Gatland set to monitor his Welsh Lions closely this autumn

Warren Gatland admits he will be keeping a close eye on the British & Irish Lions in his Wales squad for the autumn internationals to ensure they don't suffer from burnout. [more]

Gatland set to monitor his Welsh Lions closely this autumn

Warren Gatland admits he will be keeping a close eye on the British & Irish Lions in his Wales squad for the autumn internationals to ensure they don’t suffer from burnout.

Gatland has returned to his role as Wales head coach following his successful sabbatical as the Lions head coach and yesterday named 13 of the 15 Welsh tourists in his squad for the autumn tests, including Sam Warburton as captain.

The only two not to feature in his 35-man squad for the games against Japan, Argentina, Tonga and finally Australia are injured backs Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert.

And having witnessed firsthand just what the Lions went through in order to claim a first series win in 16 years, Gatland revealed he will be monitoring his squad closely to ensure no one over extends themselves.

“Over the next couple of weeks we have to assess where every player is,” he said.

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“All the Lions players have come back into the Welsh set-up pretty motivated and pretty excited after the Australia tour.

“For me it’s not just about now. It’s making sure that we are mentally right when it comes to the business end of the season and that’s the Six Nations. That tournament is so important for us. We have got to keep these players as mentally fresh as we possibly can.

“If you look at previous Lions tours, France have tended to be the team that has won the Six Nations post a Lions tour and the nation that’s heavily represented tends to struggle.

“It’s just an accumulation of the last 18 months or two years for all of us. It’s being aware of that and making sure we manage our players really effectively.

“The last thing I would want is to go and win the four games in the autumn and finish fourth or fifth in the Six Nations. We have got to make sure we are right for that, because that’s the most important competition for us.

“So we’ve got to keep in mind that this autumn is an opportunity for a little bit of development and to give experience to a few players.” 

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