- Andy Farrell on the inclusion of England duo Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola
- Ten England players included in Gatland's touring party
England Backs Coach Andy Farrell outlined the achievement of Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell after the pair were selected to tour Australia with the British and Irish Lions, just two years after appearing for England Under 20 in the 2011 Junior World Championship final.
Saracens pair Farrell, 21, and Vunipola, 22, discovered they were part of Warren Gatland’s 37-man touring party at a press conference this morning, after international careers of just 16 caps and nine caps respectively.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the announcement Farrell Senior, who will take charge of the Lions’ defence for the 10-game tour, said it had been two years of startling progression.
“It’s been quite some two years for them,” he said. “Owen has had a little bit longer of professional football and played in some big games as a 19 or 20 year old, with Premiership finals and so on. He’s had big game experience but it is still a tremendous achievement at 21.
“But for Mako, what a story that is. He was trying to get to grips with what life as a professional rugby player was like 12 months ago but he soon got to grips with it and he’s taken the Premiership and the international stage by storm this year.
“It’s going to be an exciting tour for both of them.”
Farrell and Vunipola are part of a 10-strong England contingent, joined by Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers) and Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers).
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster added: “Being selected by the British & Irish Lions is a major honour and I know the England players named in the squad today will do the jersey proud.
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“I’m sure they will contribute a great deal to the tour and coming into a new environment with the best players from Ireland, Scotland and Wales will only enhance their development as players and people.
“Taking on Australia away from home in three Tests is a great challenge but one I know they will relish. Everyone involved in England Rugby will be cheering them on.”
The 10-match tour opens against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1 with Tests against Australia on June 22 (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane), June 29 (Etihad Stadium, Melbourne) and July 6 (ANZ Stadium, Sydney).
2013 British and Irish Lions squad
Full backs: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Stuart Hogg (Scotland, Glasgow Warriors), Rob Kearney (Ireland, Leinster)
Wings: Tommy Bowe (Ireland, Ulster), Alex Cuthbert (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Sean Maitland (Scotland, Glasgow Warriors), George North (Wales, Scarlets)
Centres: Jonathan Davies (Wales, Scarlets), Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland, Leinster), Jamie Roberts (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Manusamoa Tuilagi (England, Leicester Tigers)
Fly halves: Owen Farrell (England, Saracens), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland, Leinster)
Scrum halves: Conor Murray (Ireland, Munster), Mike Phillips (Wales, Bayonne), Ben Youngs (England, Leicester Tigers)
Props: Dan Cole (England, Leicester Tigers), Cian Healy (Ireland, Leinster), Gethin Jenkins (Wales, Toulon), Adam Jones (Wales, Ospreys), Matt Stevens (England, Saracens), Mako Vunipola (England, Saracens)
Hookers: Dylan Hartley (England, Northampton Saints), Richard Hibbard (Wales, Ospreys), Tom Youngs (England, Leicester Tigers)
Locks: Ian Evans (Wales, Ospreys), Richie Gray (Scotland, Sale Sharks), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, Ospreys), Paul O'Connell (Ireland, Munster), Geoff Parling (England, Leicester Tigers)
Back rows: Tom Croft (England, Leicester Tigers), Toby Faletau (Wales, Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland, Leinster), Dan Lydiate (Wales, Newport Gwent Dragons), Sean O'Brien (Ireland, Leinster), Justin Tipuric (Wales, Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Wales, Cardiff Blues)