British and Irish Lions: Who are the Welsh names who could make the squad?

Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones
Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones helped captain the British and Irish Lions to a series victory over Australia in 2013

With Warren Gatland's British and Irish Lions squad announcement soon approaching, who could make the flight to New Zealand and who might be disappointed?

Who is the pick of the Welsh talent who might force their way into the starting line up when the tour starts in June?

BBC Radio Wales Sport asked an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman to find out.

Selecting the right scrum-half

Former Wales and British Irish Lions scrum-half Dwayne Peel understands the pressure the players will be feeling as they wait to hear the squad announcement after being a part of the tour to New Zealand in 2005.

"It's the biggest honour you can get as a rugby player. To be named in the squad is a fantastic achievement and it's a moment to remember forever," Peel told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"There will be a few nerves but the 30 or so that are lucky enough to be named will be elated."

Rhys Webb
Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb has won 28 Wales caps

There will be fierce competition for places in Gatland's squad but Peel knows who he would pick for the number nine shirt.

"I think you go with [Ireland's] Conor Murray, I think he's got a better balance to the game but [Wales'] Rhys Webb is outstanding and was a better number nine in the Six Nations," he continued.

"[Webb] was the best nine in the Six Nations without a shadow of a doubt but then [England's] Ben Youngs has played very well over the last two years.

"You have to say in pole position it will be Murray but Webb was outstanding in the Six Nations. His performances against Scotland and France in particular was second to none."

Calling on experience

Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts was British and Irish Lions man-of-the series during the Tour of South Africa in 2009

Another tourist in 2005, former Ireland hooker Shane Byrne, does not think Gatland should opt for too many Wales players in his squad, despite coaching them to Six Nations Grand Slams in 2008 and 2012.

"I don't think it should be Wales-heavy. If there was a 50/50 call then he'll probably go with what he knows," he told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"You could see the likes of Jamie Roberts travelling because he knows exactly what they're going to do, they are hugely experienced.

"Another thing I think he will weigh up is have they travelled with the Lions before? I think he will go for a player who has been there and experienced the unique atmosphere on a tour."

A lack of Hart

Ken Owens
Scarlets hooker Ken Owens played in all of Wales' 2017 Six Nations games

Scarlets hooker Ken Owens has made 50 appearances for Wales since making his debut in 2011 and is yet to join a Lions tour but Byrne says this could be his year at the expense of England's Dylan Hartley.

"Right the way through the campaign, he [Owens] has been very consistent. There has been some questioning about his scrummage abilities which is going to be something will be sought after," Byrne added.

"As a player he's hardly put a foot wrong. Hartley you'd have to say is certainly under pressure because I would almost certainly agree he's not the best hooker in England.

"If he doesn't travel then [Ireland's] Rory Best will definitely travel so I can see the three hookers being Best, Owens and [England's] Jamie George on the plane."

Familiar faces

It is 46 years since a Lions side last beat New Zealand on home ground in 1971 and former England and Coventry wing David Duckham, who was part of that tour, believes Gatland will stick to what he knows when it comes to appointing a captain.

"At one point Alun Wyn Jones looked as if he should have got the job but I think it will go to Sam [Warburton] as there is no player Gatland knows better than him," Duckham told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"Although he's been injured and will be out of the game for a while, I think he will be there."

Former Scotland back Scott Hastings also has experience of facing the All Blacks and was a member of the 1993 tour that was defeated 2-1 and says Gatland has a task to decide who should captain the side.

"From what I can understand, the only person who knows they're going on the tour is the captain and that in itself is an interesting dynamic," Hastings told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"Sam Warburton's been touted as well as Alun Wyn Jones or will it be someone out of the establishment?"

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