British and Irish Lions 2017: Warren Gatland personally fought to include Jonathan Joseph in squad

Jack Austin
Joseph was a surprise inclusion after reports suggested he would miss out: Getty

Warren Gatland has revealed he personally fought to get Jonathan Joseph in the British and Irish Lions squad after the England centre was only picked at the 11th hour.

Joseph was expected to be left out of the squad after leaks earlier in the week suggested both he and England teammate Joe Launchbury would not be on the plane to New Zealand.

The 25-year-old’s size and relative defensive frailties compared to the other centres in the squad was deemed by the other coaches to be not in-keeping with the description of the gameplan Gatland wants to employ against the All Blacks.

But, despite Joseph’s 6ft tall and 14 stone frame, Gatland insisted he was included, after being haunted by memories of facing him as Wales coach in the past.

“I said to the rest of the coaches, ‘We can’t leave Jonathan Joseph out’,” said Gatland.

“He’s a point of difference – his footwork, his speed – the lines he ran in the game against Scotland, when he scored a hat-trick, were outstanding.

“He’s got some weaknesses. But when I look at it from a Welsh perspective, he’s the one player that causes us so many problems when we play England.

“It’s his footwork and pace. Other midfielders in other teams don’t have the same stuff.”

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