'I would happily pick 15 English players': Warren Gatland moves to clarify comments regarding England players

Lions coach said he was wary of the 'circus' which can follow England players

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has spoken to clarify a statement that appeared yesterday in an interview with the Evening Standard, where he referenced England’s doomed Rugby World Cup campaign in New Zealand, and the controversy that came with it.

Gatland told the Daily Telegraph: “The last thing I would ever do is limit the number of English players. There is absolutely no limit to the number of any players from any nation we will pick if they are worthy of a place on the tour.

“I would happily pick 15 English players in the first Test at Brisbane if I thought they were the best 15 players for the job,” he continued. “The only consideration for a Lions coach is to get the best 15 on the park to do the job. That’s paramount - I’m not remotely bothered which country they come from.”

Gatland has said in the original interview that “the best players will be selected”, but he also mentioned “it’s just being aware of potential issues that may arise”. He also cited the “circus” that was created around Martin Johnson’s squad, and that he was concerned that it could happen again should the players be the target of a media sting or set-up.

“When I first started at Wales I remember I once picked 13 (from the) Ospreys for one of my early Tests in charge,” Gatland stated - a reference to the team that started the 2008 RBS 6 Nations opener against England when Wales triumphed 26-19 for their first win at Twickenham in 20 years. Indeed, nearly the entire starting line-up that day hailed from the Neath-Swansea side, with former Cardiff Blues flanker Martyn Williams and Llanelli Scarlets wing Mark Jones the only players to play away from the Ospreys.

Rugby Football Union chairman Bill Beaumont issued a response to Gatland’s comments yesterday by reminding everyone of the change in mentality under new coach Stuart Lancaster.

“It is well documented the strong culture and sense of responsibility on and off the pitch that this England team possesses,” said the former Lions captain. “English players have always represented the Lions with enormous pride. Wearing the Lions shirt, whether captain or player, is something that all English players take very seriously. This will undoubtedly continue for those that get picked this time.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Life and Style
Shoulder of lamb with herb and hazelnut dressing
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing