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."

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine