British and Irish Lions 2013: Chris Robshaw offered chance of Lions reprieve by Warren Gatland - if injuries call for it

England captain among 30 players put on tour standby in case of injury crisis Down Under

Chris Robshaw could still play a part for the British and Irish Lions despite being given the summer off by Stuart Lancaster, the England coach. The red rose captain was devastated at being overlooked by Warren Gatland for the tour to Australia but the Lions coach has dangled a potential lifeline.

Robshaw was one of five senior England players Lancaster chose not to take to Argentina in the wake of a gruelling campaign for club and country but, as the Lions squad gathered together for the first time on Monday, Gatland revealed he or his coaching staff have made those not in action this summer aware that they could still be called up should injury demand replacements – an inevitability on a Lions tour.

Gatland has identified some 30 players from whom replacements would be chosen – Lions officials need a wish list in order to arrange visas at short notice – and among them are those left at home by England.

As well as Robshaw, Danny Care, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt and Toby Flood have been excused England's two-Test tour to Argentina.

"The few players who have been rested are not going to be discounted from potentially going on tour," said Gatland. "That's been communicated to a few of those players."

The squad met up at a hotel in west London yesterday minus Brian O'Driscoll, who remained in Dublin for treatment on his back. He is expected to be fit for Friday's Amlin Cup final for Leinster.

Twenty-two of the squad will head for Wales today to begin preparations in earnest – 14 still have club duties: Leicester will face Northampton in the Premiership final and Ulster take on Leinster in the Pro12 final, as well as the Amlin Cup final for the Leinster six.

Among those heading for Wales will be Owen Farrell, who has endured a troubled end to his season, culminating in Saracens' home defeat to Northampton in the Premiership semi-finals on Sunday. He had another poor game, following similar high-profile setbacks in the Heineken Cup – when he was overshadowed by Jonny Wilkinson – and the Six Nations finale in Cardiff. "It's been tough for him," admitted Gatland.

The choice of only two No 10s for the 10-game tour is a gamble by Gatland – the versatile Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg is seen as back-up – and Farrell's form coming into the tour is a concern.

"It does give us an opportunity to work with him over the next two weeks in terms of preparing, particularly for that first game [against the Barbarians on 1 June]," said Gatland. "He's one of those players who respond really well to adversity and can come back fighting. It is one of the reasons we like him so much. He is a strong character, mentally tough as well. He will react well."

Farrell received similar backing from the man with whom he will contest the No 10 shirt, the Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton. "He's got a pretty good character, he's resilient," said Sexton. "He's had some pretty big performances for England and Saracens over the last few years."

Sexton returned to Dublin last night with his Leinster team-mates and, although he remains the likeliest to start the first Test in Brisbane on 22 June, Farrell does have the initial advantage of being involved from the off in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales' training centre, today. "It will be a head start," said Sexton.

With the Irishman not rejoining the squad until after the Pro12 final on 25 May – the team departs two days later – Farrell should get first go against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on 1 June. In all, there are six games before the first Test and Sexton believes having just two players competing for the fly-half spot means each will receive much-needed game time.

"As a 10, the more time you get the better, in terms of guys getting to know you and you getting to know the guys – you're one of the most important positions in that regard," said Sexton. "Guys need to know how you play. The more important time I'm on the pitch the better."

The staggered arrival of the players, as well as the accompanying risk of injury from playing until hours before the plane leaves for Hong Kong, has proved a cause of frustration for Gatland. Bringing together the four rugby corners of Britain and Ireland is made even more challenging by the build-up, and Gatland believes arrangements have to change for future tours.

"It is not the easiest thing to do in terms of preparation," said the New Zealander. "Going forward, if you are going to take a Lions tour seriously you do need to make sure you get adequate preparation time to make a good fist of it. It's about trying to fit that into the [domestic] schedule. You need cooperation from the four governing bodies and competition organisers. I can't change the schedule but my ideal thing would be having two weeks here for preparing before we go on tour."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor