Lions standby list will remain private - Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland will lead the Lions in New Zealand
Warren Gatland will lead the Lions in New Zealand

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland insisted that the list of standby players for the upcoming tour of New Zealand will remain private.

Gatland's men will head to New Zealand for a gruelling 10-game tour that kick starts on 3rd June and the 53-year-old is expected to name 12 to 15 players on the reserve as a cover for possible injuries to the front-line players.

The former All Blacks coach stated that the names will be informed privately to the players and their respective unions at the end of the ongoing domestic season .

"We're waiting for the club games to finish before we formalise a reserve list," said Gatland, who revealed that captain Sam Warburton will lead the Lions in their tour opener against the Provincial Barbarians on June 3.

"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 Gary 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."

Reacting to the comments made by the All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen that Lions have opted for a muscular squad to force the back to back World Champions into submission, Gatland said:"I find it interesting that people think we've picked a big side that's going to try and go out there and try to....

"There's some real talent in the squad and some real skills and footwork and genuine pace as well. There are some guys who play quality rugby.

"On skill level, this is the best team I've seen put together for a long, long time.

"It's a lot stronger than 2009 and 2013 in terms of potential, depth and the difference that some players bring.

"It definitely wasn't a case of picking the biggest and ugliest brutes that we can and trying to beat New Zealand into submission.

"We're going out there thinking, 'Let's play some good rugby'."