Scottish captain, Greig Laidlaw has been called up to the British and Irish Lion’s Squad to replace Ben Youngs who had to withdraw for family reasons. Youngs who was a stand out performer for England in the recent Six Nations and had a strong chance of being involved in the tour withdrew after his brother Tom’s wife was given a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Youngs said in a statement released this week that they ‘are a very close family’ and that ‘time is now precious together’. He said that his main priority now has to be ‘to offer as much support as I can to Tom and his family in the remaining time we all have together.’ On being selected for the tour, Youngs said that it was ‘a great honour to be selected as a member of the British & Irish Lions squad and I would like to thank Warren Gatland, the staff and the other players for their understanding in this situation. I wish them well and, like all rugby supporters in Britain and Ireland, hope they have a successful tour.’
Head coach, Warren Gatland elected to call up the Scotland and Gloucester scrum-half, Laidlaw to replace him on the tour, saying that he ‘ was someone we’d [they] discussed initially, but the fact he’d been injured in the Six Nations was one of the reasons he probably wasn’t in the original squad.’. He added that ‘it’s an opportunity [for Laidlaw], and given his experience and leadership as well.’
Laidlaw, who was a surprise omission from the squad believes ‘it’s a great opportunity to come in for myself to get my feet on the ground, get involved and put my print on the Lions squad.’. He added that he is a competitor and that its one of his strengths ‘that will never leave me’ and that he wants ‘to make sure that when I get an opportunity, I take it.’
The British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand begins on 3rd June with a game against the New Zealand Barbarians.