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British & Irish Lions 2013
Gatland may turn to youth for Lions
ESPN Staff
September 14, 2012
Wales' George North celebrates his side's victory, Ireland v Wales, Six Nations, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland, February 5, 2012
Wales youngster George North may get the nod for the Lions © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Warren Gatland | Andy Irvine
Tournaments/Tours: British and Irish Lions tour

British & Irish Lions manager Andy Irvine has revealed that one reason behind Warren Gatland's appointment as coach for their 2013 tour to Australia was the New Zealander's ability to blood youth.

Gatland has backed the younger generation in the past with his 2012 Grand Slam team possessing a wealth of players aged 23 and under. Justin Tipuric, skipper Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, George North, Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny all played prominent roles in their path to Six Nations glory and that penchant for youth helped persuade Irvine that Gatland was the right man to lead the famous side to Australia.

Following his dazzling start to the new campaign, Christian Wade has already been mooted as one shock call up to the tour and the Lions have not ignored youngsters in the past. On the 2009 tour, Halfpenny was blooded alongside Keith Earls and while more seasoned campaigners such as Ronan O'Gara have stuck their hand up for Lions selection, Gatland may well turn to youth.

"He's got a very good tactical brain, a good motivator and a great thinker," Irvine said of Gatland when speaking to the Total Rugby podcast. "And you have to admire him because Warren more than any coach in the northern hemisphere has had a great ability to bring through youngsters.

"A lot of coaches are reluctant to do that because it's too risky. But he takes the view that if they're good enough then they're old enough. And Australia would be in that category as well - both Wales and Asutralia have been willing to bring through young talent and take risks. That talent has often proven to be very exciting.

"Leigh Halfpenny was just a baby almost when he played for Wales. George North is a big strong chap but relatively young in years. But Warren has that ability to bring in that type of player. We will be looking for that type of expertise in Australia next year."

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