Stuart Lancaster receives assurances from Warren Gatland over selecting England players for Lions tour
The Lions coach tells his England counterpart selections will be made 'on merit and merit alone'
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has spoken with British and Irish Lions leader Warren Gatland to seek assurances that his selections for the summer tour to Australia will be based “on merit and merit alone”. The news comes in a turbulent week for Gatland, after it emerged he had concerns about the media attention that English players could potentially generate should they make the final-cut.
Gatland cleared up his comments yesterday by declaring “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,” and the latest comments from Lancaster will have somewhat settled the nerves of those Red Rose players hoping to be in the squad.
“I had a good chat with Warren Gatland last night and he reassured me that selection would be based on merit and merit alone,” the current England boss said. “I've relayed that to the squad and also gave him my views on the players in our side I think are in form at the moment.”
With England sitting at the summit of the RBS 6 Nations after two impressive performances against Scotland and Ireland, a number of players are putting their hands up to be considered for the Lions – none more so than captain Chris Robshaw, who has emerged as a leading candidate to lead the side Down Under despite Gatland expressing his belief that Robshaw wouldn’t even be selected just a few months ago.
The change in the teams mentality since Martin Johnson’s reign ended has been a well-publicised affair, with Lancaster putting forward that change as to why his players should be considered by the former Wasps boss.
“There was a lot of comment when I took over about the World Cup and behaviour during the tournament,” Lancaster continued. “It was part and parcel of the job. It doesn't reflect where we are as a group at the moment. The player's behaviour since I've been involved has been excellent, both on and off the pitch."
Gatland – along with the rest of the rugby world – had taken note of the ill-fated 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign, especially their ability to attract attention away from the pitch. The New Zealander noted that "they are not always popular with other countries because of the history" and that "people like having a pop at them”, while he also acknowledged the "circus" that surrounded Johnson’s side.
However, Gatland clarified his words yesterday admitting “hand on heart, I would never be able to look myself in the mirror if we didn't pick a player who deserved to go on tour just because he was English”. Those words, along with Lancaster’s, will ease the tensions between the two camps ahead of such an eagerly anticipated summer tour.
How Liverpool can catch Manchester United and secure Champions League football next season
Arsenal transfer news: Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini set for showdown summer talks over future
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger reveals: 'We are not close to signing anybody. We need to lose some players'
Danny Jones: Keighley Cougars half-back dies after cardiac arrest during league game
Chelsea season player ratings: Grading the entire squad of the new Premier League champions
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils