Warren Gatland Has A Message To All Irish Players Hoping To Make The Lions Squad
Before you say it, no it’s not get a Welsh passport.
British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has a message to all of the Irish players hoping to make the squad next summer. Many media outlets have predicted that Ireland will not have a huge input on the squad come next summer due to England’s prominence at the moment and Gatland’s relationship with Wales.
In many of the predicted squads, Ireland only have a few names listed but Gatland thinks that they in fact have a distinct advantage as they will get two cracks at the All Blacks over the next few weeks as part of their November series.
Speaking to the42, Gatland had some interesting comments to make:
“The Welsh boys have gone in the summer so it’s been a good experience for them. It’s great that Ireland is the only northern hemisphere team [of England, Scotland and Wales] to play the All Blacks from a Lions perspective; that’s a huge bonus and huge opportunity for those Irish players to step up and stake a claim basically in terms of a performance against the All Blacks.
“The other thing that’s quite good is that the All Blacks don’t get the opportunity to play the other three nations which potentially leaves them a little bit cold after the November series. The next game the All Blacks are going to play is the first Test against the Lions next year.
“I just really hope the Irish boys do do really well because they have done well against southern hemisphere teams in recent years and it’s a big game in Chicago. There will be a huge amount of Irish support for them going there and then they obviously come back and they’ve a game in Dublin and that’s another massive game.
“If you come out of that as a player and you’ve done really well, the first thing that I’m going to do as a coach is look at that and put a big tick next to your name. I’ll remember that.
“I think both tournaments are a little bit different. The Autumn is a step up but the Six Nations is the bread and butter, our competition, and the players need to perform there and definitely from an Irish point of view if those players do perform over those two games then I’m definitely going to take notice of that.”
There you have it Ireland, put your best foot forward in the two tests against New Zealand and put your hand up for a place on the plane next summer. A victory in one of those test will surely make Gatland sit up.