Dylan Hartley led England to the Six Nations title, but was left out of the British and Irish Lions squad.
Dylan Hartley led England to the Six Nations title, but was left out of the British and Irish Lions squad.
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea face a tough task against Tottenham in the FA Cup. Photo: Phil Noble, Reuters
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea face a tough task against Tottenham in the FA Cup. Photo: Phil Noble, Reuters

DURBAN – As usual, the British and Irish Lions squad announcement has shown an England skipper flames. That’s three on the trot now.

Steve Borthwick didn’t make it eight years back, Chris Robshaw didn’t crack the nod in Oz, and now Dylan Hartley has led England to successive Six Nations titles, and the brink of a world record, but can’t get a look into the squad.

But his understudy Jamie George sneaked in, though – hawe ma, what a cull!

There is room for two Scots in fullback Stuart Hogg and winger Tommy Seymour, though Scotland haven’t had a Lions Test starter since prop Tom Smith in 2001.

There are 11 Irish, 12 Welsh and 16 Englishmen, of which there are some surprises too, such as Jonathan Joseph and Ben Teo’o in, but the dominance of ‘Big Joe’ Launchbury just not enough.

Angazi!

Whatever the team, and given Ireland and England’s current form, this tour should be an absolute humdinger! We will be glued to our screens with two-a-week games at the crack o’ dawn.

Maybe work hours need to shift back to accommodate the madness, or just take leave and join the Sangoma in the Land of the Long White Cloud!

Bookies have New Zealand as overwhelming favourites at 2/10, with the Lions at 7/2. A Kiwi whitewash is favoured at even money, 2-1 to the Kiwis is 15/8, but I fancy the Lions to grab at least one Test.

Perhaps go 1-1 at a salacious 33/1 – and recover the cost of a flight there!

It’s the season of clay in tennis, with the road show in glitzy Monaco. All the big names are there, ahead of Roland Garros.

Rafa Nadal is lining up his 10th Monaco and French titles, starting this weekend, where he has been priced at 3/1.

A tasty pair of FA Cup semis are on, which means the league fare is rather dry. For the real punters, though, there is value and ‘Madibas’ to be made in the relegation race, with the likes of Middlesbrough playing for their livelihoods.

In the cup, Chelsea (17/10) and Tottenham (16/10) is too tight too call.

The approach of each team will be interesting, considering the title race – where they are 1/7 and 5/1 respectively, thanks to a run-in from hell for Spurs.

The draw for 90 minutes in the semis looks a treat at 22/10.

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea face a tough task against Tottenham in the FA Cup. Photo: Phil Noble, Reuters


Arsenal (33/10) then play City on Sunday (7/10), with a draw at 3/1. As a Gooner, let me not jinx this and let you make your own call.

All I am saying is ‘Double chance’, and only one is worth it at 1/1.

Outrights are City at 2/1, Chelsea at 5/2, Spurs at 3/1 and Gooners at 9/2. Get in early if you have your favourite.

Super Rugby has a couple of crackers lined up, but bank on home teams, with the Chiefs the odd visitors out against the Force.

By the time you read this, my beloved Canes may have clocked an easy win at the ‘Cake Tin’, points spread and all, baba.

The Mercury

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