Gatland takes to the road in hunt for Lions
April 2, 2013
Warren Gatland will take in five European matches this weekend © Getty Images
Warren Gatland will step up his search for the final pieces in the British & Irish Lions jigsaw when he takes in five European matches this weekend.
Gatland is set to unveil his squad for the summer tour to Australia at the end of April. He recently said that there are roughly a third of the squad's places still up for grabs and this weekend's quarter-final matches in both the Amlin Challenge Cup and the Heineken Cup could go some way to deciding who gets the call-up for Lions duty and who misses out.
The New Zealander will start off his schedule by taking in Gloucester's quarter-final against Biarritz on Thursday evening at Kingsholm. Their No.8 Ben Morgan has been injured recently but could make his long-awaited return to the field against the Top 14 side. Gatland may also be keeping an eye on England backs Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees as well as Scotland second-row Jim Hamilton.
On Friday, Gatland journeys to Adams Park to watch Wasps' match against Leinster where the likes of Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Christian Wade, James Haskell could feature. One man who looks set to miss out is Leinster's Jonathan Sexton with the province claiming he is "unlikely" to recover from an ankle injury in time to play Wasps.
After seeing Wasps' match, Gatland will go to the Recreation Ground on Saturday to watch Bath versus Stade Francais, with Wales prop Paul James likely to be at the centre of his attention, before then journeying to Twickenham to watch Saracens' Heineken Cup quater-final against Ulster.
There will be a host of players on show at HQ for Gatland to cast his eye across and this will also be the case at the Stoop on Sunday when he watches Harlequins' match against Munster. Quins skipper Chris Robshaw has been mooted as a possible tour captain and is likely to start against the Irish province while the 2009 Lions skipper Paul O'Connell could also feature as he looks to further his claims for a spot in the squad after a season blighted by injury.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in PIctures
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year