Warren Gatland slammed over selection choices

Author
NZ Herald Staff ,
Section
Rugby,
Publish Date
Monday, 19 June 2017, 6:49PM
 Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach looks on during the British & Irish Lions training session at Beetham Park in Hamilton. (Photo \ Getty Images)
Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach looks on during the British & Irish Lions training session at Beetham Park in Hamilton. (Photo \ Getty Images)

Sir Ian McGeechan has criticised Warren Gatland over his decision to call up six additional players to the Lions squad in New Zealand.

McGeechan, a decorated former player and coach for Scotland and the Lions, used his column in the London Daily Telegraph to take Gatland to task over how he has handled a decision to bolster the tourists with more players.

"I really hope the Lions tour does not become overshadowed by the row over the six call-ups, but I am sorry to say that, for me, it strikes the wrong note," McGeechan wrote.

McGeechan said Gatland should have been looking at form players who only narrowly missed selection in the first place.

"I can understand why Warren Gatland has done what he has. I have got no issues with protecting the Test team by calling up some extra cover for midweek," he wrote.

"But why not call up the players who just missed out on selection in the first place? The ones who deserve to be there, who would give their right arms to be there, rather than some players purely because they happen to be in the right geographical location?

"For many players, being given a Lions jersey is the absolute pinnacle of their careers. For me these call-ups devalue the jersey. They are fine players, but not the best available.

"(England coach) Eddie Jones said he would not stand in the way of any of his England players being called up. He understands what the jersey means. He will be gutted for someone like Joe Launchbury.

McGeechan said it was "shame" the row had over-shadowed the Lions' win over Maori in Rotorua.

"Yes, there is still work to be done in attack, and yes, the All Blacks are another step up again, but the Lions were dominant," he noted.

"The forwards were outstanding, the set-piece excellent. Defensively, the team were outstanding. They pressured the Maoris, forcing them into errors, gradually assuming control.

"The game went a long way to nailing down a few positions for that all-important first Test."

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