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Few Scottish certainties for Lions tour

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In the year of a Lions tour, the 6 Nations is always a good proving ground for selection.

But this year the tournament hasn’t led to many players being certainties for the flight to Hong Kong and Australia.

The question is, how many Scots will be on the plane after a poor representation on the last Lions tour to South Africa?

There are very few players from any country who will immediately be ‘pencilled in’ for the starting test line up, partly because there are few stand-outs and partly because there’s strong competition for places in certain areas.

And herein lies coach Warren Gatland’s problem in selecting a captain.

The back row will be hard to choose three from, particularly when you consider that all four home nations’ captains played in one of those three positions.

Kelly Brown has a good chance of being picked, not least because he can play in all three of the back row positions and is in good form.

However, I doubt he’ll be captain, as Warburton, Tipuric, Robshaw and O’Brien are all strong contenders too.

Elsewhere, the second row and centre have few outstanding players, which means Jim Hamilton and Richie Gray may have a chance, but I don’t think Sean Lamont or Matt Scott are good enough to be Lions.

Of the two locks, I’d opt for Hamilton over Gray as the latter flatters to deceive internationally.

Scotland have some strength in the back three in Hogg, Maitland and Visser, but I’d only be inclined to take Maitland.

The Kiwi Scot has looked comfortable on the big stage, while Visser still looks naive in defence and Hogg simply lacks game time at that level.

Greig Laidlaw has a good chance of making the squad and could be joined by Ryan Grant. But given the competition for hooker and tight head, I doubt if Euan Murray or Ross Ford will make it.

There ought to be more Scots on the plane than four years ago, but whether any make the Saturday side remains to be seen.