Late Lions arrivals, according to Neil Jenkins, will be playing catch-up.


Late Lions arrivals, according to Neil Jenkins, will be playing catch-up.

According to kicking coach Neil Jenkins, the British and Irish Lions’ incoming personnel will be playing catch-up in their bid to face South Africa.

Only 25 of Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad are in Jersey for a pre-tour training camp, with the rest expected to join after the English and French domestic seasons are finished.

It means that absent players like Saracens’ Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje, who are chasing selection for the Test series against the world champion Springboks, could be two weeks behind their opponents.

“It’s likely that the Jersey boys have a tiny advantage. They have to do everything they don’t ordinarily do in this down-week to get a strong week’s prep in them without a game on Saturday,” Jenkins said.

“It’s difficult, and the way we train and the intensity of the sessions puts a lot of pressure on them.

“However, it is an opportunity for them to put their best foot forward and for the coaches to see them for the first time before the other lads arrive next week and the week after.”

Wales’ Dan Biggar is the only fly-half in Jersey, with Farrell playing in the Championship final play-off second leg on Sunday and Finn Russell still playing in the Top 14 with Racing 92.

It puts Biggar in a strong position against his opponents, with Lions attack coach Gregor Townsend – who wore the jersey during the 1997 tour to South Africa – filling in at 10 in Jersey on occasion.

“Gregor has been busy!” Owen will arrive early next week, and Finn may follow depending on how Racing goes,” Jenkins said.

“We might have all three next week anyway,” says the narrator. Dan has been doing exceptionally well and is looking forward to spending more time in the driver’s seat. When the others arrive, it will be a huge bonus for us in the future.”

Jenkins, who is on his sixth Lions tour as a coach and player, believes Gatland’s willingness to put every player in Test was a vital component of the successful tours of 1997, 2013 and 2017. (This is a brief piece.)


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