Gatland: Scots could struggle to tour
December 30, 2012
Warren Gatland wants a strong showing from Scotland in the Six Nations © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland admits Scotland's leading players could struggle to earn selection in his squad for next summer's tour to Australia.
Gatland is eager to have representation from all four nations on the three-test tour next summer to help develop a strong squad spirit and is therefore hoping Scotland enjoy a strong Six Nations campaign following a turbulent autumn internationals series, which ended in the resignation of coach Andy Robinson.
However, Gatland insists nationality will not be the priority when it comes to selecting his squad and he will pick the strongest possible team to take on the Wallabies.
"It wouldn't bother me if I picked 15 Englishmen if I thought they were best equipped to beat Australia," he told the Mail on Sunday. "I don't think the make-up of the team is the main criteria for getting the job done, although I believe all four nations should have representations in the squad for the morale of the tour.
"That's why I hope that Scotland enjoy a good Six Nations because I don't think I'm speaking out of turn to say representation for the Scots is challenging."
As for the structure of the squad, Gatland is homing in on the exact numbers and the positional make up of the tourists.
"I'd imagine there will be 35 players made up of a 19 to 16 split between forwards and backs, possibly 20 to 15," he said. "We'll have three hookers, three 9s, three 10s and an extra prop. It means that in nearly all other positions there'll be two players fighting it out for one spot."
Gatland will be the second Kiwi to coach the Lions after Graham Henry led them to Australia in 2001. But despite having played his rugby in New Zealand and being proud of his heritage, Gatland sees himself as a northern hemisphere man when it comes to his coaching career.
"Graham told me that coaching the Lions gave him some of the most valuable lessons he ever learned, lessons that he put to good use when he won the World Cup last year for New Zealand," said Gatland.
"He also boosted my confidence by saying how I'm miles more experienced than he was at this point. He was appointed Lions coach 18 months after taking over in Wales. I've been coaching in the Northern Hemisphere for the vast majority of the last 24 years.
"New Zealand try to claim me as a Kiwi coach but, while I was a Kiwi player, I'm most definitely a Northern Hemisphere coach, and very proud to be so."
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