February 23, 2017

Warren Gatland still undecided on captain for Lions tour

17 February 2017, 03:26 | Winifred Adams

Dylan Hartley has slipped behind Alun Wyn Jones in the race to lead the Lions says Gavin Hastings

Dylan Hartley has slipped behind Alun Wyn Jones in the race to lead the Lions says Gavin Hastings

16 February 2017 Land Rover is scouring grassroots rugby for people who embody the game's values of resilience, integrity and passion - to reward them with a trip to New Zealand for the British & Irish Lions Tour.

Gatland, speaking at a promotion for sponsors Land Rover in London, discussed Sexton's struggle with injury and was asked if there was a chance he may be left behind because he hasn't had game time. "Absolutely there's a lot of competition for a lot of places".

'I think more than ever it's about the senior players that can pull everyone in the right direction'.

"He's an experienced player, been out there before, playing pretty well".

"This is not about picking 36 or 40 players; it's about going down and being good enough to win a test series for the first time in 40 odd years".

The Lions will be bidding to win just their second series in New Zealand following their celebrated 1971 triumph when they face the All Blacks in a three-Test campaign in June and July.

Land Rover ambassador and former British & Irish Lions winning captain Martin Johnson, added: "When you become a British & Irish Lion you realise that so numerous aspects that make rugby special and unique are heightened, and that the values you learnt playing grassroots rugby are just as relevant at the pinnacle of the game".

"Johnny is well aware".

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"Just by its very nature, it's a big loss but something that Scotland must deal with as its part and parcel of rugby at whatever level you play so it's something the guys must get on with and regroup, someone's loss is someone else's opportunity to gain".

"He's a world-class quality player and I want to see him back on the field".

"But certainly on the form of the first two games he is looking very sharp and I believe without a doubt he will be on the plane to New Zealand so that's good from a Scottish point of view but equally from a Lions point of view as well".

"The key is trying to hold the body together". It's going to be a pretty attritional tour. The last thing Gatland wants to do is upset the players, press, or rugby public, by giving us a sniff of who he thinks will be in or out. No possibly not in this tournament, but we will see going forward.

Gatland added it would not just be his judgment but a collective decision among the coaches when it comes to picking the final squad.

He has not spoken to his Lions coaching team yet - "I have purposely let them concentrate on their own jobs and their own roles and made sure there have been no distractions for them" - but plans to "come together in a few weeks and really start, not finalise, but talk about individuals that have been impressing us".

"I will have the final say, but it won't be exclusively my selection, everyone will have a huge amount of input".

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