Lions head coach Warren Gatland dismisses national bias over Scottish omissions
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 19/04/17 11:32pm
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland insists having a Scottish influence in his selection panel would have made no impact on his squad selection.
Only two Scots - Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour - were named on Wednesday in the 41-man party that will tour New Zealand in the summer, despite Scotland's home victories over Wales and Ireland in this year's RBS 6 Nations.
Both Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend and Scotland assistant coach Jason O'Halloran turned down the opportunity to join Gatland's backroom team in order to focus on their respective new roles, when they will swap teams during the summer.
But Gatland denied that was an issue, suggesting that Scotland do not have enough experience of winning away from home. He added: "We just felt we'd looked at the footage, we'd done our due diligence, looked at the game in Twickenham.
"There's no doubt that Scotland have done very well. They will be aggrieved and disappointed about that. They performed exceptionally well at home.
"And probably the greatest strength that Scotland have had is probably their collective performance. They've been well coached by Vern (Cotter) who's done an exceptional job.
"When I looked at it, and I looked pretty closely at the Glasgow-Saracens game, there were some pretty strong performances there by the Sarries. They could have been well up a bit earlier.
"And we are not playing at home. We are playing away from home. Scotland haven't been to New Zealand since 2000. And we are playing the best team, back-to-back world champions in their own backyard. We have to perform away from home, that's going to be paramount."
Gatland argues that Scotland's comprehensive 61-21 defeat to England in Twickenham and Glasgow's 38-13 European defeat by Saracens were evidence that it would have been too risky to take further Scotland players to face the All Blacks.
The former Wales head coach, who has representatives from Ireland, Wales and England on his Lions coaching staff, added: "Look, we understand they are going to be disappointed but it wasn't about what nation you come from. We put together what we thought was the strongest possible squad."
Wales finished fifth in this year's Six Nations, below England, Ireland and Scotland. Gatland has chosen 16 England players, 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland and two from Scotland.
All 10 games of the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand will be shown live on Sky Sports, starting June 3.