He looked a shoo-in in 2020, but Scotland’s form mid-Six Nations dipped a little and Price wobbled a bit. But he’s another mini Faf; a high-tempo exponent, who loves the ball in play and the game moving. He will make sure the Springboks have no easy targets.
Owen Farrell (England and Saracens)
One of life’s competitors, one of life’s Lions. Rugby isn’t a popularity contest and, a bit like Sergio Ramos at Real Madrid, if he doesn’t play for you, you’re not a fan, but if he does then you cannot imagine him ever being left out.
Dan Biggar (Wales and Northampton)
I am delighted for him. Biggar has not always been the most popular or fashionable choice of fly-half in the Valleys, but I’ve never quite understood why? He plays with his heart on his sleeve, he’s a nerveless goalkicker, is the best in the world under the high ball, smashes everything and can properly play. The player I’m most pleased for.
Finn Russell (Scotland and Racing 92)
Russell is the player people scroll to first to see whether he received the call. If you’re Scottish, you simply couldn’t have believed he was never going to go but, for everyone else, Gatland and Russell always felt like the odd couple. As well as being physical, however, Gatland likes his teams to play and there’s no better threader of passes or short-range kicker than Russell.
Robbie Henshaw (Ireland and Leinster)
Henshaw was the best 12 of the Six Nations; tasked with a slightly broader remit by Farrell than Schmidt, to be able to play as well as carry. He balanced that beautifully and his battle with Damian De Allende could be box office; they both do their number-one roles better than anyone, which is getting across the gainline.
Bundee Aki (Ireland and Connacht)
Aki is a carbon copy of Robbie Henshaw and if you want a centre to match the South Africans for physicality and stand up to the Springbok back-row charging into the midfield, then the Irish centre is your man. A phenomenal breakdown exponent, too, who will be a great tourist.
Chris Harris (Scotland and Gloucester)