Warren Gatland branded Tom Croft the unluckiest player in Britain and Ireland after he was left out of the Lions squad for the tour of South Africa.
Lions head coach Ian McGeechan has selected a 37-man squad with a heavy accent on brute force, and with the clear intention of taking the Springboks on at their own game.
That confrontational philosophy also accounted for Steve Borthwick, who becomes the first England captain to miss a Lions tour since Phil de Glanville in 1997.
Wales captain Ryan Jones and Scotland skipper Mike Blair were also overlooked - but Croft, the athletic Leicester flanker, is widely considered to be the biggest selection casualty of them all.
Instead of Croft and Borthwick, the Lions opted for the likes of abrasive Irish veteran Alan Quinlan in the back row and the more physical England lock Simon Shaw.
“We have picked beasts for this tour. It is going to be a physical tour,” explained defence coach Shaun Edwards.
“South Africa probably have the biggest pack on the planet and they can play as well. I think our selection reflects that and we have picked some big guys in there to meet that challenge.”
McGeechan’s decision to overlook Borthwick, Croft and the surprise omission of London Irish full-back Delon Armitage, reduced the Lions’ England contingent to just eight - the lowest red rose representation since 1977.
Jonny Wilkinson was not considered due to injury while the likes of Danny Cipriani, Mark Cueto, Mike Tindall, Josh Lewsey, Nick Easter and Tom Rees were all overlooked.
Gatland accepted the Lions’ lineout options were weakened without Croft but the agile Leicester flanker has been added to the standby list.
“Tom was very, very close. He is a very good athlete, a good lineout forward and played well for England. He is very, very unlucky I think,” said Gatland.
“There was serious debate about combinations, experience, players fighting in the trenches if they had to.
“We have got a big pack with players we know who are physical but who can also carry the ball. Nathan Hines is like that, Simon Shaw too.
“I thought Shaw’s inclusion in the England pack during the Six Nations was a major factor in their improvement. He is a big man, he has played in big matches, big finals before and he is experienced.”