British and Irish Lions: Warren Gatland will speak to Mike Brown over omission

Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland takes charge of his second consecutive tour after leading the Lions to victory over Australia in 2013

Warren Gatland has offered to talk to Mike Brown about his omission from the British and Irish Lions squad after the full-back cited a lack of "feedback".

Harlequins' Brown was left out of the 41-man group which will play 10 matches in New Zealand from 3 June to 8 July.

He played all of England's games as they won the Six Nations and called the lack of explanation "disappointing".

"I am more than happy for him to give me a call if he feels he's been hard done by," said head coach Gatland, 53.

"I can understand the frustration and the disappointment. There are a number of players in the same situation."

Gatland revealed he had previously asked his assistant - and Harlequins forwards coach - Graham Rowntree to speak to Brown and reiterated staff are happy to take calls from omitted players.

Brown, 31, told the Rugby Paper: "I've had no feedback about being on standby, which is 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."

Gatland urged those not selected to stay sharp as he feels history shows "six to 10" of the current squad will need to be replaced due to the physical demands of the tour.

But he says he does not have a defined list of back-up players and that decisions are not always based on "rugby content".

'The game of your life'

Martin Johnson shouts at his players
Johnson (left), led the Lions in South Africa in 1997 and Australia four years later

Two-time Lions captain Martin Johnson told BBC Sport that bonding the squad quickly "is huge" if they are to secure a first series win in New Zealand since 1971.

Johnson - the only man other than current captain Sam Warburton to lead two tours - says players need the "game of their life" to win Tests on Lions duty.

"You have to come together as a team very quickly," said Johnson. "Tactics apart, if you're not a team you've got no chance. When the All Blacks are there, the people will want them to win and will let you know about it, so you have to use that in the right way.

"What happens in the Six Nations gets you on the flight but you have to be fast out of the traps because no one in that team is guaranteed anything. It's a chance for the players to do something very, very special."

Nothing wrong with 'first day at school'

The British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand
The British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand

Saracens criticised the timing of Gatland's squad get-together on Monday, with boss Mark McCall calling it "unbelievable"external-link to host the meeting five days before his side play Clermont in the European Champions Cup final.

McCall cancelled training with six of his players attending, while Gloucester, who meet Stade Francais in the European Challenge Cup final on Friday, were without Ross Moriarty and Greig Laidlaw.

But Gatland called the day "very important", adding: "We haven't had any requests from anyone to move this date [which was] communicated months ago."

"It does really make a big difference for us. It's exciting, but also a very important day for us.

"Every Lions squad goes through this organisation day. I've spoken to most of the players, it's like the first day of school."

The Lions fly out to New Zealand on 29 May and will play the first of three Tests against world champions New Zealand on 24 June.

Laidlaw selection 'reasonably easy'

Lions coach Warren Gatland 'fully respects' Ben Youngs' decision

The Lions have already been forced into one squad change with Scotland scrum-half Laidlaw replacing Ben Youngs, who withdrew from the tour on Saturday after the wife of his brother Tom learned that she is terminally ill.

Gatland said it was "really tough" for the 27-year-old England scrum-half.

"As far as I'm concerned family comes first, he's made that decision and we know how close they are and we fully respect that decision and understand it," Gatland added.

Laidlaw, 31, missed the final three matches of Scotland's 2017 Six Nations campaign after injuring his ankle in round two against France, which Gatland said was "one of the reasons" he was not included in the original squad.

"It was obviously not ideal for him, but he's here from day one which is a bit easier than a later introduction to the squad," said Gatland.

"It's a sensitive situation but he has experience and also leadership experience and I'm sure he'll do well."

Greig Laidlaw
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw was called up to replace England scrum-half Ben Youngs in the Lions squad


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