Former Scotland international Jim Hamilton has said that discontent was rife in the British & Irish Lions camp on this summer’s tour of New Zealand.
The burly second row retired from rugby at the end of last season but, having spoken to many of the players who featured in Warren Gatland’s squad, he has revealed that a lot of them were unhappy.
This comes a week after Irish international and starting Lions openside Sean O’Brien lambasted Gatland for his coaching tactics saying “If we had a little more structure during the weeks, and more of an attack gameplan, driven way earlier in the tour, I think we could have won 3-0”.
He went on to say that “with the players we had, we should have won the series.”
This seems to be a view that Jim Hamilton supports:
“There was a lot of discontent with Gatland. That’s what we’ve heard and kind of know.”
However he did disagree on one point “Whether or not they would have won 3-0, though, I beg to differ”.
What was most upsetting from Big Jim’s perspective was the way Finn Russell and Alan Dell were treated. The Scotland and Warriors fly half was called up late to the tour as part of Gatland’s “Geography 6”, so called because they only received the nod thanks to touring in the region with their respective nations.
“I spoke to Finn in the hotel ahead of the second Test and there had been a lot of injuries. He was wearing the full stash and I asked him how he was getting on and he said he was finding it quite difficult”
“He said that he didn’t feel a part of the squad at all and that the guys were getting their jerseys presented but it was just the match day 23 there, which I thought was really bizarre. Surely, everyone in that Lions squad should be there for that historic moment?”
“It should’ve been the best moment of his life being there as a British Lion in New Zealand and you could see that it wasn’t, which I thought was a real shame.”
Russell hasn’t said anything following the tour beyond the usual professional platitudes, but Dell was somewhat more vocal saying “You don’t come over wanting to just fill numbers, we’re professionals, and you come over wanting to prove and to show you deserve to be in this scenario”.
“That’s the bit of frustration, but we understand we came in with a role and a job…But at the same time you want to play, that’s why you play rugby.”
No doubt more players will come out with their version of events over the next few months and years, but you have to hope that in future tours our players will be treated with a little more respect.