Dallaglio: Absent Lions will be desperate to join Jersey camp

LAWRENCE DALLAGLIO says the 12 British and Irish Lions still on club duty across England and France will be ‘desperate’ to join up with Alun Wyn Jones and Co in Jersey.

Former British and Irish Lions tourist Lawrence Dallaglio
Former British and Irish Lions tourist Lawrence Dallaglio

The 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, himself picked for three Lions tours in 1997, 2001 and 2005, believes the Lions’ current training camp will be ranked highly by the players as they gear up for their 2021 series in South Africa.

Just 25 of the 37 internationals picked by Warren Gatland have spent this week in the Island, although they will be joined by five Saracens players on Monday, plus losing Premiership semi-finalists.

Dallaglio, in Jersey for three days this week, told the JEP: ‘This camp is a great opportunity for them to get together, build bonds and get to know each other.

‘They’re all international players who are used to spending a lot of time in camps but I would imagine as camps go, this one is probably one of the more enjoyable ones for them. It’s a new experience for the players.

‘I can appreciate why people choose Jersey as home and equally why the Lions chose Jersey as their training base. It ticks a lot of boxes from a health and safety point of view and also just what’s available.’

Head coach Gatland faced a battle against Premiership Rugby officials earlier this year to secure the release of his England-based players for the camp. Traditionally, they are tied to their clubs until the Premiership final has been completed – even if they are not involved.

‘It’s not ideal, is it?’ said Dallaglio. ‘But what can you do?

‘Warren fought long and hard to get availability of his players as quickly as possible but you have to play what’s in front of you. They’ve increased the training numbers this week to make sure they can get the work done and the other players will be champing at the bit to join them and be a part of the Lions tour themselves.

‘The ones who are arriving shortly, I’m sure they’re desperate to get here, although not at the cost of a Premiership final or a Top 14 final, or whatever it may be.’

Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jonny Hill, Sam Simmonds and Stuart Hogg were all due to appear for Exeter Chiefs in Saturday's semi-final against Sale, with Tom Curry captaining the Sharks. Kyle Sinckler is in action for Bristol against Harlequins and England stars Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Elliot Daly are all in action for Saracens in the Championship final second leg against Ealing.

Scotland’s Finn Russell will also join the Lions camp when his commitments with French Top 14 side Racing 92 conclude.

The Top 14 and Premiership finals are scheduled to take place on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 June, respectively. The Lions, who leave Jersey next Thursday, face Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday.

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