British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has made a mistake with his extra call-ups, even if they win the series against New Zealand

 
Bob Baker
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Gatland drew his additions to the squad from the nearby Wales touring party (Source: Getty)

The controversial additions to the British and Irish Lions squad will be all but forgotten should Warren Gatland achieve a series win, but in calling up four Welshmen the party leader has made an error of judgement.

Unlike international rugby, where a player never really feels like a squad member until capped, the Lions is so prestigious that even being part of the touring squad is special, constituting an achievement many will never attain.

Gatland has called four Welshmen on the grounds of geographic proximity and nothing more. The Welsh quartet had conveniently been touring a similar nook of the globe and can immediately be used as cannon fodder in training.

Read more: Farrell: Lions to unleash "a hell of a side" against New Zealand

Applying his rationale would suggest that it completely slipped the Lions honcho’s mind that Scotland had a run-out on Saturday morning against Australia, in which they showed brilliance in attack and relentless doggedness in defence before recording a first ever win in Sydney 24-19.

Someone must have given Warren a prod, as he later summoned maverick Glasgow fly-half Finn Russell.

Training intensity is key

With the focus on the Tests, management need a full squad to bring the requisite bodies for intense training sessions where match conditions can be applied.

The four arrivals will never be first choice Test match Lions, but they will be exceptionally keen pad holders in camp and more than overjoyed with their bench spots for Tuesday morning’s game.

Training effectively is essential to good performances. It not only prepares physically but, more importantly, sets the mental focus throughout a training week. ‎

For England, Eddie Jones and his predecessor Stuart Lancaster have both brought in club sides including Oxford University’s Blues to bulk out training numbers.

The Lions tour, however, is different. A player wants to feel called on merit as opposed to convenience. Furthermore, just being a tourist is special in itself, and by adding four Welshmen, Gatland has degraded the honour of forming part of the touring party.

English and Scots scratch their heads

Although this “honour” is a little awkward for the blameless quartet, their inclusion will soon be forgotten if this becomes a historic tour for the right reasons.

You might argue that the decision is justified if Cory Hill and chums form an aggressive enough speed bump for Taulupe Faletau and Sean O’Brien to stampede their way over in preparation for the All Blacks.

Others will remain bemused. Of those left scratching their heads, the English and Scots will still be able to console themselves with the fact that ‎their under-strength national sides continue to make strides, while the Welsh and Irish Lions search for the complete performance.

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