Warren Gatland: England players could miss Lions tour if not released for Japan warm-up

English players blocked from June 26th clash due to Premiership final scheduling

Exeter Chiefs celebrate their Premiership final win over Wasps. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Exeter Chiefs celebrate their Premiership final win over Wasps. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

 

Warren Gatland has warned that England players face the risk losing out on marginal calls in Lions selection if they are forced to miss the historic Test against Japan because of the scheduling of the Gallagher Premiership final.

Gatland remains hopeful that “common sense will prevail” as talks continue over the English league’s decision to block the release of players for the June 26th warm-up to the South Africa tour.

“I can tell you we will be taking the best team we possibly can, the best players, but the hard reality of the situation is that I just hope it doesn’t impact on any players or selections,” Gatland said.

“You end up with a 50/50 call on a player, and a player who is able to be there for a week’s camp in Wales and a week’s preparation for the Japan game might get the nod against someone who has unfortunately not been available until only one week before the first match in South Africa.”

Even players who are not appearing in the Premiership final will be barred from joining up with the Lions ahead of the Japan game at Murrayfield.

“It’s a challenge at the moment and I just hope that some common sense will prevail in negotiations,” Gatland said.

“I fully understand with the Premiership final and players not being available because they are tied up with that, but I would love to see players being released for the Lions.”

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