Lions tour manager Gerald Davies believes all 35 or 36 players selected in the Lions touring party on Tuesday will arrive in South Africa on an equal footing.
Davies and head coach Ian McGeechan announce the 2009 Lions at 1.30pm tomorrow, with speculation continuing as to which players will earn the honour to represent all four Home Unions.
Players names are being touted left, right and centre, with numerous journalists and supporters compiling lists of definite, probable and possible tourists, as well as already predicting who they expect to line up for the Lions in the first international against the Springboks on June 20.
Davies insists that once the squad has been finalised, however, every single squad member will be given ample opportunity to push for a Test place against the might of the world champion Boks.
“Every player who goes on the tour must believe he has a chance of getting into the Test team,” said Dvies, who was a Test Lion himself back in 1971.
”That’s the raison d’être for any competitor. Take that opportunity away and you take a lot of meaning from the player.
”There will be hard decisions on the tour which every player must accept but they must believe they have a chance, otherwise why should they be there?”
On every Lions tour to date, at least one player has done more than expected and forced their way into Test reckoning having been perceived by outsiders as a mid-week Lion.
In 1997, the likes of Paul Wallace, Tom Smith and Jeremy Davidson all surpassed the expectations of the majority of the general sporting public, while in 2001 and 2005, Rob Henderson, Dafydd James, Jason Robinson and Ryan Jones all shone for the Lions in the Test arena.
“A Lions tour is unpredictable, players who may not be first choice for their respective countries come through,” added Davies.
”Some players respond to the extra demands of a Lions tour, others who you expect to be good fall by the wayside, they can’t take what the Lions have to offer.
”We will pick those we believe to be the best available, regardless of nationality – it’s not about the colour of their jersey, it’s whether they are good enough.”