Lack of influence cost Scotland players in Lions selection - Gordon Bulloch

19 April 2017 04:09

Former Scotland and Lions hooker Gordon Bulloch felt his countrymen's sparse representation in Warren Gatland's squad was somewhat predictable given the lack of influence among selectors.

Only Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour have made the British and Irish Lions' summer tour of New Zealand while 23 players in total from Ireland and Wales - who both lost to Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations - join 16 England players.

Both Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend and Scotland assistant coach Jason O'Halloran turned down the chance to join Gatland's backroom team to focus on their new roles, when they will swap teams in the summer.

And Bulloch feels that contributed to several Scotland players just missing out.

"I'm tremendously disappointed from a Scotland point of view," said Bulloch, who went on Lions tours in 2001 and 2005. "But again you look at it and say there's been no travesties in selection.

"There are several players who I think would have been a toss of the coin. Jonny Gray had a great chance, Hamish Watson had a good chance, Finn Russell had a great chance. But unfortunately that's the way Lions selections go."

Former Wales head coach Gatland is joined by England's Steve Borthwick and Graham Rowntree, Ireland's former England international Andy Farrell and Wales coaches Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins in his coaching team.

Bulloch said: "You think there's been a lot of close calls, and you have an Welsh/English-dominated selection panel, so you are going to pick guys who have shown over the last few years the form that has taken them to championship games in Europe or the Premiership.

"And the Irish have shown for a number of years that they have gone deep into Europe and won European cups, so they have the pedigree that way.

"So you look at Scottish teams over the last few years, Glasgow won (the Guinness PRO12) a few years back now but every clutch game we have played, we have maybe not shown what we can do."

The key games included Scotland's trip to Twickenham this year, when the Scots' expectations were shattered by a crushing 61-21 defeat, while Glasgow also suffered a heavy loss in their European Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens, although they had twice thrashed Leicester to get there.

When asked whether the selection panel should have looked beyond their own allegiances, the 75-times capped Scot said: "Yes, you could say that but at the end of the day it's their reputation. They are responsible for going out there and getting wins, so therefore they are going to pick guys they know.

"If we maybe had a bit more influence we could have had four or five players."

However, former Scotland captain Andy Nicol felt Gatland's decision to only go for two Scots was "strange".

He added on Twitter: "Scotland beat Ireland and Wales in 6N yet we get 2 and they get 23 players!! Seems a lot was given to performing away from home in 6N. Wales only beat Italy whilst Ireland lost to Wales and Scotland!! #evenstranger

"What this selection has proved is that @Scotlandteam must have a coach involved for the @lionsofficial tour of SA in 2021! #fightcorner."

Hogg was unsurprisingly diplomatic when asked about the lack of Scotland team-mates who will join him.

The Glasgow full-back said: "I would obviously have loved to have seen other boys going. But you've got to look at the squad - and the pressure Warren Gatland has been under to pick it. I wouldn't like to do it, that's for sure.

"But I think the fact that me and Tommy are going is down to our team-mates, whether that's at Glasgow or Scotland. At Glasgow, we've been chasing trophies for the past five years and, with Scotland, we're ever improving.

"The fact that the ball gets out wide makes us look good. All our team-mates are getting us into good positions.

"Obviously I would have loved to have seen other boys joining us - and I think there are a few boys who just missed out. But it's tough to pick a squad."

Source: PA