By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs and England star Jack Nowell says it’s a “dream come true” to have been named in the British & Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand this summer.
The 24-year-old Cornishman was today named in Warren Gatland’s 41-man squad for the tour, which begins on June 3 and ends on July 8.
Nowell, who has scored 11 tries in 23 appearances for England, will make history by becoming the first player to be included in the squad whilst playing for the Chiefs.
He is one of 16 England players named in the tour party with Wales providing 12, Ireland 11 and two from Scotland.
Nowell said: “It’s pretty surreal at the minute, I just literally found out. I was watching the announcement on the TV with the boys and my named got called out!
“The fact I was with the boys at the time made it even more special. You kind of get a feeling how much it means to them as well and obviously it’s down to them that I got into an England shirt in the first place
“I’m so excited and it’s reward for all that hard work that people have put into me over the years. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it.”
Before Nowell jets off to New Zealand, he insists he still has work to do with the Chiefs as they look to finish their season on a high.
“I’ve still got lots to do with the club before I go and we all want a strong finish to the season.”
However, facing the All Blacks in their own back yard is the acid test for any player and Nowell knows the challenge that lies ahead.
“It’s the ultimate place to go and play,” he added. “They are the No.1 team in the world, so it’s going to be a massive test for all of us going out there. That said, it’s exciting that I’ll be going there and hopefully playing with some of the best players in the world.”
2017 British and Irish Lions squad
Forwards: Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Peter O’Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales)
Backs: Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te’o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England)
The Lions’ tour of New Zealand begins on June 3, and the final test match takes place on July 8 in Auckland.