Rugby

Warren Gatland Explains Exactly Why Dylan Hartley Didn't Make The Lions Squad

Warren Gatland Explains Exactly Why Dylan Hartley Didn't Make The Lions Squad

The Lions squad has officially been confirmed for the upcoming summer tour of New Zealand, and Sam Warburton will again be captain after the successful tour of Australia back in 2013.

The choice of captain is something that has been debated for months, as from an Irish point of view many were hoping Rory Best would get the nod, and it was widely believed a few months back that the biggest rival to the Belfast man for captaincy would be Dylan Hartley.

Instead, the Northampton hooker has been omitted from the squad entirely and there's no point in pretending that a sizable portion of rugby fans aren't absolutely delighted by that news. Hartley's previous indiscretions make him one of the least popular players for non-English fans, but this has no bearing on his omission from the squad.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Warren Gatland explained that the main reason for Hartley not making the squad was the form of Jamie George, who ironically can't get into the England team ahead of Hartley.

It was a discussion that Dylan's done a great job for England since he's captained the team. Did we need that leadership? Did we need someone with that sort of fight, bit of mongrel in him as he's so competitive? That's the strengths of him.

We discussed it and felt we couldn't leave out Jamie George, the job he's done coming off the bench and for Saracens, the coaches speak so highly of Jamie as a player.

And Rory Best and Ken Owens had a great Six Nations as well. Dylan is very unlucky he's not in the squad. It was a really tough call for us.

So there you have it.

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Club form and coaches recommendation the big reasons behind Jamie George making the cut, as well as the form of Rory Best and Ken Owens.

Of course, with so long to go between now and the test matches, don't rule out the possibility of an injury seeing Hartley drafted in to the squad. He is planning to go on holiday in New Zealand this summer as it was, so it would be very handy for Gatland should a hooker be injured to simply ask Hartley to join up.

You get the feeling that it would only be England fans hoping for that scenario, however. And even then not all of them.

[via SkySports.com]

Mikey Traynor

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