Warren Gatland Reveals Interesting Criteria For All Lions 2017 Hopefuls
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It’s not just about playing ability.
Warren Gatland has revealed some interesting criteria for all Lions selection hopefuls, stating that it will not just be about playing ability. The head coach has stated that he is looking for good people as well as good players.
Gatland is looking for players with good character that can carry themselves during the tour and can handle the disappointment of not being picked for test games. He wants players that can add to the squad regardless.
The Kiwi is coaching for his second successive tour and that experience has helped him realise what to look for when picking a player.
You want good people as well as good players,” Gatland said
“Good characters will go on the Lions tour.
“We had a coaches meeting, went through the autumn internationals, through the squads and players that have impressed us. One of the things I raised was about not just thinking about players but thinking about the right sort of people for the Lions, the right sort of characters, people that are going to fight for their positions, and how people might handle disappointment.
“The hardest thing coaching the Lions, you’ll always get one or two disgruntled players, people who feel like they haven’t had the opportunity and I saw that in 2013. There was one player who was pretty disappointed about not being selected for the first Test, threw his toys out of the cot but was able to regather himself.
And then there were a couple of players on that tour that had had really, really good Six Nations campaigns and when they turned up in Australia, to me it seemed they were just quite happy to be part of the squad and weren’t fighting for to be the number one in their position.
“So we spoke about those instances and not just about performance and players but also about the person, the individual, the character, you know, how he’s going to cope on a Lions tour and what sort of impact he’s going to have both on and off the field.”
Gatland reveals players in the past have reacted poorly to not being picked and will do everything in his power to not bring those type of tourists.
“When we raised that at our meeting, the coaches were obviously thinking about that, you know, ‘he would be good as a tourist’, or ‘I’m not sure if he wasn’t selected as the number one, actually how positive he would be in the environment as a number two or a number three’.
“That’s a challenging thing sometimes for these players. Some of them are used to always being number one in their club side, have been since school and are number one in their country. Then you pick them in a Lions squad and all of a sudden, ‘oh’, they’re number two or number three. So it’s a real challenge for them how they handle that. That’s something we need and will do, is address that as a coaching set-up before they get on the plane.
“I wasn’t in charge in 2009 but there was a player in that last week, a very well recognised player who on the Thursday, he wasn’t involved in that last Test and he had been out on the Wednesday night, had a little bit too much to drink and didn’t turn up for training on the Thursday. He wouldn’t get out of bed. Now if I had been in 2009 I would have put him on the plane and sent him home. I would have said to him ‘explain to your family and to the rest of the rugby world why you weren’t prepared to come to training in the last week of the Lions tour’, which was pretty important.
“So I think they need to hear those sort of stories and understand how important that is…. It’s a tough gig and the thing with the Lions is that, it’s not just about performances on the field. If we get things right off the field and everyone knows where they stand then we’ve got a chance on the field.”
Who is he talking about from 2009 do you think?