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Gatland will not favour Welsh in Lions selection

Guinness PRO12 Editor

6 Sep 2012

Jackson's opposite number fared better and finished with an 11-point haul..

Newly-appointed Lions head coach Warren Gatland has warned his Welsh charges to expect no favouritism when it comes to selection for the 2013 tour to Australia.

Gatland will be taking ten months off from his full-time role as Wales head coach in order to lead the British and Irish Lions Down Under, exactly the same circumstances as Graham Henry who led the Lions in 2001.

On that occasion Henry took a lot of flak for selecting too many of his own Welsh players but Gatland insists there is no chance of him making the same mistake this time around.

But on the face of it Welsh rugby is currently coming from a position of strength: Wales are the reigning Six Nations champions, the Ospreys are the reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions and the Cardiff Blues also made the Heineken Cup knockout stages.

But even so Gatland insists impartiality is the name of the game when it comes to picking his Lions squad.

“Part of the problem in 2001 – and I think it would be Graham's criticism of 2001 – was there were probably too many Welsh players selected,” he said.

“Some of them weren't probably good enough to go on the tour in the first place. If I was worrying about that, then I'm probably not the right person for the role.

“I've got to be confident in my own coaching ability, confident in my relationship with the players.”

Gatland will take charge of Wales for November’s autumn internationals before relinquishing his powers to Rob Howley.

The Lions management were keen for Gatland to leave his duties before the autumn internationals but with Wales going up against Australia the New Zealander felt it was an invaluable chance to scout out next year’s opposition.

“It gives me a chance to coach again against Australia and I really wanted to have another opportunity to coach Wales against the All Blacks," he said.

“Those things are important. They are the two best teams in the world at the moment.”