Gatland warns that Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Conor Murray are at a disadvantage
British and Irish Lions Coach Warren Gatland has warned Munster’s Lions that they’ll be playing catch-up when they link up with the squad next week after the Guinness Pro 12 final before travelling to New Zealand for their first match on June 3rd.
Numbers have jumped for Gatland’s training as they have gone up from 14 to 30 players in this week for their training camp in Carton house in Kildare as Leinster, Ospreys, Saracens and Leicester were all knocked out of their respected competitions.
Leinster’s Sean O’Brien, Jack McGrath, Tadhg Furlong and Johnny Sexton all attended the session on Monday and were all part of a positive injury update.
Munster take on Scarlets in Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 final, meaning Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Conor Murray will not join their Lions team-mates until Sunday just before they fly out to New Zealand that night.
Speaking in Carton house yesterday Gatland said
“We won’t have time next week when the final group of players actually come in to go over some stuff. This week is a little bit of repetition,”.
“We had 14 players last week, so the fact we’ve almost doubled the size of the squad this week, there is a bit of repetition of some of the stuff that we’d covered last week.
“And I think that’s important, it’s good for the guys that worked on certain things last weekend, but when they come in next Sunday we won’t be able to again go over the same sort of things that we’ve spent a couple of weeks doing with the squad.
“It’s going to put those players coming in next weekend at a slight disadvantage because they’re going to have to pretty much school themselves or work with the coaches one-on-one and look at the training videos to get up to speed as quick as they can.”
With Billy Vunipola having to withdraw from the tour because of an ongoing injury problem Gatland will be looking closely at who had has when it comes to picking a Number 8 for the test matches next month and that could be Munsters CJ Stander has he has a experience with playing there for Munster and also Ireland on occasion.
When asked about Stander, Gatland responded “He gives us both options,” “He likes playing No 8 and we know he can play No 6 as well. So we’ll probably look at him at that position [eight] to start the tour and knowing we’ve got the flexibility to play him at No 6 as well.
“With a few other players we can move that back row around and look at combinations.
“It’s a nice position to be in because we’ve got that flexibility so people aren’t just pigeon-holed into being a Nos 6, 7 or 8. They can cover different roles for us.”
As spectators we would love to see Stander stand out during the tour, and as Munster fans we know what he is capable of.