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Smith, Care are emerging as potential Lions shock picks

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Warren Gatland Appoints 36-Person Lions Squad Thursday; The harlequin duo Marcus Smith and Danny Care as well as Sam Simmonds and Ben Spencer are on a long list of candidates. None of the four players are currently in Eddie Jones’ English squad

Last update: 04/21/21 8:54 am

Harlequin’s half-bow tie, Marcus Smith, has never been cut by England

Marcus Smith and Danny Care turned out to be a shock potential for the British and Irish Lions roster ahead of this year’s South Africa tour of South Africa.

The harlequin duo Smith and Care is on Lions head coach Warren Gatland’s long list of candidates, as is Exeter backer Sam Simmonds and Bath scrum half Ben Spencer.

All four players are considered for the tour despite not being part of Eddie Jones’ English roster.

Danny Care is 34 and last played for England in 2018

Danny Care is 34 and last played for England in 2018

Smith was named in training teams by Jones in the past, but was never capped by his country. However, he has been in great shape for Harlequins, who are fourth in the Premier League this season.

His inclusion would be a shock as Gatland has to consider Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton, Finn Russell and Dan Biggar as his options at Fly-Half.

The 34-year-old Care has played 84 international matches in England but has not played for his country since 2018. But like Smith, he has impressed at the club level over the past few months and could also be helped by the decision of colleague Ben Youngs to self-exclude himself from the Lions selection for family reasons.

Sam Simmonds is the reigning European Player of the Year

Sam Simmonds is the reigning European Player of the Year

Like Care, Simmonds last played for England in 2018, but has since excelled at club level. The 26-year-old helped Exeter win the Premier League and European Cup titles in 2020, after which he was named European Player of the Year.

Spencer has played for England more recently after falling off the bench in the 2019 World Cup final to South Africa.

Bath Scrum-Half Ben Spencer played in the World Cup final for England

Bath Scrum-Half Ben Spencer played in the World Cup final for England

However, he wasn’t part of the original roster for the tournament and was flown in as a late addition prior to the final. The 28-year-old has only four caps for his country.

Jones’ selection decisions were scrutinized, especially after England’s poor performance during this year’s Six Nations.

They went into the tournament as reigning champions but finished fifth after losing to Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

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Steven Gregory