Borthwick feels Hartley's pain after Lions snub

Laidlaw Russell

Laidlaw Russell

Warren Gatland says Dylan Hartley was overlooked by the British and Irish Lions for their tour to New Zealand due to the irrepressible claim of his England understudy Jamie George.

Steve Hansen believes Dylan Hartley would have been an asset for the British & Irish Lions on the tour to New Zealand.

Warburton stood down from the Wales captaincy this season and is now out with a knee injury.

Unfortunately for the incumbent England captain, the New Zealand born hooker has not made the cut.

"I had a dinner with all the other former captains last night when it sunk in, the enormity", said Warburton at a news conference after the squad was announced. Gats would have okayed the idea - I'm sure they would have spoken to him about what sort of itinerary the Lions would need.

I have previously written that I didn't believe Chris Ashton should be considered for the Lions but in recent matches I have to say he's proven me wrong. He also skippered them on the successful 2013 tour of Australia.

"It's a concern, because he is a quality player".

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

Hartley was not the only notable England omission, with in-form lock Joe Launchbury also missing out.

He is expecting Gatland's side to play an uncomplicated game in the test series in keeping with Gatland's standard operating procedure.

"After four years ago with not being named in the initial squad and then with everyone saying this time "you've got a good chance to be named in it", to then be sitting round with my family when my name was read out was just elation and that was probably the best word for it".

"It's an incredible feeling, a really proud moment for me and my family but it is just as everyone describes it, it's a once in a lifetime thing".

"He's bounced back from a lot of things, he's a strong character".

The 41-man Lions squad that will embark on mission improbable next month contains 14 players - eight Irish and six English - who have featured on winning teams against the All Blacks.

He selected 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland and a meagre two from Scotland: the full-back Stuart Hogg and wing Tommy Seymour.

The Lions have not won a Test series against New Zealand since 1971 - and they have only beaten them six times in 113 years - but Hansen has no doubt about the challenge they will pose his players in June and July.

Grounds custodians and rugby bosses today confirmed the special welcome which will take place on June 4, the day after Gatland's men kick off their much-anticipated tour here with a match against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians at Whangarei's Toll Stadium.

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