AS MANY as 10 Scotland players have pressed their case for a starting berth when the British and Irish Lions take on New Zealand this summer, according to a quartet of touring legends.
Scottish rugby icon Gavin Hastings, World Cup-winning England captain Martin Johnson, Ireland legend Paul O’Connell and Wales hero Shane Williams have all named their Lions teams after casting their eye over the opening weekend of the Six Nations.
Scotland’s 27-22 victory over Ireland has clearly captured the imagination of the four former players, who can boast of 11 Lions tours and 24 Tests between them.
Williams and Johnson both chose seven Scots after Vern Cotter’s men became the first in dark blue since 2006 to win their opening match in the Six Nations, whilst Hastings selected five and O’Connell just two.
Unsurprisingly after his scintillating display and brace of tries, Stuart Hogg gets the nod from all four former Lions for the full-back role, whilst O’Connell, Williams and Hastings all chose Jonny Gray and Johnson his brother Richie.
Winger Sean Maitland, who produced two superb moments of try-saving defence against the Irish, is named by Williams, Johnson and Hastings, whilst cool and calm captain Greig Laidlaw also gets the nod from the trio of ex-Lions.
Flanker Hamish Watson caught the eye of Johnson and Hastings, and – despite not starting the Ireland match – hooker Ross Ford made it in to the line-ups selected by Williams and Johnson.
Elsewhere, back-rowers Josh Strauss and Ryan Wilson, and centre Alex Dunbar also merited places in Warren Gatland’s side to take on the All Blacks, according to the teams chosen in conjunction with Lions sponsors Standard Life Investments.