Roaring Lions

Following the announcement of the British and Irish Lions squad, we look at the reactions to the Class of 2013.

Last Updated: 01/05/13 10:05pm

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There will be 37 players with an extra bounce in their steps this morning after they were included in the British and Irish Lions squad.

Sam Warburton will lead the squad of 15 Welshmen, 10 Englishmen, nine Irishmen and three Scots to Australia this summer.

At the age of 24, Warburton will become the youngest Welshman to skipper the tourists - although he has already guided Wales to the World Cup semi-final and the Grand Slam.

Head coach Warren Gatland sprung a few surprises - the inclusion of Matt Stevens, Mako Vunipola and Dylan Hartley among them - although those that missed out have grabbed a few of the headlines.

England captain Chris Robshaw, Scotland skipper Kelly Brown and Ireland hooker Rory Best are among those omitted - while Jonny Wilkinson opted to turn down the chance to tour.

The selections have been met with mixed reviews and as the dust settles on the squad announcement we look at the reactions to the Class of 2013.

You can catch up with how events unfolded at the announcement here

Lions head coach Warren Gatland

"We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for places. But ultimately we chose the players who will give us the best chance of a Test series victory. A Lions tour to Australia only comes around once every 12 years and we believe we have the right balance in the squad to be successful. We have a tremendous challenge in front of us but I know the players will be dedicated to the adventure and task ahead."

And on the decision not to pick Jonny Wilkinson Gatland added: "I rang him yesterday, just sort of to sound him out because I was really impressed with the way he played for Toulon against Saracens. We had a good conversation and he really appreciated the call.

"But he said he's committed to Toulon and his body's just holding together by his fingernails and he's managing himself week to week and we left it open."

Lions captain Sam Warburton

"To achieve this is very unexpected. I was watching the last tour four years ago and just winning my first cap for Wales out in America. If someone told me then I would be captain of the next trip I would have thought they were joking. I

"I found out about nine, ten days ago. I told my fiancee and my mum and dad, so I will have some angry friends back home as I didn't tell them. It was a difficult secret to keep."

Lions assistant coach Andy Farrell

"It's unbelievably tough. Chris (Robshaw) has had a tremendous season. Man-of-the-match performances for his country and led England superbly well and had some great form. The position is a tough as it gets. Unfortunately on the tour you can't keep going and going with numbers as much as you'd like to. You have to keep the numbers down so that it is sufficient for everyone gets a chance. There's got to be a cut-off somewhere. There are lots of really class players that will be disappointed."

Ireland lock Paul O'Connell

"I am delighted to be on the tour.

"I am probably a little bit lucky to be on the tour considering I haven't played a lot of international rugby this season and just coming back from the injury.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be going on the plane."

Wales winger George North

"Sam is a good friend of mine and I've worked closely with him for many years. To see someone work so hard to develop his own game pushes everyone's standards up. He is always leading from the front.

"As a young player, looking at someone like that drives you forward and I'm chuffed to bits for Sam to get that honour."

England lock Geoff Parling

"It's great news. Hopefully the experiences that we can get from different players and from playing in a different environment and against a different team will be good for us next season.

"If we can use all the experience to drive forward then it's great news."

Scotland winger Sean Maitland

"It's been a rollercoaster. I came over here with goals in mind to achieve, firstly to represent Scotland. That happened and what an experience the Six Nations was.

"It just happened to be a British and Irish Lions year and I'm very lucky to be named in the squad. There is a lot of quality and it will be difficult to get into the team. The hard work starts now."

Scotland lock Richie Gray

"I am absolutely over the moon. I'm chuffed to bits and just trying to settle down a bit now. I found out at 11, I think like most it was a pretty nerve-wrecking 10/15 minutes. I am just over the moon... myself, family and friends are delighted. I have had a few injuries over the course of the season but over the course of the last six to eight I was able to get myself in pretty good condition so I am happy where I am at physically. The call, yes it was a bit of a surprise so it makes for a great feeling."

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea

"He captained the England team that beat the All Blacks, captained four wins in a row in the Six Nations, he won two man-of-the-match awards.

"Disappointment down in Wales, but if you were judging it on the one game, after the Wales-Ireland game there would probably be no Welsh player in there. They had lost seven games in a row going into that."

Sky Sports pundit Stuart Barnes on Jonny Wilkinson's omission

"We need to know whether Wilkinson is available or not. If Wilkinson was available to join the party after the French final, if Toulon get there, then I find it utterly mystifying. Because as I said before Jonny Sexton is going to be the Lions fly-half barring accident. The next fly-half, his job will be to close out the game and Wilkinson is the best in the world at doing it. He has weaknesses but his weaknesses are the same as Owen Farrell's and his strengths are stronger than Owen Farrell's."

Sky Sports pundit Will Greenwood on Sam Warburton

"What I love is having a captain as a number seven. If Australia represent a threat at the break down then get your captain at seven. It is difficult for referees to make tough calls and keep penalising a captain.

"When was the last time a Lions captain got sin-binned? So it is quick a clever thought process going in."

Paper talk

Journalist Paul McCartney looks at the Jonny Wilkinson story in The Times, in which the Toulon No 10 claims: "It was a hugely proud moment for me to be called by Warren Gatland, to be told that they were thinking of me in this way.

"I was phenomenally proud to be considered for the Lions, so it's very disappointing that I'm unavailable."

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