“It would be a brilliant message about bringing people together if we were able to vaccinate all the touring party.”
Warren Gatland has said Irish Lions players should be vaccinated in the United Kingdom, saying it would send out a positive message ahead of this summer’s tour.
Gatland revealed his coaching team on Tuesday and spoke of his desire to have all players vaccinated before they depart for South Africa at the end of June.
“That would be the plan, yeah, I think it would be brilliant. We’re working towards that if we can,” Gatland told Sky Sports.
“We’ve got to be conscious not to be seen getting special treatment but these are special times and circumstances.
“The UK has done an unbelievable job in their vaccination programme. I’ve been lucky enough to have my first vaccination a few weeks ago.”
Gatland feels that including Irish players, so that all the touring party will be vaccinated, would show how the Lions bring people “together from four different nations”.
“We’re just talking to some people and hoping that we’re able to alleviate some of the issues around Covid,” Gatland continued.
“I think what’s brilliant about the Lions is its players, people coming together from four different nations.
“It would be a brilliant message about bringing people together if we were able to vaccinate all the touring party, when we see what’s been happening in Ireland.
“The Lions is about unity and bringing people together and connecting people. If we can do that and be positive in some way I think it would be a brilliant message to send.”
"I was thrilled with their response – it's hopefully going to be an incredibly special tour."
Warren Gatland speaks to @SkySportsNews about his coaching staff for the British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa and revealed a few other names that were in the frame…🦁🏉 pic.twitter.com/Wfy0mwemhi
— Sky Sports Rugby Union (@SkySportsRugby) April 13, 2021
The 57-year-old revealed that he has asked Ireland head coach Andy Farrell to submit his 36-man squad for the tour and admitted he could still have a role to play with the Lions.
“Yeah, it’s possible, it’s why we’ve left one of the spots open,” Gatland added.
“Whoever it is, do we feel like we need someone else to come in, is it at the start of the tour, during the tour, before the Test matches take place?
“I think what’s happening with those games and tours is going to be finalised this month so it’s just having that flexibility to potentially bring someone else in later on maybe.
“I would have loved Andy to come. We didn’t know what the situation was with Ireland, if they were touring, I understood the commitment to that.
“I was leaving it as long as I possibly could and understood that if Ireland were touring there was a good chance that he wasn’t going to be available.”