Warren Gatland is back in New Zealand after his recent European scouting mission culminated in his attendance at the Champions Cup final, but the Lions boss will be glued to his TV this weekend to see if Scotland can finally win a big Six Nations game on the road.
Scotland have become the poor relation of Lions tours in the professional era and Gatland has been subjected to criticism due to picking just three Scots in a 37-strong squad for Australia in 2013 and just two in the 41 players named for the 2017 tour to New Zealand.
Gatland, though, has claimed accusations of bias are wide of the mark and he is hoping Scotland can continue their promising springtime form when they complete their delayed 2020 Six Nations campaign at Llanelli on Saturday, giving him further food for thought regarding the make-up of his 2021 Lions tour squad for South Africa.
“The great thing at the moment is the Scottish players are doing well,” he said when questioned at the Lions jersey launch whether he disliked Scotland. “It’s a big game for them at weekend. “They were coming to Cardiff (last March) with a lot of confidence when that game was called off the day before in the Six Nations. Look, absolutely not. I don’t go around being negative about teams or players.
“I get a lot of criticism about leaving Brian O’Driscoll out and I was anti-Irish at that stage. It’s about picking the best players. Remember, selection is just a matter of opinion. I don’t select the team solely. It’s the five coaches. I can tell you it’s very much a constructive debate about the squad. Everyone has a huge input and collectively we make the decisions as a group.
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 29, 2020
“It’s not just me so to be singled out that I was anti-Scottish was a little unfair. I’m a great believer that we must have a representation from all the four nations and that’s hugely important. I hope Scotland do perform well in this autumn campaign and the Six Nations – it makes it a hell of a lot easier for us to pick them.
“The big thing is we know how difficult they are to beat at Murrayfield, and it’s important that as a collective group they play well on the road because we [the Lions] are not playing at home.
“We’re playing away and you want players that are mentally tough, that can handle the pressure. That is the important factor. There is no anti-Scottish sentiment from me. I definitely want them to do well and I want to be able to take as many players that deserve to go on the tour as possible.”
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 6, 2020
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