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Gatland faces Lions selection "headache"

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/02/2017 By Andrew Baldock
Wales's rugby team Head Coach Warren Gatland © AP Photo/Alastair Grant Wales's rugby team Head Coach Warren Gatland

What shapes as a hard-fought Six Nations championship will only increase the difficulty of selecting this year's British and Irish Lions, says Welsh assistant coach Neil Jenkins.

Two thirds of the games so far have been decided by six points or less, with only Italy finding themselves well off the pace.

And with some huge contests still to come, potentially highlighted by England's trip to Dublin next month, Lions coach Warren Gatland's player selection pool could further expand as he builds towards the New Zealand tour squad announcement on April 19.

"For these players at the top-end of the game, whether it be in Wales, England, Scotland or Ireland, it is a unique thing to be involved in, the Lions," Jenkins said.

"It happens once every four years, so, more often than not, these players empty the tank.

"There is a trophy at stake, and there is a Lions tour at stake at the end of it, and every single player who is involved in any of these squads will want to give it their best and try to stake a claim for a Lions spot in the summer, and none bigger than a tour of New Zealand."

First five-eighth is an area of particular strength, with the likes of Johnny Sexton, George Ford, Owen Farrell, Finn Russell and Dan Biggar among those set to exercise Gatland's thought process.

"I thought Dan was huge on Saturday (against England). I thought his all-round contribution was massive. He had a big game and certainly put a marker down going forward," Jenkins said.

"There are a lot of good 10s out there, but I am biased, I am Welsh, and I am a massive fan of Dan.

"I think he is an outstanding player, and he would certainly fit into any Lions squad as far as I am concerned."

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