Jones: 'Pick Lions on merit not geography'

by AFP

England coach Eddie Jones has urged British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland to choose reinforcements on "merit rather than geographical proximity".

His call comes after Gatland called in six reinforcements for the tour - four from Wales who are in New Zealand and another two from Scotland who played against the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday.

Jones told the BBC from Argentina: "The Lions is a prestigious team - when you become a Lion, you're remembered for life.

"My only comment would be I would like to see it picked on merit rather than geographical proximity."He then added: "It's only a 13-hour trip from here to New Zealand."

Wales flanker Ross Moriarty was ruled out of the Lions tour with a nerve injury on Saturday.

Moriarty, who played in the tour opener against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, becomes the Lions' second loss to injury after fullback Stuart Hogg departed with a facial fracture.

"We are really disappointed for Ross," said Gatland, adding: "It is disappointing to see injury cut his tour short but we wish him all the best with his recovery."

Moriarty's departure was announced shortly after Gatland called up Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey, Gareth Davies and Tomas Francis who played in Wales' victory over Tonga in Auckland on Friday.

Gatland later added Allan Dell and Finn Russell after they featured in Scotland's 24-19 win over Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

But Gatland, commenting on the Welsh players, said: "Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel will help us manage players before the first Test (and) give us quality training numbers to prepare properly."

Gatland arrived with an original squad of 41. 

Following their 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua on Saturday, the Lions have two tour games plus three Tests remaining over the next three weeks.

"We have said all along that we need to give ourselves the best chance of winning the Test series and that could potentially involve calling up players," Gatland said.