important parts of the last two Lions tours
With the squad shrinking due to coronavirus considerations, there was no room for emotion and Gatland did Famous Irish star Brian O’Driscoll has fallen For the last test in a series, the win against Australia again showed its ruthless lead.
Sexton, 35, came into play after losing in the First Test to lead the Lions to a part of the series in New Zealand four years ago.
Davies played every minute of the Tests against the All Blacks and was voted the show’s tourist player.
But neither do the cut after injury and indifferent shape.
The omission of Sinckler, who played in all three Tests in 2017, has been described as an “absolute bombshell” by BBC rugby union correspondent Chris Jones.
“We have seen some great performances in the last six nations so the competition for places has been tough and calls have been incredibly tight,” said Gatland.
“We left out some very talented players, which is an indication of the strength of this squad.”
Lions troop in numbers
5 – Saracen players – most of all clubs
11 – English players, one more than Wales and three more than Scotland and Ireland
18th – First time Lions tourists
19th – How many times has Alun Wyn Jones played for Wales and the Lions against South Africa
20th – Age of the Welsh wing Louis Rees-Zammit, the youngest member of the squad
20th – Years since a Scottish player started a Lions Test (loose headrest Tom Smith in Sydney versus Australia in 2001)
The UK and Irish Lions begin their test series with a warm-up match against Japan on June 26th in Murrayfield.
Gatland’s team is expected to play eight games at six locations in South Africa. The team will train and play in a coronavirus bubble with camps in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The Lions will play Tests at Soccer City and Ellis Park in Johannesburg, on either side of a game at Cape Town Stadium.