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Lions first meet-up like "first day at school"

Monday, May 08, 2017 - 00:54

Gatland says the 2017 British and Irish Lions' initial get-together is like the first day of school

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SHOWS: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (MAY 8, 2017) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WARREN GATLAND, BRITISH LIONS COACH, SAYING: "I've spoken to most of the players, it's kind of like the first day of school really I think, and I know what that's like as a player, everyone's a little bit nervous, a bit apprehensive, sort of getting to know each other, players introducing themselves. "It's pretty exciting, it's a very important day for us, it's something that, not only the Lions, but every squad goes through the same thing every time you meet together, it's an admin day, an organisation day to get through. So for us to be able to have this today to get everything out of the way given obviously some of the limited preparation time we have, it's a really important day for us." STORY: Warren Gatland said the 2017 British and Irish Lions' initial get-together on Monday (May 8) was like the first day of school and he was in stern headmaster mode when forced to justify the timing of the event days before two major European finals. The 41-man squad and all the coaching and backup staff convened at a west London hotel to go through various administrative tasks and collect their mountain of kit ahead of the daunting 10-game tour of New Zealand in June and July. Among them were Scotland scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw, who was called up over the weekend following the withdrawal of England's Ben Youngs after his brother Tom's wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Laidlaw and Welsh backrower Ross Moriarty will play for Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup final against Stade Francais on Friday, while six more Lions are in action for Saracens in the European Cup final against Clermont Auvergne the following day. Saracens cancelled their planned Monday training session and the London club's director of rugby Mark McCall said the timing of the Lions administration day was "unbelievable". Gatland, who will be crossing his fingers that he does not lose any players to injury next weekend or in the subsequent playoffs and domestic finals with the opening tour game looming on June 3, said there was a good atmosphere at the first group meet-up. "It's kind of like the first day of school really I think, and I know what that's like as a player, everyone's a little bit nervous, a bit apprehensive, sort of getting to know each other, players introducing themselves," said the New Zealander. Gatland said this was not the time for any big motivational speeches but the coaches will be addressing the players about the expectations that come with being a Lion and the particular challenge of touring New Zealand.

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Lions first meet-up like "first day at school"

Monday, May 08, 2017 - 00:54