Stuart Lancaster reassured by Lions coach Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland and Stuart Lancaster
Warren Gatland and Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster insists that England players will be selected for the British and Irish Lions on merit after talks with Warren Gatland.

Lions coach Gatland had suggested that picking too many English players for this summer's tour of Australia could put extra pressure on the squad.

Lancaster met Gatland on Tuesday and is not concerned about the situation.

"I came away reassured that England players will be picked on merit and rightly so," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"[The issue] wasn't a big deal to be honest. With him coming to the camp I wanted to make sure it was managed properly.

"I wanted to speak to him directly but also reassure the players that what will make you a British Lion is playing well for England.

"The players are all old enough and experienced enough to know they'll be judged on how they play."

New Zealander Gatland made the comments in an interview with the Evening Standard but subsequently claimed he had been misrepresented.

Gatland, who has already spent time with the Wales camp and will also visit Scotland and Ireland in the weeks ahead, was pleased that his scheduled visit gave him the opportunity to confront the issue.

He said: "I had a great welcome and after sitting down with Stuart Lancaster and his coaches for a chat I was able to sit in on the de-brief of the win over Ireland in Dublin.

"The fact my visit coincided with all the furore over comments I made to a journalist about wanting to protect the English players in the Lions party from external forces made it all the more apt.

"I mixed with the players and was blown away once again by the interest in, and desire to be a part of, the Lions experience."

Lancaster has confirmed that number eight Ben Morgan, prop Alex Corbisiero and fly-half Freddie Burns will all miss next week's game against France at Twickenham due to injury.

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