emfizz.com August 20, 2017

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen: All expectation on Lions

20 April 2017, 09:58 | Andy Ferguson

After hearing his name read out as part of the British and Irish Lions' squad to tour New Zealand this summer, Wasps' centre Elliot Daly was taking a little time to absorb the news. Four years on and now a test captain, the hooker was judged on his playing abilities alone but was overlooked in favor of three rivals - Ireland's Rory Best, Wales' Ken Owens and Jamie George, Hartley's understudy for England.

"Gatland doesn't exactly have a good track record in liking people from Scotland", said McLauchlan. The selection of two in the initial squad is one fewer than 2013, equals that of 2009 and was only smaller when just one made the 1930 trip to New Zealand.

"We discussed at length about it. Dylan has been a tremendous leader for England in the last period of time and playing well".

If there was heartache for Hartley, there was set to be uproar in Scotland.

So, with the extended Lions squad now known and with both head coaches extolling their own sides' respective strengths, the battle lines have been drawn and the countdown to the highly anticipated tour has begun. Gregor, in my opinion, was right not to go because he's taking the Scottish team for the first time.

Warren Gatland may have stayed true to his guns by leaving Dylan Hartley out of his side, but staying true to your guns; whilst it may be a key ingredient of an integrity-filled coach, does not win you matches or series against the world champions on New Zealand territory.

Out in the backs, Jonathan Joseph is selected despite reports which indicated otherwise, while Ben Te'o will also be involved having done enough to influence the coaches during his fleeting Six Nations performances.

He added on Twitter: "Scotland beat Ireland and Wales in 6N yet we get 2 and they get 23 players!"

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The theme of continuity extended to Gatland's choice of captain.

Conor Murray will have to prove his match fitness before the end of the season or risk missing out on the British & Irish Lions tour.

He hinted that Hurricanes back Jordie Barrett - brother of Beauden - was well in the reckoning for a place in the 33-man squad for the three-test Lions series.

'There are always going to be surprises, with some people being selected and some people not being selected, ' Hansen told reporters in New Zealand on Thursday.

Farrell, assuredly, would also have hailed the qualities of Garry Ringrose, not least in his reading and anticipation in defence, as well as his elusive running and eye for a gap, albeit the 21-year-old missed out.

Sam Warburton of Cardiff Blues and Wales will lead the Lions for a second consecutive Tour, an honour only ever achieved once before by Martin Johnson in 1997 and 2001.

"He likes his big ball carriers in the middle of the park and his big grunty forwards so that's what he's picked and I'd expect we'll get a similar game-style to whatever we've got when we've played a Warren Gatland team", Hansen said.

"He's bounced back from a lot of things, he's a strong character".

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