Lions 2013: Chris Robshaw unlucky - Graham Rowntree

Chris Robshaw

British and Irish Lions forwards coach Graham Rowntree says England captain Chris Robshaw is "unlucky" to have missed out on the tour to Australia.

Flanker Robshaw, 26, was left out of the 37-man squad, which will be led by Wales forward Sam Warburton.

"He was upset and quite rightly so, he's been exceptional for England," Rowntree told BBC Radio 5 live.

"There's going to be injuries and Chris will be one of the first names we turn to. He's desperately unlucky."

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has previously stated that Robshaw was unfortunate to be excluded, but pointed to the strength in depth of his back-row division.

"We have gone with two genuine sevens with Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric," said Gatland. "Sean O'Brien has been outstanding as well playing at seven for Ireland."

Gatland added that he admired Robshaw's leadership and work ethic, citing his performance in the recent Heineken Cup quarter-final loss to Munster.

"Even when Harlequins were getting beaten, he was still trying incredibly hard," said Gatland. "He has got to consider himself unlucky, but it is not just him."

Robshaw's fellow Englishman Jonny Wilkinson was also not among the names that will travel down under for three Test matches.

The Toulon fly-half, 33, turned down a place in the squad because the French side are his "absolute priority", with the Lions' opening tour match against Barbarians in Hong Kong due to be played on 1 June, the same day as the Top 14 final.

With Wilkinson absent, only two fly-halves - Ireland's Jonny Sexton and England's Owen Farrell - are part of the touring party, but Rowntree did not rule out the possibility of the 2003 World Cup winner being called up at a later date.

"We'll consider that as when we need to with injuries," added the former England international prop, who felt the Lions had enough emergency cover if Sexton or Farrell got injured.

"People talk about our reserve list, but we'll deal with that with each instance, seeing who is available and who is in form around the world.

"Those two 10s - Jonny Sexton and Owen Farrell - we want them to play a lot of rugby going into the first Test to get this Lions backline firing.

"It gives us enough time to work out who we want to start in the Test and give them enough time to work out how to navigate this Lions team around the field."

The Sydney Morning Herald has described the Lions squad as "slabs of red meat", but Rowntree rejected claims that the party is one-dimensional.

"We want a balance of size and power," he said. "We want to play different games, a power game and quick game. I think the squad represents that nicely.

"You can't put all your eggs in one basket with one style. That's why it was so hard to pick the squad because we've been trying to get the balance right."

Top Stories