Three Lions: Edinburgh trio selected for Lions tour
Edinburgh Rugby trio Hamish Watson, Duhan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland have been named in the 2021 British & Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa this summer.
The Scotland stars are all named in Head Coach Warren Gatland's 37-man touring squad for the 2021 Lions Series.
On his selction, Gatland said: “We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa.
“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position. We saw some outstanding performances in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.
“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the World Champions. We've left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.
“Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today.”
2021 British & Irish Lions squad for the Lions Series in South Africa
Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) – Wing
Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) – Centre
Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) – Fly-half #821
Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) – Centre #822
Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) – Scrum-half
Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) – Fly-half #780
Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) – Centre
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Centre #824
Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) – Full-back #783
Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) – Scrum-half #790
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – Scrum-half
Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) – Wing
Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) – Fly-half #835
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Wing
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) – Wing #816
Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) – Full-back #833
Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) – Second row
Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Back row
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Hooker
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) – Back row
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – Prop
Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) – Back row #779
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Prop #818
Jamie George (Saracens, England) – Hooker #819
Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) – Second row #808
Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Second row
Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) – Second row #825
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) (Captain) – Second row #761
Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) – Prop
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) – Second row #826
Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) – Hooker #829
Andrew Porter (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) – Prop
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) – Back row
Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Prop
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales) – Back row #786
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) – Prop #787
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) – Back row
One of the most destructive ball carriers in the northern hemisphere, Hamish Watson’s consistent excellence was rewarded in being named the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship ahead of some stellar names.
Watson - who penned a new long-tern deal with the club in January - has been a star since making his Edinburgh Rugby debut in 2011 and has since developed his game to a point where he is regarded as one of world rugby's premier flankers.
An elite ball carrier, nicknamed pinball for his ability to bounce off tackles in the loose, Watson made his 100th Edinburgh Rugby appearance in the 1872 Cup derby against Glasgow Warriors in April 2019.
Competition for back-row inclusion at British & Irish Lions level is arguably as fierce as any other area of the squad, and so Watson’s call-up – he is the first Scot in that area to be picked since Simon Taylor (both 2001 and 2005) and Jason White (2005) – is testament to his standing in the game.
6ft 4in wing Duhan van der Merwe joined the club in the summer of 2017 and immediately affirmed his popularity with 10 tries in his debut season.
The Springbok age-grade internationalist joined the club from Top 14 club Montpellier, where he made three league appearances for the senior side and has crossed the whitewash on each occasion.
Van der Merwe's scoring abilities continued during the 2018/19 season, while his brace of intercepted tries against Glasgow Warriors in December 2018's 1872 Cup win at BT Murrayfield will live long in the memory of the capital support.
Having qualified to play for Scotland in 2020, three years on from the beginning of some blistering displays for Edinburgh, winger Duhan van der Merwe has made the sort of impact on the international scene that many hoped he would.
A devastating strike runner, he scored a try on debut against Georgia at BT Murrayfield last year, before going on to star, and score, in notable away wins in England and France, his sheer presence enough to make opposing defences scramble for cover.
Hawick-born Rory Sutherland joined the club on a FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy deal in 2014 as a reward for his form with club side Gala.
Sutherland - who is fast approaching 100 appearances for the capital side - has bounced back from injury magnificently in recent years, making his mark at both club level and on the international stage.
A 2016 Scotland debut saw Sutherland earn three caps in quick succession, but a series of injury complications meant his international involvement was curtailed for four years, before a triumphant return for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations campaign.
The Hawick scrummager has since become a mainstay of a terrific Scotland pack who compete and dominate opposing forwards in a way not seen for many a year. Indeed, Sutherland has only been on the losing side three times in his past 11 Test matches, as if to highlight the importance of this international return.