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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

Gatland considers limiting England’s contingent for Lions tour

“They are not always the most popular with other countries because of the history. People like having a pop at them.”

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

BRITISH AND IRISH Lions coach Warren Gatland has revealed he may limit the number of Englishman in his squad to tour Australia this year.

Gatland believes a high number of English players in his squad will lead to too much pressure from newspapers in England, while claiming the Australian media and fans will target his team if it is dominated by their old enemy.

England received plenty of criticism during the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand both on and off the field and Gatland is keen to avoid a repeat during the Lions’ first tour to Australia in 12 years.

“If they do well in the Six Nations, there will be a reasonable contingent of English players but that brings a certain element of, how do I say it, other pressures that come with selecting a lot of English players,” Gatland told the London Evening Standard.

“It becomes a much greater media focus from the English papers, potentially a negative focus from the Australian papers and English players are targeted by other countries.

“(They are) not always the most popular with other countries because of the history. People like having a pop at them.”

Gatland also emphasised he will be setting boundaries to ensure his players avoid getting into trouble while on tour.

“These are young men filled up with a lot of testosterone and sometimes they need to go out and just unwind but it’s essential these players know what their boundaries are,” Gatland said. “The way I work, it’s not a dictatorship; it’s a consultation with the other coaches and senior players or the captain.”

Is it time to accept that Ireland are a middle of the road team?

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