British and Irish Lions: Marcus Smith and Danny Care emerge as shock potential picks for summer tour

Marcus Smith and Danny Care have emerged as shock potential picks for the British and Irish Lions squad ahead of this summer’s tour of South Africa.

Harlequins duo Smith and Care are on Lions head coach Warren Gatland’s long-list of candidates, as well as Exeter back-rower Sam Simmonds and Bath scrum-half Ben Spencer.

All four players are under consideration for the tour despite not being part of Eddie Jones’ England squad.

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Smith has been named in training squads by Jones in the past but has never been capped by his country. However, he has been in excellent form for Harlequins – who are fourth in the Premiership – this season.

His inclusion would come as a shock, given Gatland has Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton, Finn Russell and Dan Biggar to consider as his options at fly-half.

Care, 34, has 84 England caps but has not played for his country since 2018. But like Smith, he has impressed at club level in recent months, and could also be aided by fellow scrum-half Ben Youngs’ decision to rule himself out of Lions selection for family reasons.

Like Care, Simmonds last played for England in 2018, but he has excelled at club level since then. The 26-year-old helped Exeter to the Premiership and European Champions Cup titles in 2020, after which he was named European Player of the Year.

Spencer has played for England more recently, having come off the bench in their World Cup final defeat to South Africa in 2019.

However, he was not part of the original squad for the tournament and was flown in ahead of the final as a late addition. The 28-year-old has just four caps for his country.

Jones’ selection decisions have come under scrutiny, particularly following England’s poor performances during this year’s Six Nations.

They went into the tournament as the reigning champions, but losses to Scotland, Wales and Ireland saw them finish fifth.

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