Rob Baxter slams Lions' stance on release of Premiership players for South Africa tour

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter
Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter
©PA

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has slammed the the British and Irish Lions' stance over the release of Premiership players for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

With the Lions' warm-up game against Japan scheduled on 26th June - the same weekend as the Premiership finals - head coach Warren Gatland called for "common sense to prevail" over the decision to release the players.

Responding to the comments, Baxter, who has players including Stuart Hogg, Henry Slade, Jonny Gray and Sam Simmonds playing for his club said the stance of Lions is "disingenuous".

"The Lions have known the Premiership schedule for a long time now - I think about a year - so they have known exactly what the scenario was, they've known there is no way of cutting that season short," said Baxter.

"Everyone has known when the Premiership season is going to finish, so for the Lions to now turn around and say that this is a scenario is a little bit disingenuous, I think, because they have known our fixture list for a long time.

"Secondly, I have got every confidence that Warren Gatland will pick the team that he feels will do the job for him because that's the kind of coach he is.

"I don't think if there was a player playing in the Premiership final that Warren Gatland thinks is an important player in his squad that he will leave him out. I wouldn't.

"It is an unfortunate situation but at the end of the day it has not been created by the Premiership, so we have to get on with it."

Gatland is expected to announce a 36-man squad for the tour of South Africa on 6th May following which they will have a two-week training camp in Jersey.

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