‘Call up Lions on merit, not geography,’ Jones tells Gatland

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones’ England are preparing for the second Test in Argentina, which could count against the players getting a Lions call up

Warren Gatland should add players to the British and Irish Lions squad based on “merit rather than geographical proximity”, England head coach Eddie Jones says.

Lions boss Gatland is set to call up at least five players before the first Test against New Zealand on 24 June.

The players may well come from Wales and Scotland, who are in Australasia, while England are away in Argentina.

“It’s only a 13-hour trip from here to New Zealand,” said Jones.

“The [England] boys could be there.”

The Lions face Maori All Blacks on Saturday (08:35 BST) and the Chiefs on Tuesday before the first Test in Auckland, with Gatland wanting extra players to ensure none of the Test squad have to play twice in a week.

It is understood Welshmen Kristian Dacey, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill and Gareth Davies are among those set to be called up to the Lions squad.

The quartet all featured last night in Wales’ 24-6 victory over Tonga in Auckland on Friday. Scotland, meanwhile, are in Sydney to face Australia on Saturday.

Jones’ squad are preparing for the second Test in Argentina, which is in a different time zone and may count against those players.

“The Lions is a prestigious team – when you become a Lion, you’re remembered for life,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 live.

“My only comment would be I would like to see it picked on merit rather than geographical proximity.”

Lions fly-half Owen Farrell is out of Saturday’s game and may miss the first Test against the All Blacks after suffering a quadriceps injury in training, while full-back Stuart Hogg has left the tour with a facial injury.

Gatland’s Lions have won two and lost two of their four games in New Zealand so far.

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