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What Warren Gatland inspiringly said when he first met up with his 2021 Lions players

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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What Warren Gatland first said to his 2021 Lions squad when they assembled at an administration day in London last month has been revealed in the opening episode of The Ultimate Test, the official documentary series from the tourists that will chart their tour to South Africa which culminates in the three-Test series versus the Springboks.

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It was May 6 when Gatland unveiled the identity of the 37-strong squad and 36 of them met up at The Lensbury in London a fortnight later, the sole absentee being French-based Finn Russell. An eleven-minute episode one has now been published to coincide with the assembly of the Lions for their training camp in Jersey where Gatland has 25 of his picks getting ready.   

Unfortunately, Andrew Porter dropped out on June 6 through injury and was replaced by Kyle Sinckler, who is still in Bristol preparing for the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals next Saturday. Meanwhile, to compensate for chosen hookers Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie also having matches next weekend, Ireland player Ronan Kelleher is training this week in Jersey as an additional rescource to the 25 players that are available. 

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Footage of this training camp will feature in episode two of the documentary series and it will likely be a must-watch if the calibre of content in episode one is indicative of the fly-on-the-wall feel to the production.  

The high point of the debut episode was Gatland making an inspired address to his Lions squad for the first time ahead of the tour that will see them battle the Springboks on three occasions. Taking the floor at The Lensbury, the Lions boss said: “Guys, just firstly from me, I won’t be too long – just congratulations on the selection. 

“Probably for me the hardest and for the coaches the hardest squad we have ever had to select and how challenging that was. At the end of the day, it was about picking good players but picking good men as well and quality men and that is kind of what we looked at. Men who will go down to South Africa and wear that jersey with pride but also fight for each other and go into battle with each other because that is what it is about and it’s going to be incredibly challenging for us all. 

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“Be assured we are going to win a series. That is what we are doing. Let’s not hide away from the fact that we are going to put a squad together, a team together – we’re going there to win. We will not hide away from that fact in terms of what we are trying to do and what we are trying to achieve as a group of people.”

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What Warren Gatland inspiringly said when he first met up with his 2021 Lions players

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