Following Saturday morning’s news that Warren Gatland has called up six players — Wales quartet Kristian Dacey, Cory Hill, Tomas Francis and Gareth Davies and Scotland duo Allan Dell and Finn Russell — into his British & Irish Lions squad their respective clubs and countries were quick to congratulate those selected.
— Cardiff Blues (@cardiff_blues) 17 June 2017
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) 17 June 2017
The Lions head coach made it clear in his announcement that bringing in individuals from an “identical time zone” would help them with the adjustment process into Lions life.
“We have said all along that we need to give ourselves the best chance of winning the Test series and that could potentially involve calling up players,” explained Gatland.
“Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel, will help us manage players before the first Test, give us quality training numbers to prepare properly as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match.”
However the inclusion of geography in the decision-making process didn’t sit well with many, as a number of former players and members of the media highlighted.
Always been sad never to have become a Lion. Turns out I was merely geographically naive.
— David Flatman (@davidflatman) 16 June 2017
So geographically convenient players will become Lions. What about those picked at the outset? Not new of course, but doesn’t make it right.
— Alastair Eykyn (@alastaireykyn) 16 June 2017
The requirement to bring in additional players also called 2005 British & Irish Lions tourist Ben Kay to ponder on the logistics of future tours.
Just wonder if developments should signify end of midweek fixtures in professional era – 3 Saturday warm up games 3 tests with smaller squad
— Ben Kay (@BenKay5) 17 June 2017
Finally another member of that 2005 touring party gave his to-the-point assessment.
Gatland is the boss – he makes the calls!!
Let’s just get behind the boys #lions2017 🦁
— Mark Cueto (@Mark_Cueto) 17 June 2017
The Lions will now move into a Test week ahead of meeting the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday morning. Alongside this there’s a match to play against the Chiefs and it’s at the FMG Stadium on Tuesday where we may well see these new faces in the red of the Lions.