Warren Gatland Has Named The Two Most Difficult Areas For Lions Test Selection
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The time has nearly come for Warren Gatland and his British and Irish Lions squad following their 49-3 win over the Stormers yesterday evening.
Gatland’s side have now played all their warm-up fixtures with only the three-Test series against the world champion Springboks still to come – and selection could not be any tighter.
At this stage of a Lions tour, the selection picture would normally be very clear but the competition this year is like nothing we’ve ever seen before as Gatland and his coaching ticket try to assemble a Test team capable of beating South Africa.
And it looks like credit in the bank won’t stand for much with Gatland using the last few weeks to paint his selection picture.
“I don’t go in with preconceived ideas (about Test selection),” Gatland said when asked how his selection has changed since the beginning of the tour.
“I let the media do that and the other rugby experts who all have their own opinions and they are all very different from each other which is great and I don’t have any issues with that.
“I try not to go in there with thoughts about players that this is potentially a Test side. I allow that to develop and allow players to have that opportunity to put their hand up.”
In terms of positions that are going to give him the biggest headache, Gatland mentioned the back-three and the make-up of the loose forwards as the areas that are really going to be hard to call.
“There is going to be some tight calls with regard to the back three and the make-up of the loose forwards and how that mix is going to look as well. They are probably the tightest calls we have got to make in terms of getting the balance right in those positions,” Gatland said.
“We will go through the process and make sure we go through everyone and look at the starting XV and also it’s important that we consider the impact that the bench will have as well and having the right players come on.
“I have started to get some names in my head and started thinking about combinations. It’s getting a lot closer. We will sit down and have a look at the game (versus the Stormers), talk to the medics as well. From a fitness perspective, I think we are pretty good and then we will start thinking about getting those right combinations together. That is sort of the next 48, 72 hours when we will go through that process. It will be some robust debate I presume.”