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Gatland to limit English on British & Irish Lions tour

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland looks set to limit English players

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Article Published: Wednesday 13 February 2013|

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says that he is wary of selecting too many English players for the Lions tour to Australia in June.

England are currently the only team that have not lost a match in the Six Nations and they have carried the form they showed in beating the All Blacks through to this year.

Even though it is early days in the Six Nations it would appear that England are the form team with the form players.

In comparison Wales won their first Test in nine matches when they beat France in Paris on Saturday.

But Wales coach Warren Gatland says that having too many English players would create "pressures" on the tour.

Gatland said that the media circus that followed England through the 2011 Rugby World Cup could return for the Lions and that there is a history of of unpopularity surrounding the English rugby squad.

"If they do well in the Six Nations, there will be a reasonable contingent of English players, " Gatland told the Evening Standard.

"But that brings a certain element of - how do I say it - other pressures that come with selecting a lot of English players."

"It becomes a much greater media focus from the English papers; potentially a negative focus from the Australian papers. And English players are targeted by other countries.

"(They are) not always the most popular with other countries because of the history. People like having a pop at them."

Gatland tried to emphasise that he would select the best players for this year's Lions tour but he admitted that he had to be aware that potential issues could arise.

Gatland said that while his camps are not a 'dictatorship' it is essential that the players under his control understand the importance of boundaries.

"These are young men filled up with a lot of testosterone and sometimes they need to go out and just unwind. "

"But it's essential these players know what their boundaries are. "

"The way I work, it's not a dictatorship, it's a consultation with the other coaches and senior players or the captain.

"You might say to players, 'Go out for a couple of hours and have a beer and maybe you're back in the hotel by one o'clock', particularly with night games."

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