Warren Gatland is insistent that the team he has selected for the Lions tour of New Zealand is the right one. Despite some controversial selections and dismissals, the man chosen to lead the way for the Lions has stated that his choices were based on skill and assets, not on where they were from.
Following the announcement of the Squad selected to represent The British and Irish Lions, Warren Gatland has been heavily criticized. His selections included 16 players from England, 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland and just 2 from Scotland. These numbers have appeared somewhat surprising, considering that Wales finished fifth in the Six Nations tournament that took place earlier this year. A larger proportion of players from the teams finishing higher than Wales would have been expected.
It has been said by fans and representatives of the sport that the squad is heavily built on players from Gatland’s own Welsh team, suggesting that his selections could be bias. Is this the case? Or has he actually put some thought into what he is planning for his trip to the other side of the world?
According to the head coach nationality wasn’t a consideration at all during the selection process. The nationalities of those selected for the Lions squad, did not have an impact on the final selection of players. In fact 53 year old Gatland, claimed that he didn’t even realise the split in numbers.
He has said that they didn’t look at the numbers involved. The selections were made by the grouping of players that were the best for each position, then individuals were chosen from that point.
Surprisingly England’s Dylan Hartley was not chosen, in spite of the fact that he has been invaluable to England since he was appointed to captain England’s international squad by Eddie Jones.
The chosen hookers are instead Rory Best from Ireland, Jamie George from England and Ken Owens from Wales.
George Ford has also been left off the squad in favour of Johnny Sexton from Ireland, Dan Biggar from Gatland’s own Welsh team and Owen Farrell from England who really had to be included in the choices for the number 10 position.
Surprisingly Ireland’s Donnacha Ryan, England’s Joe Launchbury and Scotland brothers Jonny and Richie Gray were also left out of Gatland’s 41 man selection.
There was said to have been a debate concerning that position of hooker and whether or not Hartley should have been selected. Had they chosen the England Captain either Jamie George, Rory Best or Ken Owens would have had to have been left out and owing to their performances during the Six Nations it was decided that leaving them out was not an option. Apparently Dylan Hartley has simply been unlucky!
There was also plenty to be said of Launchbury, Donnacha Ryan and the Gray brothers. However, ultimately selection comes down to the opinion of those that have been best placed to make the right decisions for the Lions. Gatland said that the matter of opinion is what makes the selection process so interesting. No matter who he had selected someone would have had something to say about the final selection.
Author Lisa Wood
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