Gatland keeps a keen eye on autumn

Warren Gatland reckons the autumn internationals are the perfect stage to impress ahead of the 2013 Lions tour of Australia. [more]

Gatland keeps a keen eye on autumn

Warren Gatland reckons the autumn internationals are the perfect stage to impress ahead of the 2013 Lions tour of Australia.

Gatland will be keeping a close eye on this month’s Test matches and was in the stands at the Aviva Stadium and Murrayfield over the weekend.

And while a host of stalwarts from the home nations, such as Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Ben Foden and Dan Lydiate have been ruled out of the international action, Gatland insists it’s an opportunity for others to shine.

“I have a really open mind and it’s just about seeing who impresses and puts a marker down,” said Gatland.

“Ireland have been quite severely hit with injuries, particularly to experienced players like Rory Best, Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll.

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“But it’s also an opportunity for some youngsters, who have been playing well for their provinces, to step up on the big stage against some of the top teams in the world.

“If someone plays well you have to take notice of that. You follow them closely and if they play well the following week and so on then they will really put themselves in contention. That’s vey prevalent for the young players.”

The Kiwi coach also believes it is a chance for experienced players to rediscover their form and put down a marker.

“For the experienced players, the Lions who went on the last tour, it’s an opportunity to get form back and shine,” said Gatland.

“You’re taking players out of their club or provincial scene and into an international side. Their form might not quite be at the level they would like at their clubs or provinces but they have a chance to shine in a different environment.”

Only England triumphed on the weekend, with a comfortable victory over Fiji, while Ireland lost to South Africa, Scotland to New Zealand and Wales to Argentina.

And the 2013 Lions head coach remains hopeful that the home nations can topple the southern hemisphere giants.

“It’s nice to go there and not have the pressure of being a coach,” added Gatland.

“It will be great for the northern hemisphere teams to get a few victories in this autumn campaign and beat some of the southern hemisphere teams.”

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