The Irish and British Lions will take their first steps into the furnace later this month, with the inevitability of injury already hanging uneasily in the air. Captian Sam Warburton won't play again this season for the Cardiff Blues, meaning that he will have to wait to prove his fitness in the three scheduled warm up games before the first test against the All Blacks.
The captain had hoped to play some part in Cardiff's European playoffs, but according to the Daily Mail, he won't be fit enough to play a part owing to the knee ligament he tweaked against Ulster in April.
While this is a concern for Gatland, it is nothing new: Warburton endured the same injury ahead of the tour four years ago, but was ultimately fit enough to start the first test. While that is encouraging, a captain shorn of game time is far from ideal for Gatland.
Eleven players joined up with the squad four years ago to provide injury cover, and Gatland has admitted that he has a list drawn up of players who can provide such relief this time around.
He told RTE Sport that he won't publish this list, but we can be pretty sure that Garry Ringrose is on it:
For some positions, we've spoken about one or two players. We'll let the players know they're on standby and we'll let their unions know, but we won't publish a list.
The reason we won't publish a list is because we may want to change our minds - we don't want to back ourselves into a corner with a player who is right at the moment but maybe isn't later on.
The best example of a player who was unlucky not to be picked in the original squad is Garry Ringrose, but if in the last week the weather forecast says it will be pelting it down, it could be that someone else comes in instead of him.
In our minds we have players who we will notify for standby, but we also have to be flexible.