Gatland talks time together

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland says the players available for the pre-tour training camps over the next two weeks will be in pole position ahead of the opening fixture against the Barbarians on June 1 and the nine games that follow in Australia. [more]

Gatland talks time together

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland says the players available for the pre-tour training camps over the next two weeks will be in pole position ahead of the opening fixture against the Barbarians on June 1 and the nine games that follow in Australia.

Gatland and his squad met for the first time today as they gathered at Syon House in London to tackle a huge logistical mountain before getting down to business in Wales and then Ireland prior to departure for Hong Kong on May 27.

The man charged with leading the Lions to a first series success since 1997 will have 22 of his 37-man squad available for those sessions but won’t be able to train with those players still involved in domestic or European action with their clubs until they arrive in the southern hemisphere.

"The players that prepare for that first game are going to have the biggest advantage on tour," said Gatland, who will be without his contingent from Leicester, Leinster, Ulster, Toulon and Northampton for the initial training phase.

"Ironically, those players not in the finals will be in a better position in terms of preparation in the next couple of weeks.

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"The players coming back from finals are going to be at a disadvantage because of their lack of preparation time. It's tough for them in terms of knowing that a few days after a final they are on the plane.

"There's a bit of trepidation about not picking up injuries but if you go in with that attitude and try and look after yourself there is more chance of picking up an injury.

"Players are going to go into the finals giving it their all, and I wouldn't want it any other way. So the advice to those players is to go hell for leather."

Former Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll was the only absentee at today’s squad meeting, with the veteran Ireland centre nursing a back injury he picked up in Leinster’s win over Glasgow on Saturday night.

O’Driscoll was forced out of the RaboDirect PRO12 semi-final in the early stages with a back spasm and was advised not to travel this week but Gatland expects to see him back in action in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final in Dublin on Friday night.

"The information has just been to keep him off his feet for 48 hours. It's a back problem that comes and goes," added Gatland.

"It normally takes a few days to relieve the pain. It's something that he has had that tends to come once a year, it is normally just the case of an epidural at some stage.

"We will keep our fingers crossed he is able to play in the two Leinster games that are coming up."

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