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British and Irish Lions 2017: Warren Gatland personally fought to include Jonathan Joseph in squad

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    Loosehead prop: Joe Marler (England)

    Age: 26

    International caps: 51

    Lions caps: 0

    Why he’s on the plane: Marler flourished in Mako Vunipola’s absence and kept the Saracens prop out of the England side once he had returned to fitness. The Quins front-row has come of age this season.

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    Loosehead prop: Jack McGrath (Ireland)

    Age: 27

    International caps: 41

    Lions caps: 0

    Why he’s on the plane: McGrath has ousted Cian Healy in the Irish side and proved pivotal to disrupting the English scrum in the Six Nations encounter in Dublin last month. Has also helped Leinster reach the European semi-finals.

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    Loosehead prop: Mako Vunipola (England)

    Age: 26

    International caps: 42

    Lions caps: 3

    Why he’s on the plane: Vunipola looked a certainty on the plane before he suffered a knee injury earlier in the season, but he has returned to full fitness with Saracens and has been one of the standout performers in their return to form since the Six Nations.

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    Hooker: Rory Best (Ireland)

    Age: 34

    International caps: 104

    Lions caps: 0

    Why he’s on the plane: He will head to New Zealand as the oldest member of the Lions squad, though he is yet to play in a Test match while on tour. The Ireland skipper benefitted from Dylan Hartley’s ban in 2013 to tour with the Lions, captaining them in the loss to the Brumbies, but his experience will be valuable to a relatively fresh front-row.

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    Hooker: Jamie George (England)

    Age: 26

    International caps: 17

    Lions caps: 0

    Why he’s on the plane: Probably the form hooker in Europe who can do as good a job from the start of the match as he can do off the replacements’ bench, as he has done so often for England. His only weakness will be that he has never played the All Blacks’ senior side.

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    Hooker: Ken Owens (Wales)

    Age: 30

    International caps: 50

    Lions caps: 2

    Why he’s on the plane: The Scarlets hooker enjoyed a strong Six Nations despite Wales’s struggles, and his physicality at the breakdown will do him well in New Zealand.

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