Gatland ‘desperately’ wants improved Scottish Lions contingent

Warren Gatland, the head coach of the British & Irish Lions

British and Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland insists he wants there to be an improved Scottish contingent on next hear’s tour to South Africa.

Only Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour made his initial squad for the New Zealand tour in 2017, before Greig Laidlaw was added to the squad to replace Ben Youngs.

And although Allan Dell and Finn Russell joined later, taking the Scottish contingent to five, none were involved in the Teat series.

Richie Gray appeared off the bench for the final quarter of an hour of the third Test in Australia seven years ago, and remains the last Scot to appear in a Lions Test.

Gatland has come in for criticism in Scotland because of the lack of Scots on the 2017 tour, but in an interview with former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton for RugbyPass, Gatland said he hopes that will change next year.

”I’m really, really conscious and I understand it’s important that we have a representation of the four home nations. That is really, really important for me.

“I want to have a good representation of Scottish players. I desperately want that to happen and I hope it does happen.”

Gatland revealed in another recent interview that in selection meetings before the initial 2017 tour party was announced fed, other coaches weren’t keen on taking Seymour on the tour, but Gatland insisted that the Lions could not tour New Zealand with Hogg as the only Scottish representative.

Finn Russell stands with Greig Laidlaw and Allan Dell as part of the British Lions squad 2017.
Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw and Allan Dell on the 2017 tour to New Zealand. Image credit: Fotosport/David Gibson

“It is important that we do select players from every nation. The last thing you want to do is go on a Lions tour that has one or two nations, or no players from Scotland,” he told former Saracens lock Hamilton.

“I know last time it created a certain amount of controversy and I have learnt a lot in the tours that I have been on – you reflect back and think what things you would do differently.”

Gatland also pointed to Scotland’s 61-21 demolition by England at Twickenham as “not a great performance for a number of individuals” and a key reason for only selecting the then-Glasgow Warriors pair.

“When I look back at 2017 probably the hardest thing is when you are playing away from home you want players to be able to front up and win away from home. 

“I didn’t expect them [Scotland] to win but I wished they hadn’t shipped 50 points against England at Twickenham.”

Image caption: Warren Gatland poses in front of Edinburgh Castle. Image credit: Fotosport/David Gibson

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