Wales and Cardiff Blues hooker Kristian Dacey has opened up about his controversial Lions call-up in a interview with Wales Online.
Lions coach Warren Gatland came in for stinging criticism following his decision to draft in six players to his squad based on geography, with Welsh quartet Dacey, Tomas Francis, Gareth Davies, and Corey Hill brought in alongside Scotland’s Finn Russell and Allan Dell.
The rationale behind the move was that the six would offer cover for the mid-week squad in their remaining two games.
But the move led to accusations that Gatland had devalued the Lions jersey by picking players more on where in the world they were at the time, rather than on ability.
The situation was further exacerbated when as a result of the criticism the Lions head coach decided to only use the six off the bench in the case of injuries.
Due to this decision none of the Welsh quartet saw any action while Russell and Dell saw only 13 minutes of action between them.
The fact that the Lions were out on their feet and in need of fresh legs in the latter stages of their thrilling 31-31 draw against the Hurricanes on Tuesday, has only added to the criticism.
But the four-times capped hooker, who made his first full start against Tonga this month, says he has learned a lot during his time in camp and isn’t concerned about the criticism which the selections have caused.
“I know a lot of people have slagged it off, but it doesn’t bother me”, said the former Pontypridd front-rower.
“You will always get people that don’t like you.
“For all those people saying ‘who is he’, I have had other people saying congratulations.
“Everyone has got their own opinion and I can see where some people are coming from. I didn’t play a game in the Six Nations and I’ve only started once for Wales.
“People might think other boys are better than me and that’s fair enough. That’s their opinion. But it’s something I couldn’t turn down”.
Dacey learnt of his unexpected call-up following Wales’ hard-fought 24-6 victory over Tonga at Auckland’s Eden Park.
While the rest of the Welsh squad travelled on to Samoa for the final game of their season, Dacey and his three Welsh team mates headed to Waikato.
The 27 year-old admitted that the call-up was a big shock.
“It was in the cap presentation in the evening. Robin McBryde told the four players they had been called up.
It was such a shock and so much more than he had expected.
My personal aim was to get on the Wales tour and get a start. I did that and then I got on the Lions on the back of it”.
Although he wasn’t able to get any game time, working alongside some of the best coaches and players in Britain and Ireland was a extremely valuable experience. One which has been of huge benefit to his career.
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena
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