Gregor Townsend expects more Scotland players to join Lions squad

Gregor Townsend has named a 34-man squad
Gregor Townsend has named a 34-man squad
©PA

New Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend hopes for more players from the Dark Blues camp to represent British and Irish Lions in their upcoming tour of New Zealand.

Warren Gatland named a 41-man squad last month for the Lions tour which originally featured just two from Scotland - Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour. However, Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw was added to the squad as a replacement for England international Ben Youngs, who withdrew from the tour citing family illness.

Townsend, who took in charge of Scotland on Monday announced an extended 34-man squad led by John Barclay for their upcoming summer tour which includes Tests against Italy, Australia and Fiji.

Speaking about the selection, Townsend said he is hoping for more Scotland players to be joining the Lions squad which is one of the reason for him picking an extended squad for the summer tour.

"That's one reason why we have picked a squad of 34. For a three-match tour, 34 players is a lot and it might be that not everyone gets to play Test match rugby.

"But given that there is injuries in the game and a Lions tour close by to Australia and Fiji, it could be some players miss those Tests.

"Maybe [more will join up]. There is obviously a few who played very well during the Six Nations so they could have a good opportunity to go. But you never know, it's up to the coaches.

"It's good to see that the first person to be called up since it was announced was a Scot.

"I wish there was more going. We always knew this tour was going to be on at the same time as the Lions tour. Summer tours are about winning but also about learning and seeing new players come in.

"On this occasion we've selected everyone. We've not rested anyone but we are missing three through Lions selection so it is about seeing whether those young players grab their opportunity."

Townsend was also pleased for Laidlaw, who was called up for his maiden British and Irish Lions tour and has backed the Gloucester scrum-half to have a successful outing.

"We're delighted for Greig," said Townsend, himself a tourist to South Africa back in 1997. "I think he would have been in a good position to be selected for that tour if he had not been injured and managed to play the whole Six Nations.

"I'm pleased he's back available and I wouldn't be surprised if he plays Test match rugby for the Lions."

 

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