With this year’s British & Irish Lions tour now in the books, we’ve taken a bold stab at the Test team that could take on Australia in 2025.
Planet Rugby’s British and Irish Lions XV for 2025
15 Hugo Keenan (Leinster and Ireland): The 25-year-old was viewed as a possible bolter for the 2021 Lions tour of South Africa but missed out on selection with the more experienced duo of Stuart Hogg and Liam Williams getting the nod ahead of him. Those players are aged 29 and 30 respectively which augurs well for Keenan, who can also play on the wing. A superb counter-attacker and blessed with plenty of pace, there is still room for improvement and if he does that, he should be part of the Lions squad in 2025.
14 Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester and Wales): The 20-year-old did not get a look-in during the Test series against the Springboks but he hardly put a foot wrong during the Lions tour matches against the provincial sides. Blessed with blistering pace, and a great step, the future looks bright for the young Welshman and if he continues on his current upward trajectory, he will be one of the Lions’ stars against the Wallabies.
13 Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors and England): The Worcester powerhouse has yet to make a huge impact with the Red Rose but much of that was down to the team’s general struggles in the Autumn Nations Cup and Six Nations. If Eddie Jones can find a way of getting the ball into Lawrence’s hands, he will be a destructive presence. His athletic qualities are obvious but the centre also has a good skill set and excellent rugby brain, and we expect to see him thrive over the next four years.
12 Cameron Redpath (Bath and Scotland): The 21-year-old made his international debut during Scotland’s memorable triumph over England in this year’s Six Nations but a neck injury ruled him out of the rest of that tournament and he also ruptured knee ligaments in a club game after that. That was a real pity as Redpath is blessed with great playmaking skills and also has an eye for a gap. If he can overcome his injury problems and continues to shine at Test level over a sustained period of time, he should be a shoo-in for Lions selection in 2025.
11 Josh Adams (Cardiff and Wales): The Welshman, who was unlucky to play in only the final Lions Test against the Springboks, should still be a contender for the Lions’ tour to Australia as he will just be 30 when that comes around. Recognised as one of the best finishers in the game, after being the leading try-scorer at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and on this year’s Lions tour, Adams should be a certainty in four years’ time if he continues with his current form.
10 Marcus Smith (Harlequins and England): Possibly the easiest selection of this bunch as 22-year-old Smith has shown time and again he’s one for not just the future but now. After starring for both Harlequins and England, he was a late call-up to the 2021 Lions tour and should now be a firm fixture in Eddie Jones’ plans moving forward. Smith’s attacking brand of rugby is a sight to behold and with many fly-halves getting on in years, the 2025 shirt is surely his.
9 Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors): The 20-year-old’s inclusion might surprise some but there’s genuine excitement about this Glasgow half-back’s future in the game. His first start for the Warriors saw him claim the man-of-the-match award and after already being included in a Scotland training squad, he’s expected to go on to become a fixture in Gregor Townsend’s side. Dobie is very highly rated and has a great all-round game, with his work around the fringes a major weapon in his arsenal.
8 Caelan Doris (Leinster and Ireland): Those who feared the retirement of Jamie Heaslip in 2018 would leave a sizeable gap at number eight for Leinster and Ireland were soon proved wrong as there’s since been Jack Conan, Doris and Max Deegan shining in that jersey ever since. Conan was the starter for the Lions in 2021 but we just feel there is greater potential in Doris, not just because he is six years the junior of his team-mate. Expect this ball playing and seriously mobile star to now kick on.
7 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks and England): It’s amazing to think that Curry is just 23 years of age. With so much experience at club and international level already in the bank, one expects that knowledge will stand him in good stead for his continued journey at the highest echelon of the sport. Such a tough competitor who nailed down the seven jersey for the Lions in 2021, expect him to be an even smarter player when he runs out to face Australia in four years’ time.
6 Ryan Baird (Leinster and Ireland): There is so much excitement surrounding the versatile Leinster forward and the coming seasons will surely see him take the next step in his career. Already pulling up trees for his province – scoring tries for fun in the blue shirt – Baird’s path is set to lead to more international recognition and then a Lions starting jersey against the Wallabies. Blessed with ridiculous pace and with power and skills to boot, he’s a special talent.
5 James Ryan (Leinster and Ireland): One of the unfortunate players to miss out in 2021 after suffering a dip in form following rugby’s restart in August 2020. Prior to the 2019 World Cup, Ryan appeared nailed on to be starting in South Africa but the Leinster star has struggled to make the same impact since. He is still immensely talented, however, and by the 2025 tour to Australia, the second-row should be reaching his peak.
4 Maro Itoje (Saracens and England): Having already starred on two Lions tours, the outstanding lock will only be 30 by the time the next series kicks off. There isn’t much more to say about Itoje other than that he’s one of the best locks in the world and showed why in South Africa. He is an incredible athlete, superb in the technical aspects and, injury-depending, will be a certainty to go to Australia.
3 Tadhg Furlong (Leinster and Ireland): Has now made six consecutive Test starts for the Lions and should make it nine when they face Australia. Andrew Porter is pushing him hard for an Ireland starting spot but Furlong remains one of the best forwards in the world and should still be playing at a very high level in 2025. Yes, the prop may not be quite as dynamic in the loose once he gets past 30 but he is still improving technically and experience counts for a huge amount at tighthead.
2 Alfie Barbeary (Wasps): Luke Cowan-Dickie should still be around, while Ronan Kelleher will be there or thereabouts, but Barbeary is rated as one of the top talents in the northern hemisphere. The forward has played all of his club rugby in the back-row so far but expect him to be firmly entrenched in the front-row by 2025. He is superb around the field – demonstrated by the fact he also played in the centres at school – and will no doubt be part of the England squad sooner rather than later.
1 Josh Wycherley (Munster): Not yet capped by Ireland but has shown immense promise for his provincial side, particularly when dismantling Clermont Auvergne tighthead Rabah Slimani during a Champions Cup tie at the end of 2020. With Cian Healy and Dave Kilcoyne both the wrong side of 30, Wycherley should start getting some game time at international level soon, where he can lay down a marker for the next Lions tour. A strong scrummager and excellent around the park, the 22-year-old has everything in his armoury to be an outstanding loosehead.
What next for the Lions?
Mark Smith and Adam Kyriacou from the Planet Rugby Show discuss what comes next for the British and Irish Lions following their series loss to South Africa.