Gatland prowling for last Lions

Tue, 02 Apr 2013 09:57
Large warren gatland looks Large howley gatland rowntree far

The European quarterfinals could become crucial testing grounds for players still keen to make a final impression on British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland.

The European quarterfinals could become crucial testing grounds for players still keen to make a final impression on British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland.

Gatland, who led London Wasps to both Challenge Cup and European Cup glory before taking over as Wales coach, will clock up the miles this week as he does the rounds of the European matches as he goes in search of the final pieces of his Lions squad jigsaw.

The Lions head coach is due to attend no fewer than five of the eight quarterfinals in the two tournaments and will get the chance to see a number of tour candidates playing in the heat of some very intense battles.

Gatland is due to name his squad of between 35-38 players in London on 30 April and has already stated he has pencilled in about a third of the players, including his captain.

His first port of call will be Kingsholm on Thursday night when Gloucester entertain Biarritz Olympique. Home flyhalf Freddie Burns is bound to come under the spotlight given the injury problems Jonny Sexton is currently experiencing and Gatland will be hoping England No.8 Ben Morgan's ankle injury has healed well enough for him to get back into action.

England midfield star Billy Twelvetrees will also be able to further his claims for inclusion in the party due to open its 10-match tour in Hong Kong against the Barbarians on Saturday, June 1.

Friday night will see Gatland return to his old stamping ground at Adams Park for the second Challenge Cup quarterfinal between London Wasps and Leinster.

Here he will get the chance to see Leinster's all international front row in club action together and the back row duo of Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien take on James Haskell and Billy Vunipola.

The Recreation Ground in Bath will be the third stop of the weekend on Saturday lunchtime, when they tackle Stade Francais Paris in the third Challenge Cup quarterfinal, before he heads back up the M4 to Twickenham to see table-topping Saracens take on Ulster in the European Cup.

That game will throw up a number of fascinating battles with England prop Mako Vunipola packing down against experience All Black John Afoa, Ulster and Ireland hooker Rory Best taking on Springboks Schalk Brits and John Smit, Chris Ashton oppose Andrew Trimble and the two young flyhalves, England's Owen Farrell and Ireland's Paddy Jackson, challenging each other with a place in the semifinals at stake.

Gatland's final port of call will be the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday for the European Cup clash between Harlequins and Munster. This game will finally give him the chance to see the 2009 British and Irish Lions skipper Paul O'Connell in action in his biggest game of the season since his comeback after back surgery.
 

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 27 May 2016
Hurricanes v Highlanders 07h35 Wellington
Waratahs v Chiefs 09h40 Sydney
Boland v Eagles 13h00 Wellington
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas 13h00 Bloemfontein
Kings v Jaguares 17h00 Ascoli Piceno
Border v Falcons 17h00 East London
Sat, 28 May 2016
Blues v Crusaders 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Sunwolves 09h40 Canberra
Western Province v Griquas 10h15 Newlands
Blue Bulls v Leopards 12h15 Loftus Versfeld
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h00 DHL Newlands
Namibia v Griffons 13h00 Windhoek
Golden Lions v EP Kings 13h00 Johannesburg
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 London
Bulls v Lions 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Leinster v Connacht 16h30 Edinburgh
Sun, 29 May 2016
Rebels v Force 06h05 Melbourne
England v Wales 14h00 London
B&I LIONS
MORE LOGS