Gatland: Scotland players earned their places in Lions squad

The coach says Scottish call-ups aren't down to his assistants' influence.

Gatland: Scotland players earned their places in Lions squad SNS Group

Warren Gatland says Scotland’s players caught his eye with impressive away wins to force their way into his British and Irish Lions squad.

Gatland named eight Scottish players in his 37-man squad for the tour of South Africa and with two coaches also party of the travelling party, it’s the highest representation in the professional era.

Backs Chris Harris, Stuart Hogg, Ali Price, Finn Russell and Duhan van der Merwe made the cut, along with forwards Zander Fagerson, Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson.

Though Gatland has Scotland’s Gregor Townsend and Steve Tandy as part of his staff, he said it wasn’t their influence that led to his decision to take so many of Scotland’s Six Nations players.

“Two massive wins away from home against England and France were pretty important for me,” Gatland said.

“Let’s not get carried away with the influence of the Scottish coaches too much, it’s about picking the best players.

“In 2009 we had Ian McGeechan as coach, who’s pretty Scottish and we only took two Scottish players to South Africa then.

“I’m absolutely delighted because five teams on their day were all capable of beating each other. I think that’s reflected in the balance between the nations of the players we’ve selected.

“I don’t count the numbers up until we’re finished selecting the squad but it’s pleasing that there  was a balance and more representation from Scotland. It’s about them performing and I think over the last couple of years they have as a team.

“Hopefully they can continue to do that and those players can come on tour and acquit themselves well as Lions.”

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