Warren Gatland makes plea to Scots ahead of Lions tour
Last Updated: 30/12/12 1:35pm
Warren Gatland: Plea to Scots to step up in Six Nations
Lions coach Warren Gatland admits he is hoping some Scots shine in the Six Nations so he can include them on next summer's tour of Australia.
Gatland revealed he is likely to choose 35 players for the tour, and whilst he insisted all four nations will be represented, Scotland currently look likely to have the fewest players.
Most pundits would have Sale lock Richie Gray as a near-certainty to go, and Edinburgh flyer Tim Visser is amongst the favourites for one of four wing berths.
But there are few others and whilst Gatland is not bothered about the make-up of his starting XV, he does want a genuine mix in his squad.
Gatland told the Mail on Sunday: "It wouldn't bother me if I picked 15 Englishmen if I thought they were best equipped to beat Australia.
"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.
"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."
"I'd imagine there will be 35 players made up of a 19 to 16 split between forwards and backs, possibly 20 to 15.
"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."
Graham Henry was the first 'foreign' Lions coach, and Gatland said his fellow-Kiwi has already passed on his advice.
"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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