Warren Gatland has offered to talk Mike Brown through his British & Irish Lions omission after the England fullback bemoaned his absence from next month’s New Zealand tour.
Harlequins star Brown has vented his frustration at missing out on Gatland’s squad for the three-Test tour of New Zealand, insisting he had received no feedback on selection or guidance on the Lions’ standby list.
Lions boss Gatland revealed he had asked his assistant — and Harlequins forwards coach — Graham Rowntree to speak to Brown, then invited the 31-year-old to call him to discuss the situation further.
Gatland explained the Lions will also keep their standby list fluid to offset the fast-changing injury scenarios that crop up in Test series.
“I can understand the frustration and the disappointment,” said Gatland of Brown publicly lamenting his Lions exclusion.
“I am more than happy for him to give me a call if he feels he’s been hard done by.”
Brown told the Rugby Paper: “It’s really disappointing for guys like myself, James Haskell and Dylan Hartley because we probably won’t get another opportunity.
“I’ve had no feedback about being on standby either, which is also disappointing, so I’m not going to keep up false hopes.
“Instead I’ll reset my goals and concentrate fully on England and the excitement of going on a tough Argentina tour.”
All the Lions hopefuls learned their selection fate when the squad was announced live on television. Gatland insists however he had made provisions for detailing the coaching staff’s decisions to those who had missed out.
Brown, right, has won 60 caps for England but has never toured with the British & Irish Lions. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
“No, I only heard about it this morning,” said Gatland, when asked on Monday if he had yet spoken to Brown.
“There are a number of players in the same situation. I think that’s why we said: ‘If any player wants to call us or talk to any of the coaches, we are more than happy’.
“When we select a squad and make a decision, it’s not always about the rugby content.
“We don’t have a definitive back-up list because it depends on who the player is and the injury and the timing of the tour.
“In your mind you might have a certain player at the moment but that could change as the tour goes on because for whatever reason you decide you need someone slightly different from the person you have in mind at the moment.
“As far as I’m concerned as coaches we’ve put a back-up group together, we’ve discussed a group of players but everyone who is available who is on tour [with their country] I see as being a part of that potential back-up list to be called in.”
Gatland urged anyone frustrated in missing out on Lions selection to stay sharp as injuries could yet open the door for a call-up.
“If you look at the history of the Lions, six to 10 players get replaced on a tour,” said Gatland.
“So there’s six to 10 players out there who are probably going to be called in at some stage on this tour. So be prepared, be ready in case you get that opportunity to come out.
“And that’s just on tour. There’s the likelihood in the next few weeks that someone will get the call-up as well. There are some pretty big and intense games over the next few weeks.”
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Gatland offers to talk Brown through Lions omission
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