Warren Gatland has revealed picking only two Scotland stars in his original British and Irish Lions squad for the summer tour of New Zealand was ‘hard’ on a team that had won three games in the 2017 Six Nations.
The Lions chief also suggested that two more Irishman and Scotsman were close to selection but missed out due to restricted numbers.
‘One thing that concerned us, and that we knew would cause a stir, was that we had only two Scots, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour, in that original 41-man squad, which was hard on Scotland,’ said Gatland.
‘After all, they’d won three games in the Six Nations. Even though we’d consciously tried to pick the best 41 players regardless of nationality, we were still acutely aware that one of the four nations was not particularly well represented.
‘We also seriously discussed Simon Zebo, Keith Earls, John Barclay and Finn Russell. But, ultimately, we were stretching the Lions budget in taking 41, and some very good players were always going to miss out.
‘That was another sign that this was a stronger Lions squad than four years previously, and as coaches all of us truly believed that.’