'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.”
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant